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Barrel 9, Lusby, Calvert County, Maryland - John Tanner

I love this bar. My kind of place. Just strolling’ ’round the dance floor …wait! That’s all wrong.

Barrel 9 isn’t so much a bar as an experience. One way to look at it is that a bar is for drinking, while Barrel 9 is for tasting. That’s a big difference, although rumor has it that the line between tasting and drinking blurs after a while.


Put more precisely, Barrel 9 is for savoring, for exploring very fine wines and whiskeys while enjoying some delicious food. Barrel 9 is all about the really good stuff.


Nancy and I had been to Barrel 9 before, and I’ve written about it here and here. And I love Barrel 9. Nancy and I tried their food and their wines, the wines by taking advantage of the enomatic machine, that lets you have, at a modest price, a small, medium, or large taste of a very — I mean very — fine wine. Once tried, a wine can be a treat and a revelation.


This time I decided to try the whiskey side of Barrel 9. Now, you want to eat something when you’re tasting, so Nancy and I started with some deviled eggs, one of which disappeared before I got my iPhone out, (deviled eggs are quick!) and some duck pate.


The deviled eggs — well, face it, deviled eggs always approach greatness, and adding some bacon puts them over the top. The duck pate … outdid itself. Will whoever supplied that pate please come forward? We later added some white bean dip graced with roasted red peppers and capers, which were a very nice touch.

When am I going to get to the drinks? Now. I started with a Smoked Old Fashioned. That is, an Old Fashioned infused with hickory smoke. The result was a fine Old Fashioned (made with Old Forester) bearing a smoky overlay that took the drink to another level. You definitely should try one.


We were joined presently — right when the white bean dip arrived — by our good friends and neighbors, Mark and Julie Rokala, and a special guest star, the remarkable Laura Eddy. You met her here. That called for another drink, and I reverted to my usual cocktail formula, bourbon (to taste) with water (frozen) to taste. Barrel 9 offers an impressive array of bourbons, from which I chose Angel’s Envy. I’d had some with Hal Kirtley when Nancy and I were in Lexington, Kentucky, and my nephews, Christopher, Griffin, and David Tanner recently went to the Bluegrass State and bought a barrel of Angel’s Envy. It is delicious, smoky, and smooth as silk.


The entry of the Rokala-Eddy party underlined another aspect of Barrel 9. It’s great fun to be there with friends. It’s a. cheerful place, quiet enough for easy conversation sprinkled with bursts of laughter. Even if you come alone, the staff is so welcoming that you’re quickly among friends.


Nancy, meanwhile, had a modest pour from the enomatic wine dispenser. I forget the name of the wine, but it enjoyed pride of place on the far right of the dispenser. It smelled delicious, and Nancy savored it.

Savor. The word fits Barrel 9. You savor the drinks there, and the food as well, and both food and drink invite you to think about the flavors, about what you like and why you enjoy it. That’s a great way to approach life. I certainly can’t do it all the time. Sometimes you’re focused on a game or the waves or the fishing line, but even then, there are moments when you suddenly think, “That sandwich (or beer or pizza) really tastes good!” Each such moment is precious. So head to Barrel 9 and savor life.

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