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Thank you for your review Carolyn McHugh!

If you haven’t already found it, and if you’re thinking about heading out for a little lite fare and you’d like to try something that’s not your regular run-of-the-mill libation choices, then I suggest that you try heading down to Lusby to the newly opened Barrel 9 for a enjoyable light dining treat. Gene and I were there Friday evening and we enjoyed finding something new. it. It’s in the Giant shopping center complex.

Owned and operated by Mike and Carolyn Hart, owners of Patuxent Wine and Spirits, their purpose in opening the Barrel was to provide educational opportunities regarding wines and spirits, while simultaneously offering unique and tasty “small plates’ (think “tapas”) that can be to be shared.

Some examples of their small plate choices are Tomato Basil White Bean Dip with Soft Baked Pita Wedges, Duck Pâté with Crostini, Sweet and Spicy Hummus with Soft Baked Pita Wedge, Assorted Herbed Olives, Charcuterie Board, Steak Tip Kabobs, Chicken Wrapped with Prosciutto….and more.

Gene and I found ourselves in Lusby early in the evening on Friday and decided to simply stick our noses in the Barrel and have a drink to check it out, but we wound up getting a table and sharing two small plates. Gene ordered the Deviled Eggs, and I ordered the Chicken Prosciutto. I have to confess that as I sampled my Chicken Prosciutto, I immediately regretted agreeing to share it. It was yummy. It was a thinly cut chicken breast, topped with Prosciutto and seared, accompanied with fresh tomato slices, a fresh mozzarella slice, and fresh spinach, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Yum.

For drinks, Gene ordered from the rare Scotch menu. Don’t ask me what it was because I’m not a Scotch drinker. But he liked it. (Hopefully, however, not enough to feel that it needs to be a frequent addition to his current Scotch collection!) For me, ordering a libation became an issue. Most wines and alcohol don’t agree with my digestive system so I usually stick to two basic alcohols that I won’t regret consuming…like vodka or gin…but always camouflaged with a mixer, usually something like a diet Sprite so I don’t taste the alcohol. (I know...a sophisticated drinker I am not, but you’d be surprised how basic you tend to get when your digestive system decides to go into full-on-rebellion!) I have to admit, tho’, that as the hostess was rattling off a list of some of their exotic mixed drinks… I began to be embarrassed about stopping her in mid-stream to ask if they kept diet Sprite behind the bar, … so I caved and ordered a Vodka Martini, something I’ve never had before, but I knew was basically vodka. Before it came, I took several swallows of water from the water glass thinking I could always pour the Martini into the remaining water and dilute it if I found it too overwhelming. But , when it came, I cautiously took a sip of the libation and discovered it wasn’t overpowering at all...and that it went down quite smoothly…probably because it was made with some really good, smooth vodka. But what do I know?

I do highly recommend Barrel 9, but I should caution that its hours of operation are limited: Wednesdays thru Saturdays, 4-10 p. And that it’s a small place with limited seating…about 4-5 small tables, with just a few places at the bar. I don’t know if they take reservations…but I doubt that they do. Know, too, that there’s a sign that states that appropriate attire is required. Now, specifically what that means, I don’t know…and I guess it’s up to the discretion of the management. We certainly didn’t see tux and tails, but neither did we see women with shorts cut so high that a lot of cheek skin was showing, or men with droopy pants showing off specific-but-unnamed cracks.

And…. they maintain a strict age requirement for entry. And you will be carded.

No. One. Under. The. Age. Of. 21. Is. Permitted. Entry.

No one. Ever.

And the reason is quite simple. The owners are probably the only liquor license holders in Calvert, perhaps in all of Maryland, that hold a dual “On Premise” license, combined with a “Off premise” license. In 2009, they obtained an “Off Premises’ license for their retail store, Patuxent Wines and Spirits, ..a license which permits them to sell alcohol that can’t be consumed on the premises, but must be taken from the store for consumption (and hopefully, not in the parking lot!!!).. Restaurants and bars normally hold a single “On Premise” license, which permits them to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption within the confines of the establishment. Because Barre l9 and Patuxent Wine are both owned by the same owners, and since the two sites sit back to back, and for some other reasons, Mike and Carolyn were able to negotiate with the Calvert County Liquor board and Maryland liquor board to combine a license to permit both their liquor store and Barrell 9 to operate under the same license…with the stipulation that no one under the age of 21 may be sold or served alcohol at either site. If an infraction should occur, they could lose their license to operate either and/or both facilities. And they are VERY judicious about ensuring that doesn’t happen. They won’t even permit a family to come into the Barrel with under-age children, so don’t plan on making the evening a family affair. Instead, have a date night, or take another couple with you.

And enjoy the experience….Carolyn McHugh

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