If the lettering for the Horse You Came In On's signboard seems appropriate to an English pub, just remember that Maryland was still an English colony when this Fells Point building was erected around 1770.
Few pubs in town can approach this place when it comes to liquor lineage, since the building is believed to have always been used as a tavern. There also once was a blacksmith's shop out back, which partly explains the poetic name.
Though looking to the past is only natural in a place where the worn wooden floors have weathered many a last call, the future is here, too.
"We've just enclosed what was a garden bar for years and years," explains general manager Joy Schuh. "Our neighbors didn't care for the noise out there and we wanted to be able to use it year-round. We desperately needed the space back there."
Anybody who has ever been elbow to elbow with humanity in this compact pub knows what she's talking about. The indoor square footage has doubled, providing room to roam near the already existing back bar.
Actually, the expansion is not quite finished. There are still some dangling light bulbs, skylights yet to be unveiled, and concrete floors still awaiting tile. Plants will also be added to take advantage of the natural light and give the atrium a garden ambience.
If that all sounds nice, I came away feeling that the new back room is too contemporary-looking for such a venerable watering hole. Also, the mirror-filled brick archways lining one wall seem almost -- I shudder to say it -- suburban! Not to mention that I saw a seemingly sober guy, apparently fooled by the full-length mirrors, nearly walk into one.
The Horse You Came In On owes much of its solid reputation to both its live music -- hey, Michael Hedges once performed here regularly -- and its beer selection. The other night, when guitarist Mike White twisted the lyrics of "American Pie" to ". . . and good ole boys drink beer at the Horse," he may have been alluding to the bar's beer menu that includes 60 imports. True, this is down from the 150 available in the recent past, but no one should complain about the cutback until all 60 have been sampled and (( the sampler is ready for more.
As for the live music schedule, this weekend features Summer Breeze playing Saturday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Ted Raschka playing Sunday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Roy Wright and Tom King playing Sunday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The Horse You Came In On
Where: 1626 Thames St., Fells Point.
Hours: 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Mondays to Fridays, noon-2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Menu: popcorn and peanuts.
Credit cards: MC, V.