Daniel H. Steinmeier, 92, bartender for six decades

April 13, 2001|By Frederick N.Rasmussen | Frederick N.Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

During 60 years of tending bar, Daniel H. Steinmeier made Margaritas for Ernest Hemingway and poured drinks for Winston Churchill.

Mr. Steinmeier, who spent half of his career at the old Green Spring Inn on Falls Road, died Monday of Parkinson's disease at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. He was 92.

Known as Danny by legions of faithful customers, he was the convivial host behind the bar who mixed Manhattans, martinis and Rob Roys, and served them with stories about celebrities he had met and horses he had bet on.

Mr. Steinmeier began working at Green Spring Inn in Lutherville in the late 1930s, when it was a two-story frame farmhouse that had been converted into a roadhouse.

After it burned in 1942, owners Ted and LeRoy Peddy, because of shortages, had to wait until after World War II to rebuild. They put up an art deco structure on the site and reopened in 1946. The brothers' inn quickly became a popular dining and dancing spot. Bands led by Guy Lombardo, Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Zim Zemarel and Count Basie played there.

During the war, Mr. Steinmeier served in England as an air traffic controller with the 309th Bomb Group of the U.S. 8th Air Force and was discharged in 1946.

In the late 1940s and the 1950s, he was a bartender at the Lord Baltimore Hotel, the Gibson Island Club, the Miller Brothers restaurant in downtown Baltimore and the Surf Club in Miami.

At the Surf Club, he served Hemingway and Churchill. Other celebrities he met included Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Unitas.

He returned to Green Spring Inn in the 1960s and retired from there in 1985. The inn closed four years later .

"He certainly was a character, a great storyteller, and always had a captive audience. Maybe some of his stories weren't always true, but they were certainly entertaining," said Tom Peddy, son of Ted Peddy, who converted the inn into a Chinese restaurant and jewelry store.

For years, Mr. Steinmeier's work attire was a white shirt and tie, what Mr. Peddy described as the "Miller Brothers look." Later, he switched to red, green and gold captain's jackets when the inn adopted that style of dress.

"He always referred to himself as `the host' at Green Spring and was a self-proclaimed horse-racing expert. He loved the track and especially Timonium," said Jack Mosner, retired president of Mercantile Bankshares and a longtime customer.

Mr. Mosner recalled a day when Bob Hope, former Maryland Gov. Spiro T. Agnew and another man were enjoying a drink at the Green Spring Inn bar after playing golf at the Baltimore Country Club. The phone rang.

"Danny answered the phone and came back and tapped Bob Hope on the shoulder. He said the president was calling. [Hope] asked president of what, and Danny replied, `Whaddaya mean president of what? The president of the United States, Gerald R. Ford, that's who,'" said Mr. Mosner, laughing.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Mr. Steinmeier was a graduate of city public schools.

He had lived at Dulaney Valley Apartments in Towson for more than 50 years.

Services were held yesterday .

He is survived by several nieces.

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