If you're looking for a party, give tequila bar Lime a shot

On Nightlife

May 04, 2006|By SAM SESSA

From the patrons to the paint job, Lime is one of the city's most colorful corner bars.

Fort Avenue's funky new tequila joint combines South Baltimore natives, yuppies and devilish Mexican drinks in an atmosphere all its own. It's a narrow, quirky neighborhood bar worth driving to - especially for tomorrow's free outdoor Cinco de Mayo extravaganza. But, as with most tequila bars, an average evening at Lime can get pretty pricey, which is the main reason why I don't drink there more often.

The folks at Lime know how to kick-start a night out: As you walk in, the bartenders chop a lime in half, pour some tequila into it and serve it on a little metal stool. You squeeze this free half-lime filled with liquor into your mouth, and then order your first official drink.

Owners Scott Cerniglia and Brendon Smith opened Lime in November and chose a couple hues of screaming green paint for the walls. It's cute, but not the color you want to see after a long night of shots. The long black bar stretches about half the length of the place, and there are a few tables and chairs in the rear. When it gets hot outside, the bartenders open the front and side windows, which lets in a stream of fresh air to keep you cool.

Almost everybody's had one bad night when they drank way too much cheap tequila and swore off Mexican liquor for the rest of their lives. Years later, just hearing the word "tequila" makes some people shudder. Loosen up - not all tequila is so beastly.

Lime offers 90 shots, ranging from about $5 to $60. Some of them torch your throat, but others go down super smooth. Ask the bartenders, and they'll find one that suits your tastes. By the way, the $60 one isn't that marvelous, though it does come in a mini brandy sniffer.

Lime also claims to have "Baltimore's Best Margarita," an award they acknowledge they made up themselves, though their 15 or so specialty drinks are definitely in the running. My favorite is the Miracle on Fort Street, a mix of Milagro Blanco, Cointreau and a house sour, served in a large glass on the rocks. As for salt? We don't need no stinking salt. One drawback: It's $9, which is about the average there.

If you're not into liquor, go for one of Lime's dozen-odd imported beers. One plus side: All you need is a name to start a tab. You pay up at the end of the night - the way it should be.

If you plan on coming back (which you probably will), sign up for the Lime Tequila Club. For $25, you get a Lime T-shirt, a free shot of Patron Silver and a card listing every shot Lime offers. The goal is to knock back all 90 of them in three months or less (there's a maximum of four a night).

Complete the 90 shots in 90 days challenge, and you get your own bottle of Patron Silver behind the bar and a $500 in-house gift certificate. As of last week, five guys and one gal had finished. To celebrate the first female Tequila Club member, the bar gave everyone a free shot.

Most nights, everyone is a fun mix of friendly, cut-loose natives and revitalizers. One recent evening, a yokel pulled up his neon orange striped button-down shirt, stroked his furry stomach and asked our bartender whether she wanted some "100 percent imported chinchilla."

"Imported from where?" the bartender asked.

"My mother!" he replied.

I howled and had another shot, but still couldn't get the gross picture of that guy's chest hair out of my head. Pure stankiness.

The same crowd is bound to be at tomorrow's event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Lime has permission to block off Boyle Street and throw an all-day party with music, T-shirt and drinking glass giveaways and a tournament where you try to toss bean bags into a wooden box with a hole on top.

If you want to check Lime out but don't want to spend much cash, try it on twofer Tuesdays or on Mondays, when margaritas are half-price. Either way, it's a great place to party.

Lime is at 801 E. Fort Ave. Hours are 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Mondays-Saturdays. Call 410-685-5463.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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