Drain your martini glass, not your wallet, at Hummers in Canton

ON NIGHTLIFE

January 22, 2009|By SAM SESSA | SAM SESSA,sam.sessa@baltsun.com

A name says a lot about a bar.

A newly renovated corner bar trying to lure in neighborhood residents needs to have the right name. Otherwise, people might get the wrong impression.

That's the biggest drawback for Hummers Bar and Grill in Canton. With a name like Hummers, you expect to walk into a no-frills sports bar. And though I can see myself going there for a football or baseball game, it's a good deal more than your average sports bar.

Instead, Hummers is a sharp, clean and streamlined bar and lounge. Even though it's only been open for a month, it's already developing a distinct identity as a go-to bar for great drinks that won't drain your wallet.

Since Hummers is pretty much out of walking range from Canton Square, its biggest hurdle will be consistently bringing in neighborhood residents while also catering to Canton bar-hoppers.

"We try and keep everything very inexpensive," said general manager Uriah Burow. "We know as you go deeper into Canton toward the square, things increase in price. The beer and the booze here is the same booze you're going to get down there. Ours is just more economical."

I just wish they'd picked another name for the place. Burow said owner Sherry Rosensteen named it after her two Hummer vehicles and wouldn't settle on anything else.

"I was like, 'Look, you name it what you want to name it,' " he said. "She had her heart set on it."

My pal Joe and I stopped by for happy hour Friday evening and were stunned to learn that draft Yueng-

lings and Coors Lights were only $1 between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays. That made ordering our first drink a no-brainer.

Side note: When we were there, Hummers had four beers on tap - Yuengling, Coors Light, Backfin and Samuel Adams. Not bad.

We hopped on two bar stools at the freshly stained bar and asked for two Yuenglings. Sports recaps played on the two large flat-screen TVs behind the bar, which you see as soon as you walk in. Farther back, a handful of other patrons sunk into plush, puffy leather chairs in the lounge area.

Hummers also has a second floor, which Burow hopes to turn into a game room in coming months.

"It's still open on exactly what the layout will be up there," he said. "It's coming along."

Burow also hopes to have the kitchen up and running by the Super Bowl and plans to offer standard pub grub and a handful of small plates.

Back before we'd ordered our beers, the bartender had set the martini list in front of us. I'd heard that Hummers had some delicious (and inexpensive) martinis, so I cracked the slim black book and peeked inside.

There were 10 specialty martinis. The Head Rush (Stoli orange or blueberry vodka with Tuaca and Red Bull) and Sunset (Stoli vanilla, Captain Morgan spiced rum, black raspberry liqueur and pineapple) jumped off the page. I couldn't help but chuckle at the name of the Dirty Girl Scout, a mix of Stoli Vanilla, green creme de menthe, white creme de cacao and Baileys Irish Cream.

I liked how the list didn't bother with classic drinks like Manhattans or Sidecars. Chances are, you're not going to look at a drink list and order one of those. Instead, the owners stuck a line at the bottom of the list that said, "All classic martinis also available." We tried one classic and one specialty drink.

Joe ordered a Manhattan, which can be off-putting if it's not well-made; this one was. The bartender even made sure the glass was cold by letting ice water sit in it while he made the mix.

Since my nightlife and local entertainment blog is named Midnight Sun (baltimoresun.com/midnight

sun), I couldn't help but order a drink called the Midnight.

The bartender twisted a strip of lemon peel over the empty glass before pouring a Patron XO Cafe tequila liqueur and Kahlua coffee-flavored liqueur. The Kahlua smoothed over the tequila's edge and made for a dark and rich, but not too sweet, sip.

The best part? Hummers' martinis are $7. That's not half-bad, especially for name-brand liquors.

"We want to be known as the home of the $7 martini," Burow said.

Even having seen the price list, I was taken aback to pick up the check and see a tab for two beers and two martinis come to only $16.

Granted, the beer was at happy-hour prices, but the martinis are always $7. That makes Hummers one of my new favorite hangouts for cheap, tasty cocktails.

if you go

Hummers Bar and Grill is at 3242 Foster Ave. Hours are 4 p.m.-2 a.m. weekdays; noon-2 a.m. Saturdays; and noon until the last customer leaves or 2 a.m. - whichever comes first - Sundays. Call 410-522-1696.

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