In May 2018, The Elk Room in Baltimore was named one of the best bars in the country. The accolade is in no small part thanks to Andrew Nichols, who can concoct “inspired drinks of and with nearly anything.”
As the Elk Room’s bar manager, Nichols whips up historically themed, wildly creative cocktails like the Stone Fence, made with Glenfiddich 12-Year Single Malt Scotch, Ron Zacapa 23-Year, green chartreuse, mulled cider, and birch. Drinks and drams are paired with everything from tacos to rabbit corn dogs. In June 2018, Nichols’ creations made an appearance at a Baltimore-themed event at the James Beard House in New York, too.
Nichols recently took the time to fill VinePair in on what to drink when faced with existential dread, why he’ll never order a Bloody Mary, and which bourbon fits pretty much any occasion.
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What’s your desert-island drink?
A Mai Tai made with Wray & Nephew 17, of which there are only a few bottles left in existence. The provenance of such a drink might temporarily lift the existential dread that comes with being stranded on an island.
What’s the first drink you bought when you turned 21?
The first drink that I purchased at a bar was Maker’s Mark and Coke. I thought that made me look cooler than ordering a Jack and Coke. My palate for whiskey would be acquired much later.
FMK three cocktails: Negroni, Margarita, Manhattan?
F*ck: Margarita, Marry: Negroni, Kill: Manhattan.
You’re on death row. What’s your final drink?
Weller 12-Year with a couple drops of water. My favorite whiskey of all time.
You can only drink at one bar for the rest of your life. What is it?
The Nomad Bar in New York City. A combination of a great spirits selection, perfect service, perfect cocktails, and great food. On top of that, the ambiance and bar design are stellar.
What’s the best and worst bottle on your shelf?
Truthfully, I don’t invest much in my personal collection… Most of it is pretty straightforward. Best bottle on my home bar is Weller Special Reserve. Nothing beats that bottle as far as value is concerned. It is also fairly difficult to get your hands on in Maryland. Worst bottle on my shelf is a tie between all the flavored Bacardi I was given as samples.
What cocktail will you never order again?
I despise Bloody Marys with a passion. I ordered one shortly after turning 21 as a sort of rite of passage or social obligation. Never again.