Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Maryland has a handful of nicknames, including Free State, Old Line State and America in Miniature/Little America. Regardless of name, the state refused to participate in prohibition, and that’s good enough to draw the Sip Advisor there:
Motto: “Manly deeds, womanly words” – Well, that’s a loaded slogan…
Food: Chicken Maryland (pan fried/steamed chicken in a white cream gravy) or State Crustacean, Maryland Blue Crab, would make for a fantastic main course. You could follow that with the State Dessert, Smith Island Cake, which has multiple thin layers of cake separated by crème or frosting, all topped with chocolate icing.
Drink: National Bohemian Beer (commonly known as Natty Boh) is the official beer of Baltimore, having been first brewed there in 1885. Now owned by Pabst, the lager is no longer produced in Baltimore, but the city still accounts for much of the beer’s sales. Natty Boh can be credited as the first beer ever sold in a six-pack.
Site to See: Fort McHenry, which played a part in inspiring the writing of what would become the American National Anthem, guards Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, a tourist destination itself, thanks to attractions such as the National Aquarium. Restaurants and other business keep the area busy at all times.
Street: The National Road is one of the oldest routes in America, beginning in Cumberland, in 1811. The highway stretches 620 miles west, ending in Vandalia, Illinois (the former capital). Driving its entirety has been suggested as a bucket list road trip.
TV Show: The Wire has been called one of the greatest TV shows of all-time, despite not receiving any Emmy Awards during its run. Set in Baltimore, each of the show’s five seasons introduced a different aspect of the city (drugs, port, government, education, media) and how it relates to law enforcement.
Movie: The Blair Witch Project became a pop culture phenomenon in the summer of 1999, also relaunching the found footage subgenre of horror films. Set in the Black Hills, near Burkittsville, the movie tells the tale of three student filmmakers, who are researching the urban legend of the Blair Witch. The movie became one of the most successful independent movies of all-time and turned into its own franchise.
Book/Author: Tom Clancy was born in Baltimore and is best known for his spy novels, often featuring protagonist Jack Ryan. These works have been turned into successful movies and TV shows, starring a number of Hollywood’s leading men. Clancy’s books have also launched a popular video game franchise.
Fictional Character: Two Julia Louis-Dreyfus characters hail from Maryland: Elaine Benes from Seinfeld and Selina Meyer from VEEP. Louis-Dreyfus, who was raised in the state, won Emmy Awards for her portrayal of both, taking the trophy home once for Elaine and six years in a row for Selina.
Fictional City: Woodcrest, setting for The Boondocks comic and animated sitcom, is thought to be based on the city of Columbia, where creator Aaron McGruder was raised. Some fans argue the setting is actually in Illinois, but clues such as one of the characters having a Baltimore area code phone number are persuasive.
Actor/Actress: A bunch of famous actors/actresses were raised in Maryland, but I typically go with someone born in the state for this category. Therefore, we’ll go with a trio of famous females, each from Baltimore. This includes Anna Faris of the Scary Movie franchise, Julie Bowen from Modern Family and Jada Pinkett Smith, aka Mrs. Will Smith.
Song: Baltimore was written by Randy Newman and most notably performed by Nina Simone with a reggae cover. The dark lyrics of the song describe a city in turmoil, although Newman apparently only visited the city once before penning the tune. Some have suggested this song would have been a great theme song for The Wire and I couldn’t agree more.
Band/Musician: Singer Billie Holiday had a great influence on jazz music over a three-decade long career. Born Eleanora Fagan, Holiday grew up in Baltimore and became a successful concert performer. Each of her four Grammys were awarded posthumously and she was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1973.
People: Two icons of the Civil Rights Movement, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, were born into slavery in Maryland. Douglass escaped and became a leader of the abolitionist movement, while Tubman also escaped and became a figurehead of the Underground Railroad, used to help fellow slaves become free.
Animal: Rise and Conquer, live mascots of the Baltimore Ravens NFL team, live at the Maryland Zoo. The brothers were hatched on April 16, 2009 and appear before each Ravens home game for free photos with fans, as well as on the field sidelines, sporting costumes with the team’s logo.
Invention: Two landmark Maryland creations would go on to greatly influence Mrs. Sip and myself. For Mrs. Sip, she can thank William Rind for opening the first circulating library in North America, in 1762. The Sip Advisor can heap praise on William Painter for inventing the crown bottle cap, still found on beers and other beverages to this day.
Crime: Joseph Metheny claimed to have killed 13 people, beginning with two homeless men he attacked with an axe. His nickname, The Cannibal, was earned when he opened a roadside barbecue stand and mixed in the flesh of his victims with the food he was doling out to customers. Although Metheny’s death sentence was overturned, he died in prison in 2017.
Law: Both giving and receiving oral sex is illegal in Maryland. The law also applies to animals… so beware!
Sports Team: The Baltimore Orioles (MLB) and Ravens (NFL), as well as the Washington Redskins (NFL) play in Maryland. The state is also host of the Preakness Stakes thoroughbred race, which makes up the second leg of the American Triple Crown.
Athlete: This was a tough category to narrow down as baseball legends ‘The Sultan of Swat’ Babe Ruth and ‘The Iron Man’ Cal Ripken Jr. were both born in Maryland. Add to that, swimmer Michael Phelps, who has won the most medals in Olympics history with 28 (23 of them gold medals), is also from the state.
Famous Home: Among some other notable birthplaces in the state, the Clara Barton National Historic Site was very important, as Barton not only lived at the residence, but used it as the headquarters for the American Red Cross, which she founded in 1881. The home has been restored for visitors to get a sense of how Barton lived and operated her organization.
Urban Legend: The circumstances regarding the 1849 death of writer, Edgar Allan Poe, in Baltimore, have always been mysterious. Theories have included suicide, murder, illness, disease, and even cooping, a form of electoral fraud. From the 1930’s to 2009, an unidentified man and later his son, visited Poe’s grave every year on his birthday, dressed in black and pouring a toast of cognac in Poe’s memory. The visitor would then depart, leaving the cognac bottle and three roses arranged in a particular pattern.
Museum: The William P. Didusch Center for Urologic History, in Linthicum, also doubles as the headquarters for the American Urological Association. Exhibits include a massive collection of kidney stones, while also telling the tale of surgeries used to treat the malady, throughout history.
Firsts: This one is for Pa Sip, an avid rail fan. Some say the railroads built America, connecting the country piece by piece. Well, the very first of those links was built in Baltimore, with the first major railroad station. Opened on January 7, 1830, the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad used the terminal. B&O was also the first railway in the U.S.
Company: The Johns Hopkins Medical Campus, consisting of a university and hospital, as well as schools for nursing, medicine, and hygiene and public health, were all founded posthumously from the large estate left behind by Marylander, Johns Hopkins. Located in Baltimore, the institutions are famous for medical advancements in a variety of fields.
Events: The bloodiest day of the Civil War took place at the Battle of Antietam, on September 17, 1862. Located near Sharpsburg, the fighting resulted in close to 23,000 wounded, missing or killed. All these losses for a battle that is widely considered a draw, although it did lead to President Abraham Lincoln making his Emancipation Proclamation, freeing 3.5 million Confederate state slaves.
Miscellaneous: The U.S. National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, was written by Marylander Francis Scott Key, on Septmeber 13, 1814, as he watched Fort McHenry being attacked by the British, during the War of 1812. Key, a lawyer, was inspired by seeing the American flag still flying, despite the fighting.
The Black-Eyed Susan
- 1 oz Bourbon
- 1 oz Vodka
- 1 oz Peach Schnapps
- Top with Orange Juice
- Splash of Sour Mix
- Garnish with an Orange Slice and Cherry
Named after Maryland’s State Flower, this interesting combo of liquors and mixers is the official cocktail of the Preakness Stakes. While some recipe variations exist, I’ve gone with the version served up annually at the famous thoroughbred race, to see what all the hubbub is about.