I have spring fever. It's mid April, the weather is beautiful, and I have zero vacation time until July. Productivity at work is at an all-time low as I stare out the window and daydream about tanning in exotic lands, sampling exotic cuisine and fully immersing myself in another culture (read: escaping from this one).
Without a real cure, I've been in search of "daycation" cocktail destinations that set the mood, making me feel as though I've been transported. Of course, the alcohol helps stimulate my motivation. This week, I'm back from a refreshing visit to the Mediterranean via Harbor East, thanks to Ouzo Bay's Aegean Daisy.
There's a reason Ouzo Bay is riding high as one of the hottest spots in Baltimore: It's cool personified. The mellow blue lighting and clean, modern decor, coupled with the floor-length, open windows and lush terrace seating create a sexy, inviting atmosphere. A siren's song of Greek epicurean delights, Ouzo Bay prides itself on its careful attention to an authentic experience. But don't worry. While, as the name implies, Ouzo Bay keeps 10-12 different varieties of the potent anise-flavored liquor on hand, they also boast a small but impressive list of handcrafted cocktails using, as beverage director Julian Albornoz calls them, "boutique spirits" — basically, rare or small-batch booze. The aptly named Aegean Daisy is one of the restaurant's most popular orders, according to Albornoz, because of its light, approachable flavor — perfect for spring.
Interestingly, the Aegean Daisy is not based around Greek culture at all, but is a Japanese and French infusion. Hangar One "Buddha's Hand" Citron, named for the zesty Japanese fruit, and Royal Combier, a French orange liqueur, mingle for a smooth and spicy citrus cocktail. House-made grenadine syrup adds a hint of cherry while a final sprig of fresh mint rounds out the drink, creating a light fruit cocktail. Here, garnish isn't just for aesthetics; I suggest adding the mint directly to the drink for optimal refreshment. While it's is rather nectar-like in quality, the drink is really balanced by the addition of that herb.
If you close your eyes and listen to the wind snap in from the patio, you might just feel as though you're in the Isles themselves. And if you open them and realize you're still in Charm City, drink in the waterside view of neighboring Fells Point, and take a few more delicious sips.
How to Make The Aegean Daisy
2 oz. Hangar One "Buddha's Hand" Citron
1/2 oz. Royal Combier
1/2 oz. grenadine
Splash of soda water
Sprig of mint
Combine ingredients with ice; shake and serve up in cocktail glass; garnish with mint.
Where to Get The Aegean Daisy
1000 Lancaster St., Harbor East
$12 (all cocktails)