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Bar Hopping Through Ocean City, MD in the Off Season

by Jennifer Waldera on May 1, 2015 in Roundups
Bar Hopping Through Ocean City, MD in the Off Season

While we love to hit the beach in the summertime, we can’t resist a trip or two in the off-season to enjoy the eastern shore during a quieter time. However, as anyone who makes the winter or spring trip to the beach knows, finding watering holes that are open in the off months can be a challenge that sucks up valuable drinking time.

With that in mind, we made the supreme sacrifice and bar hopped our way around Ocean City, Maryland to find some of the best bars that are open whether it’s sunny and eighty degrees or flurries are falling. Cheers!

We have a sneaking suspicion we’re not the only ones jonesing for a beachy beer by the time we’ve made it over the Bay Bridge during our treks to the beach. While it’s still a distance from the bridge, Evolution Brewing Company’s brewery, tasting room and public house in Salisbury is the perfect place to stop to break up the drive and kick off your time off.

Brewing exclusively ales, Evolution has eleven on tap at the tasting room, including one (Primal) that, on a most recent visit, was running through muddled blueberries and mint in a randall. While we are big fans of Sprung, the earthy and floral seasonal brewed with honey, hibiscus and chamomile as well as the classic Lucky 7 Porter, we enjoyed the opportunity to taste exclusives to the tasting room like the Vitamin 6, brewed with orange juice and zest and the Rise Up Stout brewed with Rise Up coffee that bartender Donny accurately described as a “10% that drinks like a 5%”.

Evolution’s eats, crafted in the kitchen by Executive Chef David Wells, are equally enjoyable. Charcuterie and cheese plates are adorned with mustard seed, cornichons, sliced almonds and fresh bread while classic deviled eggs are garnished with scallions and a big chunk of bacon. Clams or mussels are served several ways - we couldn’t get enough of the tomato-based spicy sauce in the Thai Curry variety. Brisket served on brioche is moist and flavorful (and pairs well with the Lucky 7).  Burgers are a favorite of regulars, with a specialty burger featured daily.

If you’re lucky enough to arrive at select times on the weekends, you can also score a tour with the highly knowledgeable and enthusiastic Head Brewer Mike Piorunski. (20 E Vine St., Salisbury MD; 443-260-2337)

Kirby’s Pub
If you’re looking to go where the locals go, Kirby’s is your destination bar. Known for wings and beer specials, the small pub is a laid back, low-cost option perfect for day-drinking or staying out late. (9209 Coastal Hwy; 410-723-1700)

Liquid Assets

One of the classier spots in Ocean City, we love stopping by Liquid Assets for crafty cocktails or an afternoon of wine and cheese. LA also offers plenty of wine and beer in packaged good form. On a mid-week trip? Don’t miss the weekly Whiskey Wednesday events. (9301 Coastal Hwy; 410-524-7037)

Filled with families and groups of friends on the dining side, Ponzetti’s is always full in the summer. We love to snag a booth or high-top table in the sports bar to share pitchers and the top-notch pizza any time of year. Catch the O’s or the Ravens (or even the Caps during hockey season) playing on any of the many televisions. (144th St. and Coastal Hwy; 410-250-2624)
On the ground floor of the Holiday Inn (with locations in Lewes and Rehoboth, too), Touch of Italy has a cozy feel with brick walls and low lighting. Perfect for happy hour at the bar (or dinner at the tables), the trattoria offers a quality selection of wine, beer and Italian-inspired cocktails. Plenty of classic Italian dishes are on the menu as well as cured meats, cheeses and a happy hour pizza ideal for lining the stomach before a night out. (6600 Coastal Hwy; 302-703-3090)

Skye Bar
Offering one of the most expansive views from any bar in Ocean City, this glass-enclosed rooftop spot sits above the brand new General’s Kitchen (previously the home of Galaxy 66). For those who were fans of Galaxy 66’s food, fear not: much of the menu remains at Skye Bar. During happy hour, slurp oysters or clams for $1 each, or start with heavier appetizers like crab dip or cheesesteak nachos ($8 each). The cocktail list is beyond extensive with sparkling cocktails incorporating champagne and fruity liqueurs and dessert martinis like the Salted Cantaloupe, or one of our favorites, Tiramisu. There are almost two dozen wines by the glass and plenty of domestics, imports and craft beers as well. (66th St. and Coastal Hwy; 410-723-6762)

One of the newer breweries, Backshore’s small space sits beneath the Americana on 10th Street with a gorgeous view of the ocean. In the summer, the entire front of the bar is open allowing you to get pretty close to legally drinking on the beach. Pairing flights of brews with braided pretzels and beer cheese is the way we like to do it here, but there are plenty of creative pizzas and moonshine cocktails to try as well.

Note: In the off-season, Backshore is only open on Saturday and Sunday. (913 Atlantic Ave.; 410-289-0008)

Fager’s Island

You can call ahead for a reservation in the fine dining area, but we prefer to sidle up to the bar for ridiculously tasty (and boozy) Rum Runners or one of the local brews on tap and light fare like oysters from the raw bar. Also, Jazz Brunch happens every Sunday at this waterfront spot from 10:30 AM–3 PM. (201 60th St.; 410-524-5500)
Photo via Shark on the Harbor

Shark on the Harbor

Situated in West O.C., this spot, with a breathtaking water view from any seat, is ideal for lunch, a romantic date or for an afternoon of tasting wine from various flight options. The cuisine is new American with a large amount of Chesapeake-inspired dishes and locally sourced meats and vegetables. Many dishes incorporate international flair with flavors from the Mediterranean or Asia.

Make a reservation, or get there early because this place fills up fast. (12924 Sunset Ave.; 410-213-0924)

Open till 2 AM every day in the off-season (and 4 AM in the summer), Johnny’s is the place to go if you’re looking to stay out til closing time. The mixed drink menu is unbelievably long with martinis, margaritas and daiquiris clocking in at only $8. There’s also a hefty list of shooters and a handful of crushes along with plenty of beer and a few wine choices, too. And while we definitely enjoyed sipping our way through the cocktail list and noshing on pizza here, one of the highlights that brought us back more than once was that the bar staff was consistently one of the friendliest, and most fun, we’ve run into in the off-season. (5601 Coastal Hwy; 410-524-7499)

Any list of beach bars in Ocean City wouldn’t be complete without Seacrets, the bayside Jamaican themed bar and restaurant with no shortage of specials for day-drinking or happy hour swilling. Throw back brews or sip signature cocktails, nosh on anything from smaller bites, like jerk chicken or nachos, to steaks and seafood dishes and catch music from dj’s or local bands at likely the most expansive nightlife venue in OC. (117 49th St.; 410-524-4900)

Top photo via Backshore Brewing Company

Tags: Beer, Cocktails, Food, Spirits, Wine
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