If you’re looking to grab a quick drink or quality cocktail in Baltimore, you’re in luck: Charm City is home to three of America’s best bars, according to Esquire magazine.

Church, in Old Goucher, and Ash Bar and Bloom’s, both of which are in Mount Vernon’s Hotel Ulysses, were named to Esquire’s annual list, on which there are just 33 establishments in total.

The magazine talks up the “subtle” cues in Church, such as a greeter standing behind a pulpit, the pipes lining the bar like an organ and the wooden pews where guests can sit. They also highlight that Church was founded by Chelsea Gregoire, who was named as the magazine’s beverage director of the year in 2019.

While Esquire suggests trying the Host, a delightful, briny martini, you’ll have to wait: Gregoire said in a Facebook post in late May they were stepping away from leading Church and that the establishment would temporarily close until new owners take over.

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Gregoire said in a Facebook message with The Baltimore Banner on Thursday that the recognition by the magazine was amazing but also bittersweet as they step away operationally.

“I’m really thrilled to see Church take its next steps, and I can’t wait for Baltimore to enjoy Church’s next chapter as well,” Gregoire said.

Church, a bar in Old Goucher, was named to Esquire magazine’s list of the best bars in America. (Cody Boteler)

In the meantime, you can definitely still visit Ash Bar and Bloom’s, described by Esquire as “two of the most charming bars to ever flank a hotel lobby.”

The magazine celebrates Ash Bar’s hours (open for your breakfast and nightcap needs), beautiful wood paneling and rattan furniture, while referring to Bloom’s as “a disco ball of a bar,” noting its mirrored bar and curved shape that lets you see everyone around you. (Esquire’s pro tip? A Midori sour at Bloom’s.)

In an emailed statement, Ari S. Heckman, co-founder & CEO of Ash, the company behind Ulysses, said it was a thrill to have both bars on the list. “Bars in general are magical places, and this honor is a testament to the great people who make these rooms sing every night,” he said.

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Only a few other cities had more than one bar selected by Esquire, and only two — New York City and San Francisco — had more than three.

A wide range of Baltimore establishments have been recognized by the yearly list, going as far back as 2006 when Shamrock Inn in Hamilton was highlighted, according to a spokesperson for the magazine. Most recently, Fadensonnen and Ministry of Brewing were recognized in 2021.

Other Baltimore establishments that have been recognized by Esquire include The Brewer’s Art in 2007; Rye in 2014; Bad Decisions in 2015; Mount Royal Tavern in 2016; and The Elk Room in 2018.


Cody Boteler is a reporter on The Banner’s Express Desk, reporting on breaking news, trending stories and interesting things in and around Baltimore. His work has appeared in The Baltimore Sun, USA TODAY, Baltimore magazine and others.

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