Walk down nearly any street in the bustling Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore and you’ll notice it’s lined with busy bars and restaurants. You’d be hard-pressed to leave this neighborhood hungry (or sober), creating some stiff competition for newer venues. Wayward Smokehouse, which opened its doors in 2016, separates itself from the pack by providing patrons with decadent, delicious Southern food (um, hello Pimento Crab Mac & Cheese) and simple-yet-solid cocktails. We chatted with General Manager Bobby Jones about getting his start in the business on a whim, his love for rum and bubbly pink wine, and his golden rule for bartenders and patrons alike. He’ll also share his recipes for two amazing Belle Isle cocktails, Stawbanero and Spiked Chocolate Milk! Read on for all of this, plus a peek at Bobby’s adorable pooch, Remy.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…
I’m Bobby Jones, the General Manager at Wayward Smokehouse in Baltimore. I’ve been bartending for 10 years, and General Manager at Wayward for two and a half years.
What first got you behind the bar?
I was working as a fry cook during the day at my old job. The owner owned a cruise ship in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. About 15 minutes before I was getting off, he asked me what I was doing that night. I said “Nothing, why?” He handed me a $50 bill and said, “Go to Old Navy. Get yourself a polo and a pair of shorts. Go to Barnes and Noble and pick up a bartending book. Save the rest for tolls, parking, and gas.” The rest is history.
Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?
You have two hands. Use them.
Favorite drink made by someone else?
Hinkle. Named after an Ocean City Legend. Bacardi Limón, iced tea, splash of cranberry, and sweetener.
Favorite drink that you make?
Captain’s Crush: Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, triple sec, fresh-squeezed OJ, splash of Sprite. It, surprisingly, tastes like a creamsicle without tasting like fake imitation vanilla.
Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?
Bubbly rosé. All day
If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Dark rum. With soda water and neutral mixers, it carries a whiskey taste. With juices and aromatics, it’s always refreshing and tropical. With ginger beer, it’s a favorite one-plus-one drink.
What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?
I’ve worked both “front of the house” and “back of the house,” so I have a lot of war stories. But connecting the FOH and BOH together is always fun to me. I love talking to people about food, beers that go with the food, cocktails, and just connecting with people, in general.
What makes your bar unique?
We have a custom table that is made from reclaimed wood from around Baltimore. It has a custom concrete trough that we fill with ice so people can put their beers in. Above it is a light fixture that is made from an old railroad tie from the B&O Railroad Museum. It’s the first table when you walk in the building, so it’s always a “wow” factor.
Where do you like to stop in for a drink?
Thames Street Oyster House. It’s one of the only bars in the city that has Narragansett. ‘Gansett is one of the my favorite beers, and their raw bar is phenomenal.
What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in your city?
Baltimore is fickle. It’s referred to as “Small-timore” frequently, and everyone knows everyone. People are so set in their ways, whether it’s finding craft beer and cocktails or drinking Bud Light and Jack Daniels. So being somewhere in the middle is crucial.
Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.
Be nice. You don’t know how someone’s day has been. It goes for both sides of the bar.
What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?
Cold Brew Coffee White Russian is a guilty pleasure of mine.
1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero
¾ oz. lime juice
1 oz. strawberry pureé
1 egg white
Rim glass with Tajín. Add all ingredients except egg white to a shaker tin over ice. Shake and strain in coupe glass. Dry shake egg white until frothy, then layer on cocktail.
1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee
4 oz. house-made chocolate milk
topped with bourbon whipped cream**
Chill first two ingredients separately, then combine them in a mixing glass. Stir lightly, then pour into a highball glass. Top with a dollop of bourbon whipped cream.
**In a mixing bowl, hand-whip one cup of chilled heavy cream with one tablespoon of powdered sugar until fluffy peaks appear. Slowly add in one tablespoon of bourbon.
All photos by Joey Wharton.
Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.
We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.
Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.
From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.
Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.