I came to Baltimore yesterday to celebrate the fact that my grandfather’s whiskey is finally starting to make it onto the shelves of America’s finest liquor stores. First stop was Harborview Liquors in Federal Hill, where I was told by the distributor that a nice woman named Liz had ordered a case of Knobel. I walked into the store and sure enough, there it was. It was the first time I’d ever seen it on a shelf, and I must say, I like the way it looked. I asked if Liz was around, and she was.
Liz Hartlove is pure Baltimore. She grabbed my hand and told me she loved me, which I took as a great compliment. When I offered to sign the bottles she had on her shelf, she told me she loved me even more. As I was signing, I overheard her make a phone call.
“Scott! Get the hell over here, right now.”
Twenty seconds later, a man walked into the store with a woman on his arm.
“Holy crap,” said Scott. “I can’t believe you’re standing here.”
“Everyone has to be somewhere,” I said.
“This is my neighbor,” said Liz. “He’s been watching you for years.”
Scott told me he’s seen every episode of Dirty Jobs.
“Thanks,” I said. “Me too.”
He introduced his wife, Mariah.
“Mariah? Like the girl in the song?”
Mariah nodded, and I sang a few bars of an old song called “They Call the Wind Mariah,” that no one under fifty has ever heard of.
“Oh my God,” said Mariah, “why do you know that song?”
“Because I’m over fifty,” I said.
Scott noticed my grandfather’s whiskey on Liz’s counter. “What’s this?”
“This is Knobel Tennessee Whiskey,” I said. “I launched it to celebrate the return of Dirty Jobs, which was inspired by my grandfather, Carl Knobel.”
“That’s awesome,” said Scott. “Can I buy a bottle?”
“If it’s okay with Liz, it’s okay with me,” I said.
Scott bought a bottle and Liz said, “Happy Birthday.”
“It’s your birthday” I asked?
“It is,” said Scott. “I’m 46 years old today. Want to come to my party?”
“If it’s okay with Mariah, it’s okay with me. When is it?”
“Right now,” he said.
A few minutes later I was inside one of the many charming brick homes in Federal Hill, eating chicken, petting dogs, singing Happy Birthday, and sipping my grandfather’s whiskey with some new friends.
Only in Baltimore…
P.S. If you’re in the hood, and so inclined, Liz might have a few signed bottles left…