Brannan’s Pub (#49)

22 10 2010

If there’s ever an advertisement for getting out of your neighborhood comfort zone, it would be Brannan’s Pub on a Thursday night.  I have never felt more welcome in a new bar in a new neighborhood than I felt there last night.  Within 45 seconds of walking through the door, a regular had given up his bar stool so that my friend and I could sit down.  That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the night.  From the doorwoman (also a part owner), to the bartenders, to the regulars, the very diverse crowd at Brannan’s was so friendly and open, it was almost unreal.

The drinks were cheap ($2.00 drafts in a frozen plastic mug), which is good, since they don’t take credit cards.  By the way, those frozen mugs are kept cold in a fridge which bears a bumper sticker that says “If it smells like fish, eat it.”  I already love this place.  It is obvious from the decor that this is a Ravens bar (see shrine picture below), and the bartender confirmed that the place is packed on Sundays.  They also have a DJ on Friday nights, but what’s going to bring ME back to Brannan’s is the “Best Karaoke in Baltimore.”

About that karaoke…  I have never seen anything like it.  No offense to our beloved Walt’s Inn, which has its own charm (and will be coming up soon on The List), but this place put it to shame.  The crowd skewed significantly older and the song choices were more R&B and Motown, with some Sinatra and country thrown into the mix.  In other words, there were no drunken 24-year-olds screaming “Don’t Stop Believing” at the top of their lungs, and that was a good thing.  I was too shy to test my pipes in front of this crowd, but I was told by many regulars that no one would ever disrespect someone who had the nerve to get up there, even if they sounded bad.  I would have to believe it, given how genuinely nice everyone was.

A few highlights of the evening included:

  • Meeting a guy around 24 years old, who was there with his mother.  While she was wowing the room with her take on “Mrs. Jones,” I asked him whether he often hangs out with his Mom.  He replied with an emphatic, “Hell yeah, she’s awesome.”  I had to agree.  And then I tried to remember the last time I saw a mother and son at a bar together.
  • Having my compliment to one gentleman on his rendition of a Sinatra song earn me a personal serenade of an Engelbert Humperdinck song on his next turn at the microphone.
  • But the best line of the night came from an older guy, who responded to me asking him whether he was going to sing, with this gem:  “No, but if I did, your panties would drop.  Right off.”

The karaoke eventually had to end, but the singing didn’t stop.  A group of about 8 people lingered, singing a cappella Motown songs in 4-part harmony.  All the new friends we had made enthusiastically encouraged us to come back, and to be prepared to sing on our next visit.  It’s a bit of a hike from my neighborhood (Brannan’s is in Hamilton, on Harford Road), but I’ll definitely be back- maybe after some karaoke practice at Walt’s.