The Doherty

Maryland House at Brennan's, 4659-A Maryland Avenue, 314-361-9444.

Maryland House at Brennan's

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The cocktails at Maryland House are named after regulars, which is a good idea for a few reasons. First, it invites patrons to participate in the process of popularizing a drink. Seeking to impress their friends, namesakes will order their cocktails again and again. Plus, they'll immediately become members of a very exclusive club, which will encourage them to frequently return to Maryland House. "Don't you know who I am? I'm The Doherty!" Bonus: If a regular misbehaves, the bartender can always threaten to change his/her drink's name to the Asshole or the Idiot.

Of course, only insiders will know who's named after what. It's not like there's a Susan Walker (Hendrick's gin and tonic with a lime wedge) on the menu, though there should be. Rather, we get the Nite Fox (not named after us, alas), and the Schwantz, the Grown on a Tree and the Nicki, Nicki, Nicki.

Maryland House is a second-floor restaurant/bar that sits above Brennan's, the Central West End's excellent wine and cigar shop. The House has been open for about a year now and has quickly become one of the district's most popular bars. Tonight we're drinking the Doherty, named after a part-time pilot who frequents Maryland House when he's not ferrying corporate executives to and from meetings. It's a riff on a perfect Manhattan (Canadian whiskey, dry vermouth, vermouth rosso, Angostura bitters and a stemmed cherry): Irish whiskey, sweet and dry vermouth, and an orange wedge, which beautifies the whiskey. (Why Jack Daniel's isn't offering citrus-infused whiskey is beyond us, though we should be careful what we wish for, lest we be bombarded with a line of bullshit.)

In addition to having the honor of a namesake cocktail bestowed upon him, the "Doherty" in question is also credited with being the first person to fall down Maryland House's stairs, one of the few downsides to operating a second-floor bar. (We love second-floor bars.) Those who witnessed the incident, however, say he actually floated down and landed in a graceful-but-crumpled ball at the bottom, where he promptly stood, straightened himself and continued on.

The Doherty pairs very well with Maryland House's fantastic mushroom orecchiette. Where the latter is deep and earthy, the former's tart and sweet, and something in the pasta brings out the tang of the orange. Although pairing whiskey with food is a relatively unexamined art — it goes well with fish and chips, too — beer/food pairings are all the rage these days, and we're always looking to push the envelope, especially when it comes to proper whiskey-drinking technique.

It should also be mentioned that on the night we hit Maryland House, James Brown reigned supreme on the sound system, which in and of itself warrants a big round of applause. In fact, the funk triumvirate — JB, Curtis Mayfield and Prince — ruled the night, an instant party. The Godfather's hardened grunts were the perfect companion to Superfly's sweet, sweet falsetto, the whiskey to the orange slice, the floating pilot to the graceful fall.

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