My list of "must-see" places in Pittsburgh has generally been pretty short and slow to change. Some of the increasingly crowded spots like Church Brew Works have started to slip lower, and other up-and-coming spots are over-hyped or smack suspiciously of manufactured character.
One spot that is the real deal, however, is Maggie's Farm Rum. It's no exaggeration to say that it's off the beaten path; tucked away just east of Pittsburgh's strip district, the small bar is nearly under a railroad bridge over 33rd St. Its original sign was incredibly unassuming (and delightfully inviting):
It was just such a serendipitous chance that led my friends past this sign on a Sunday afternoon, and the rest is history. Perhaps that kind of personal discovery has biased it in my favor, but subsequent visits have objectively confirmed it as worthy of the top spot on my list of places I'll take you if you visit me in Pittsburgh.
The distillers at Maggie's Farm (the still can be seen behind the bar) currently make two rums: a white and a spiced, and will soon be offering for sale the "Queen's Share" in limited quantities. Each week they offer a number of delicious rum cocktails, and I'm not embarrassed to say that between the four of us, we tried them all. My favorite is the rum old fashioned, which (as advertised) ranks right up there with the best bourbon old fashioneds I've ever had. (And I'm serious about my old fashioneds). They were all great, but some of the standouts were the Corn'n'Oil (made with their homemade falernum liqueur), the Painkiller, and of course the Mojito.
Maggie's Farm is exactly the kind of Pittsburgh business I earnestly want to do well. The inimitable atmosphere is a product of the kind of unique creative energy that the city seems to engender. The rum is delicious too, and for me has put the spirit back on the map. Make sure to try it out! And let me know when you go; I may join you.
Industry in Lawrenceville. We stopped here on our way downtown to see the last opera of the season, Philip Glass's Orphee. It was a little cool outside, but that didn't stop me from ordering the saison on the menu: Green Flash Saison Diego. Four stars.
The Industry Smokestack: Bulleit Rye smoked over cherry wood.
After Industry we stopped for one more drink at one of the best secrets in Pittsburgh: Maggie's Farm Rum, way off the beaten path on the back roads of the strip. Kendra and Garret discovered this place thanks to the brilliant marketing strategy: Rum for Sale.
The rum old fashioned or the corn'n'oil would be my recommendation. I'd never really considered myself a rum enthusiast, but this place just might change my mind.
Of course the opera was the main event, but I'll discuss that in more detail soon.