On The Town

Thanksgiving Eve Remains a Time-Honored Tradition in Baltimore

We round up the best bar specials and live music performances to reconnect with your home-for-the-holiday crew.

Back in the fall of 2001, Kenny Liner rented out the old Paloma’s space in Mt. Vernon to host the first-ever show that he and his bandmates would play as The Bridge. The concert just so happened to fall on Thanksgiving Eve, making it convenient for a bunch of old friends to hear the band’s debut while back in town for the holiday.

“Like so many other awesome things in life, that part was just a coincidence that wound up being a great idea,” Liner told us in 2019. “Five-hundred people showed up to a place that could only hold like 200. It was a really crazy, awesome time.”

Although the members of the iconic funk-and-blues collective have since parted ways, they’ve made a tradition of playing a reunion show during the Thanksgiving break each year.

Once again, the six-man crew—including celebrated vocalist Cris Jacobs, saxophonist Patrick Rainey, bass player Dave Markowitz, drummer Mike Gambone, and keyboard player Mark Brown—is getting together for two sold-out performances at The 8×10 November 26-27. Celebrating the band’s 20-year anniversary, this year’s shows are sure to be special.

“It’s all about nostalgia for us,” Liner told us. “We definitely come up with some good ideas to keep people interested, but we know that, at this point, when people are coming to see The Bridge they’re not coming to hear new stuff. They want to hear the songs that they miss hearing.”

Whether squeezing their way through the crowd at the annual Bridge reunion, or heading to neighborhood bars to catch up with old friends, Baltimoreans have grown to embrace Thanksgiving Eve as a requisite kickoff to the fall holiday. Liner credited this, in part, to the area’s tight-knit high school culture.

“So many people are happy to come home and make those connections from their childhood and high school years,” he said. “On Thanksgiving, Thursday is for the families, but Wednesday is for the friends.”

In keeping with that sentiment, we’ve rounded up a few bar specials and events perfect for celebrating with your best buds. Before filling up on turkey, head to these spots around town to jumpstart the long weekend in style.

Drink Deals at Bandito’s, Wayward, and The Curious Oyster in White Marsh: These sister-spots on The Avenue at White Marsh always know how to throw a party, and Thanksgiving Eve will be no exception. Gather a group and hop around the bars to enjoy discounted drinks while catching up with old friends. Look out for two-for-one bombs, $3 domestics, and $3 Twisted Teas at Bandito’s, as well as $3 domestics, $5 bombs, and $5 Tito’s drinks at Wayward and The Curious Oyster.

Thanksgiving Eve 80’s Bash with The New Romance at The Coop: If you haven’t yet checked out this rebranded Timonium restaurant and live music venue—in the former home of Poulet across the street from the Maryland State Fairgrounds—Dranksgiving is the perfect opportunity. Rub elbows with old friends and neighbors while belting to live ’80s covers performed by The New Romance from 8-11 p.m. The Coop offers American bistro fare, along with classic cocktails, beers, and plenty of wines by the glass.

Thanksgiving Eve at CrossbarIf you’re planning to ring in the biggest drinking night of the year from Federal Hill, head to this beloved biergarten for a $30 all-you-can-drink deal on domestic beers and rail drinks from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Other specials will include $5 bombs and Rumple Minze shots all night long.

Drinksgiving & Wing Wednesday at Don’t Know Tavern: The friendly bartenders at this Federal Hill corner fixture will be slinging $5 drafts while Steve Herrera takes the stage in honor of the holiday. Plus, in keeping with the bar’s regularly scheduled specials, you can chow down on more than 20 different flavors of wings for $6 per pound all night long.

Britney Blackout at The Manor: If you’re getting together with friends who you used to belt “…Baby One More Time” with in the carpool van, this dance party celebrating Britney Spears’ recent freedom is a can’t-miss. Dress to the nines and book it to The Manor in Mt. Vernon for a drag performance and all-out dance party featuring Baby, Brooklyn Heights, Washington Heights, and Siren Kelly, with live sets by DJ Sidekick and Sweet Spot.

Drink Specials at Mother’s Federal Hill GrilleThis decades-old mainstay—which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in December—is an integral part of any Federal Hill bar crawl. If your night-before-Thanksgiving crew makes its way to South Charles Street, be sure to stop by Mother’s to enjoy live music spun by DJ Kissick starting at 9 p.m. Drink specials on deck include $4.50 Southern Tier IPAs, $5 16-oz. vodka drinks, $7 22-oz. Miller Lites, and $10 peanut butter cup boilermakers made with Yuengling Hershey’s chocolate porter and a shot of Screwball whiskey.

Al Walsh and Three Flights Up at Mt. Washington Tavern: In true Smaltimore fashion, you’re bound to run into someone you know at this Mt. Washington haunt on Thanksgiving Eve. Head to the tavern to enjoy live music from five-piece band Al Walsh and Three Flights Up while sipping $4.40 select drafts and $6 house wines from 4-7 p.m. After 8 p.m., Maryland beers will be half price. 

Wu Givings Eve at The Point in Fells: In honor of seeing old friends, this neighborhood go-to—which operates two locations in Fells Point and Towson—is setting the mood with live DJs spinning throwback tunes all night long. At the Fells Point flagship, get down to the the Sounds of Baltimore DJ Collective spinning ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s hip-hop and R&B hits (we can only expect that the Wu-Tang Clan will be a prominent part of the playlist) from 9:30 p.m. to close. And, from 9-11 p.m., you can enjoy two-for-one draft cocktails, Three Olives bombs, and Modelo beers. At The Point in Towson, take advantage of food and drink specials while jamming to familiar favorites from decades past spun by DJ AL.

Friendsgiving at The Sidebar: This one is technically post-Thanksgiving, but it’s still a great opportunity to reconnect with friends who are in town for the holiday. The iconic downtown punk and indie club is hosting an all-ages karaoke get-together with no cover on Saturday, November 27. Don’t forget to bring your vax card, a mask, and a potluck dish.

Thanksgiving Eve Party with Sly 45 at Walker’s Tap & Table: Plan to spend your evening enjoying the rock-and-roll stylings of Sly 45 at this Howard County neighborhood spot. No local homecoming party would be complete without fresh-squeezed Orange Crushes, and the bar team at Walker’s will be slinging them for $4 from 8-11 p.m. Guests can also sip half-priced sangria ($6.50), $3 domestic bottles, and $4 imports, as well as enjoy $2 off signature cocktails, beer, and wine. Plus, the kitchen will be open late if you want to stick around for the entire performance.

HotMess at Waterfront Hotel: It wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving Eve in Fells Point without a round at this fan-favorite bar and live music venue. Swing by to catch local duo HotMess make their long-awaited return to the WTF stage after more than a year.

The Boozehounds Annual Thanksgiving Eve Party at The White Oak Tavern: After taking a year off due to COVID last year, this annual pre-Thanksgiving bash, hosted by local rockers The Boozehounds, is back in full swing. Head The White Oak Tavern in Ellicott City to grab a beer and rock out with the band—and maybe even catch a few special guest performers.

All-Night Happy Hour at XS Baltimore: This recently reopened bar and sushi lounge in Mt. Vernon is getting in on the fun with all-night happy hour deals. Stop by to enjoy $1 hot sake, $5 drafts, $5 house wines, $2-off house cocktails, and $2-off maki rolls.