Order a blue crab margarita on the Baltimore waterfront to support Maryland watermen, or make your own at home. Handout photo.

Chesapeake Cocktail: Support MD Watermen with Blue Crab Margarita

If someone told us that showing support for Chesapeake Bay watermen was as simple as ordering a summer cocktail, we’d belly right up to the bar.

For the past several years, Phillips Seafood in Baltimore has offered such a cocktail. You can order it at the Inner Harbor to help raise funds for the Maryland Watermen’s Association. If you won’t be near the Phillips flagship restaurant anytime soon, you can recreate the drink at home, too.

The Blue Crab Margarita is a hot seller at the restaurant and at the adjacent Phillips Crab Deck, open seasonally now through Labor Day.

For every Blue Crab Margarita sold, a dollar is donated to the Maryland Watermen’s Association. Phillips Seafood says it’s their way of giving back to the local seafood industry, in which the Phillips family traces their roots going back to 1914.

“I come from a family of Maryland watermen and have worked closely with Maryland watermen all my life to supply seafood for our family’s Hoopers Island processing plant and restaurants,” said Steve Phillips. “Without them, our family business would not have grown to where it is today. We’re proud to stand behind the Maryland Watermen’s Association in their efforts.”

The Blue Crab Margarita recipe appears in the Phillips Seafood 100th Anniversary Cookbook. It’s a collection of Phillips’ 100 favorite recipes from the past 100 years, including Shirley Phillips’ original family recipes, chefs’ dishes and recipes from the seafood company’s annual recipe contests.

The cookbook itself benefits the watermen’s association. For every cookbook sold, $5 goes toward protecting the heritage and future of commercial watermen in Maryland.

The Maryland Watermen’s Association, formed in 1973, works to ensure the future of independent watermen and seafood businesses. They are very visible in Annapolis at General Assembly time and use their strong voice with state and federal regulators, as well as environmental and business organizations.

Watermen’s Association President Robert T. Brown tells Chesapeake Bay Magazine that the group relies on funding to make their case in the legislature, which is to conserve the fishery but also to keep the industry alive.

“Crabbing is not only part of our heritage. Our livelihood is catching crabs. It’s so important for so many people,” Brown says.

The partnership has been a resounding success. Each year, Phillips sets a goal to raise at least $10,000 for Maryland watermen, and each year they have reached or exceeded that goal, with the only exception being the year 2020, when the pandemic put a damper on restaurant dining. In all, they’ve donated $70,212 through 2023.

Phillips’ signature drink, the Blue Crab Margarita, is one of their most popular drinks ordered. You can also can whip one up at home with little more than tequila, blue curacao & sour mix (see recipe above).

But if you’re looking for the chance to kick back without having to shake the cocktail yourself, order one from the comfort of the Phillips Crab Deck.