3801 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
While there’s been some confusion due to a change in ownership and a move, there’s one thing Philadelphians can count on: piano bars are bigger than ever in the city. The man that started it all, Jolly Weldon, has taken his show to University City, where it now offers a full kitchen in addition to the live piano music and interactive entertainment visitors have come to expect. This is a grown-up sing-along party where participation is not only encouraged, it’s demanded. Bring a date or grab a group of your favorite girls; Jolly’s is a feel-good place where you’ll love belting out the classics just as much as newer radio hits. Loosen up with one of the many beers and cocktails offered. Jolly Weldon himself recommends the Engagement Ring, a concoction that combines gin, champagne, sour mix and a twist of lime.
1420 Locust St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
The counterpart to Jolly’s (it was actually originally named Jolly’s, but that’s a complicated story), Duel is your dueling piano bar in the Rittenhouse/Academy of the Arts area. All the while taking requests from the audience, these piano players entertain with everything from Sinatra to Lady Gaga. If you’re picky with your music, you’ll want to bring small bills. Audience members can switch the song being played by offering a tip along with their request. Songs accompanied by higher tips get played first. This is a lively, interactive experience where the drinks just add to the fun. In the spirit of the birthplace of dueling piano bars, New Orleans, Justin Kelly of Duel recommends the Duel Hurricane. A concoction of passion fruit juice, tropical juice and Cruzan rums and then topped with Myers and dark rum, this is a drink that just might lower your inhibitions enough that you’ll be singing up there on stage with the players. And for $10, you’ll get this tasty drink served in a souvenir 22-oz. signature glass.
625-27 S. 6th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
The Barrel House is known for craft beer. With 24 taps, a beer engine, and a promise to always have at least three brews that are made in Pennsylvania, it’s easy to see why. So when a place that’s famous for beer (and the occasional wine or whiskey) offers a cocktail, it needs to be something special. Enter the St. Gerfashioned ($10). Scott Layne is the mastermind behind this combination of muddled cynar and orange mixed with rye and St. Germaine and served over ice. Bartender Adam Kanter said it’s one of his favorite drinks to suggest to patrons who can’t quite decide what to order. Now that Kanter, the former owner of the now-closed Rum Bar, has joined the crew at the Barrel House, here’s hoping there are plenty more unique cocktails to come.
24 S. 2th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
The neon blue lights of the Bleu Martini are unmistakable when walking the most popular strip in Olde City. Nightly music and a lively atmosphere make it a favorite among the younger party clientele. And with over 30 martinis, it’s commonly listed as one of the best martini bars in the city. The namesake drink, the Bleu Martini, is an obvious choice when ordering, but Indra Bumstetsteg suggests the Love Potion #9 for something a bit more exotic. The drink will set a visitor back $10, but with blueberry vodka, liquors infused with raspberry and melon juice, plus pineapple juice and lemon-lime soda, it’s not your typical martini.
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1708 Lombard St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
Classic American dishes get updated with European and Asian twists at Brick American Eatery. Menu favorites include the duck nachos, skate wing and lamb burger, but the creativity isn’t limited to the food. Be sure to check out the drink menu with cocktails like the $10 Brick Prick Martini, a mixture of vodka and gherkin pickle juice. Bartender Kerry Weldon’s favorite drink is Sweet Dalia, a nod to the piano bar Dalia’s located on the second floor of Brick. This concoction combines Seagram’s 7, absinthe, bitters and sweet vermouth.
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Michelle Hein is a copy editor for a women’s fashion company in Bucks County by day and a self-proclaimed food and drink fanatic by night and weekend. She enjoys attending wine classes, trying new recipes in the kitchen and going to old favorites and new restaurants alike in the Bucks County and Philadelphia area. If the writing gig doesn’t pan out, she constantly dreams of owning her own bakery…perhaps connected to the restaurant/bar that her lawyer boyfriend would love to open. Examiner