Created with quality ingredients, precisely mixed and possessing a touch of the unexpected (Jalapeno? Egg white? Bacon?), drinking a well-crafted cocktail can be like sipping art in a glass. Here are your best bets for inspired, stand-out alcoholic concoctions in Philadelphia. –Chelsea Karnash
The newest venture from the peeps behind Farmers’ Cabinet (below), The Boilermaker is a gorgeous spot with a vibe that somehow blends Goth and hillbilly—sort of like a classier Fangtasia, sans Pam and the rest of the vamps. And while the specialty here is the boilermaker—essentially a beer and a shot—I recommend you try one of the Cobblers, a refreshing, über-boozy cocktail that combines fresh muddled berries, sugar and high quality liquor. And bonus points for the extra-fat straw—a thoughtful touch, because you’ll want to suck up all those yummy (drunken!) berries at the bottom of the glass.
Farmers’ Cab has already made a few lists on our site, but that’s because the drinks are just SO. GOOD. (And did I mention how pretty the place is?! Gramophones! Velvet settees! Mason jar lights, people—mason jar lights!!) Try one of the beer-inspired creations, like the Flemish Red (a mix of Cherry Heering, Combier Rouge, Olorozo Sherry, Banyuls Vinegar, Sparkling Wine, Sarasola Cider), reminiscent of a Flemish sour brew, for something completely different. Or, release your inner drunken pirate with a glass of West Indies Punch (seriously, this stuff is strong!), made with rum, green tea, guava and other exotic-sounding ingredients. There are drinks made from cardamom, pepper, apricot, basil, and more, and FC has the friendliest (mustached) servers in town, meaning there will only be a few tears shed when you get that bill at the end of the night.
What can I say about this place that hasn’t already been said? It’s made so many best-of cocktail and bar lists it would be a travesty not to include it on this one. Essentially, if you like a stiff, no frills drink that’s been hand-crafted by a professional, knowledgeable mixologist—and not some college kid looking for hookups and beer money—head to the Franklin. Done.
(Only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights after 5 p.m. until July)
Run by meticulous mystery man “Lee,” Hop Sing is everything you heard it would be: glamorous (red walls and candelabras galore), hard-to-find (no sign) and top shelf (1000-plus bottles of super high-quality booze). At just a few weeks into the soft-open, the drink list is still evolving, but the bartenders were allegedly trained by cocktail legend Toby Maloney, so anything you order will be good—really good. Stash that cell phone on silent (no, cell phone calls are not allowed at the bar), get your shoes shined (yes, literally—sneakers are prohibited, too) and nurse a drink infused with the likes of dried roses, chamomile flowers, or house-squeezed grape juice. “Midnight in Paris?” Pshaw. Midnight in Philadelphia—at Hop Sing—is way better.
Fairmount’s London Grill really doesn’t get enough cred for its selection of unique cocktails. Perhaps that’s because it’s a small, unassuming spot in a quieter ‘hood. Or maybe it’s just because the place has been open for more than a hot minute—unlike, admittedly, many of the other bars on this list. Regardless, LG offers some great libations on the “Drink Me” menu, including a yummy selection of beer-and-liquor combos like the Garden Party (Stoli strawberry, Cointreau and draught wheat beer) or the Chocolate Cherry Love Child (Yards Love Stout, 3 Olives Cherry Vodka and chocolate bitters). And don’t forget to try a seasonal drink or one of the specialty house-infused cocktails– like the Rosalita, a blend of hibiscus-rose tequila, Aperol and Carpano Antica. Because as those jolly old Brits would say, they’re bloody good.
This old-timey bar just off South Street has garnered a decent amount of buzz since opening a few years ago, and for good reason. Settle into your chair on the cutesy outdoor courtyard (okay, alley) and sip on a vintage-style drink with a twist. Because while SouthWark’s classics are great, it’s the perfectly mixed, one-of-a-kind cocktails–like the Aviation (with gin, crème de violette, lemon and maraschino)—that are great.
Oh, and the food’s pretty awesome, too.