TOP FIVE- COCKTAIL BARS IN PHILADELPHIA, PA

Just got back from Philadelphia, and they are doing it right.  Being from Pittsburgh, people who are super into sports, generally knock our neighbor Philly.  I am a clean slate, because I don’t give a lick about any teams.  So I was able to enjoy every drop Philadelphia has got.   I was recently there with my hubby, and we rocked the town.  Every night we hit at least 4-5 bars doing a food and drink crawl.  It was extremely hard to choose where to go.  I did I ton of research before we went, and knew that I wanted to at least hit up Franklin Mortgage, and Hop Sing.  I had a few other names, but not knowing the layout of Philly, I was not sure how many we could get to visit.  As we went along the way, we got suggestions from various bartenders where they would drink themselves.  It turns out, you can visit quite a bit of these places in a short time frame.

Being from Pittsburgh, walking here is a bit of a challenge to say the least, plus transportation is tough.   Uber is my preferred method of not using my car, and then walking from there.  In Philly, you can walk EVERYWHERE.   It felt so good to be able to explore without the use of a car.  We went NSEW every day and evening.  Hitting up all the places I didn’t even think we could.

That being said…   This is my list of my favorites we visited.  Below them are some honorable mentions.  NOW, if you are reading this and saying, Ugh… I can’t believe she picked that one!  Keep in mind, this is MY TOP 5!  Not my bottom 5, and they are just one woman’s opinion of her experience there.  I based my ratings on atmosphere, wait time, how nice people were, and most importantly- DRINKS.   These are not shot and a beer places, but more a crafted cocktail, and somewhat speakeasy like venues.  There were places we did not get to visit that we will have to hit next time-  Vedge, Hop Sing, Zahav, Southwark, Townsend…  We did not get a chance to take in these places, but next time…. Oh next time and it will come soon!!!

1.  EMMANUELLE-

This place was on my top list to visit from the moment I started doing research.   Reviews were high, and it was located somewhat off the beaten path. (which is preferred)  I didn’t think we were going to make it there, but it turns out, our friend Rachel we were visiting had it on her list of places she wanted to take us.  Located at 1052 N Hancock St, it is open 6pm to 2 am.  We arrived on a Friday evening, early by some standards around 9:30pm.  It doesn’t look like much from the outside, just a warehouse or garage possibly.  We had no trouble getting in, and when I walked through the door, I knew I would love it there.  Dark, Candle lit, a small intimate bar, and various tables surrounding the place.  We sat at our table, and quickly realized we felt as though we were the only people in the place, nobody could hear our conversation.  It felt… private.  The drink menu was promptly brought over, and it was ridiculous.  I wanted a copy to take home.  Loved the layout of it, and the suggestions that followed by our server Christian Gaal, who we found out later is Co- Operator of the place.  He was spot on, friendly and inviting.  Many of the ingredients I didn’t know, and was pleasantly surprised that they provided an index in the back for almost every ingredient in all their drinks (I have never seen that before, and it was part of the reason they boosted to number 1).  We probably ordered about 2-3 drinks a piece, each one being just as good as the last. The staff was so nice as well. When we left we were offered a Fernet Branca shot by Christian and Phoebe Esmon, who was working the bar, and who was also very generous with suggestions on where to visit next on our trip.  It was a great evening, and we found ourselves wanting to come back for more the next evening, but we had more spots to hit.  If you find yourself looking for that perfect spot.  This is the place!  http://drinkemmanuelle.com/

2.  VERNICK-

I know I am going to catch shit for this one, because Vernick is more of a dining experience, but I also loved the cocktail list they had.  For me this place was a complete package.  Food and drink combined in a nice tied up bow.  We took a seat at the bar, and immediately canceled our dinner reservations we had for the evening at a different establishment.  We just sat and experienced a course by course starter with each drink we enjoyed, and those drinks made an impression.  I wanted something light to start, and they suggested the field gun envy-cognac, rooibos tea, lemon, curacao & bubbles.   A perfect balance.  It was so good.  J.B. Bernstein was at the bar that evening, I asked him to make me something bitter, and he made up “The Bitter Marta” which was so perfect for me, that I had him write down the recipe.  Flavors of chocolate, grapefruit, bitters, and who knows what else.  It was divine.  I know that their drink list isn’t the biggest, but what they served was top notch.  Go early and have a sit in, which is what we did, we found it hard to go anywhere else that evening.  Order Everything, food included.  http://vernickphilly.com/

3.  1. TIPPLING PLACE-

Located near Rittenhouse Square between 20th and Chestnut, 1 Tippling Place is open from 5pm to 2am Tues to Sunday.  The atmosphere walking in is what hit me first for this location.  It looked like we had stumbled into a mad hatters tea party.  A narrow room with bright couches and chairs to sit semi privately with you and your friends.  Unlike all the other places we had visited which were dark, (Ranstead being the darkest) 1 Tippling Place turns it around and brings the light.  Pastels on the walls wind you back to the modest bar.  A man named Miles was working that evening, and the cocktails were delish.  He ended up giving us a boomerang (still not sure what that is)to take to Ranstad Room.  Very nice place, and lovely cocktails.  Bonus was a charger station for phones, since mine was almost dead, it was clutch.  I would like to return to sit on the couches next time and have a chat, heard their wine list is top notch as well.

4. THE FRANKLIN MORTGAGE & INVESTMENT CO.-

There is a trick to getting into this bar when there is a large line.  Make friends with the people around you.  There was only Phil and I waiting, and we met three lovely ladies on a road trip, and then behind us a couple from Washington D.C.  Each time they asked how many people we had in our party, we said two.  After about a 25 minute wait,  the next time the man came around and said he need 7, I shouted “Yeap!  We have 7!”, and then turned to the two groups and said…. we are now all friends.  (It was the only way were getting in that early)  They cheered, and we all shared a table downstairs for a couple hours. Staff was very friendly and accommodating.  The drinks were very good here, and very strong.  I know this place is top of the list for most people, but this time around, I do not feel that I got the best experience, because I believe sitting at the bar at a place such as this is the way to go, and we were seated at a table.  Which was fine, but the servers weren’t really in tune with what you were in the mood for, not like speaking to the makers of the drinks themselves.  That being said, if you want a good cocktail late night, this is a great suggestion.   You just may be waiting in line a bit.  Don’t forget to make friends with the people around you, it may just get you inside a bit faster.  http://thefranklinbar.com/

5.  THE GOOD KING TAVERN-

This place was suggested to us by at least 5 different bartenders around town.  The main reason we went there is because it was open early.  IT looked like an unassuming bar that was on our way to our dinner out at Marrakesh (so good).  We stopped in for a pre dinner cocktail(s), and chatted up the bartender. Who, while I didn’t catch his name, was very knowledgeable about the area, and also about drinks.  They made us some spectacular drinks, and then we took a look at the menu, and were torn that we had other reservations.  We will have to return to dine there, it looked amazing, alas all we had was cocktails.  I really liked the feel of this place, laid back tavern.  Not pretentious at all, just a local bar that does it right.  The kind of place I could see myself visiting as a local all the time, while they slowly take my paychecks bit by bit, and me loving every sip, bite and moment there.  Check it out next time you are around town.  http://thegoodkingtavern.com/

 

Places that were so close to top 5 in no particular order-

The Trestle Inn-  The Trestle reminds me of an old 1960’s dive bar, which is  what it was if I am correct.  I will give it high notes for having the best music out of all of the bars we visited.  I am sad I didn’t arrive here for the dance parties, it reminds me of a Titletown Soul and Funk Party in Pittsburgh.  Old videos are played on the walls, there is a Go Go Dancer rocking her thing in the corner.  Our friend Katie Loeb works here some nights, and she makes one hell of a drink.  I will say it had a definite hipster vibe to it, but the music was oh so good.  http://www.thetrestleinn.com/

 Ranstead Room-  We got into Ranstead mainly because we had a boomerang, otherwise, they said they were full (which when we got inside, they weren’t)  Ranstead gets on this list for their drinks, and also for their lovely pictures on the walls. :)  But, the place is so dark you can’t even see what you are drinking, that being said, the drinks were decent, but could have used a bit more light.  The service that evening was also not on point.

That’s it!  Keep in mind, these are the places we visited.  There are a TON of bars and food spaces in Philadelphia that we haven’t covered.  I think I am in love with it there for a great quick weekend visit.  Just go on a diet for a week or two before you plan on taking the trip!!!

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