Food & Drink

The 9 Best Bars for Winter Drinking in Philadelphia

Published On 01/04/2016 Published On 01/04/2016

The time has come to hibernate, and where better to hole up than in the warmest, most welcoming bars of Philadelphia? From fireside chairs to live music to spiked cocktails with a kick, here are the city’s best bars to hole up in this winter.

Devil’s Den

Best fireplace

Devil's Den

Address and Info

South Philly

When it comes to getting warm by the fire this winter, Philly has many bars to choose from. In a pinch, though, Devil’s Den is the place to go. The cozy South Philly spot prides itself not only on a beer list of 200 bottles and its comfort food menu, but on its homey fireplaces as well -- so much so that it has an annual fireplace lighting ceremony.

Honorable mentions: McGillin’s Olde Ale House, The Plough & the Stars

Cavanaugh's Headhouse

Best to watch winter sports

Cavanaugh’s Headhouse

Address and Info

Society Hill

Though there is no shortage of bars that will be showing the big game in Philly, there’s always the one recurring issue of seating. Most sports bars fill up fast, but Cavanaugh’s Headhouse does a great job providing ample space. On its two floors, find yourself gawking at one of its many TVs, whether you find yourself nestled at the bar or if you scored a table.

Honorable mentions: Bru, Milkboy, King’s Oak

Barcade

Best bars with games

Barcade

Address and Info

Fishtown

This one is a no-brainer. How can you deny this adults-only arcade (with booze)? The rotating tap list will only help you hone your skills at Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man, Star Wars arcade, and the dozens of other games that will distract you from how cold it is outside.

Honorable mentions: Sto’s Bar, The Bar(n), Buffalo Billiards, McGlinchey’s Bar

World Cafe Live

Best live entertainment

World Cafe Live

Address and Info

University City

The music venue at XPN’s Philly headquarters has two stages: one on entry level, surrounded by a bar and overlooking Walnut St, and a bigger stage one floor below where you’re in for an intimate performance no matter where you stand. Plus, it’s totally feasible to order tacos at the bar while you’re being entertained.

Honorable mention: Johnny Brenda’s

Best seasonal beer list

The Cambridge

Address and Info

Center City

Winter is a time for dark beers. Philly’s finest beer bars know this, and the Cambridge has one of the most tantalizing on-tap lists (and “up next” lists) for drinking the best beers any time of year. The dark interior decor and twinkly lights, however, make the beer menu taste best during winter time.

Honorable mentions: Lucky’s Last Chance, Brauhaus Schmitz

Frankford Hall

Best outdoor fireplaces

Frankford Hall

Address and Info

Fishtown

If you’re in denial about the dropping temperatures (or are relishing these increasingly common mid-winter heat waves), take solace outdoors by one of Frankford Hall’s many fire pits while sipping oversized beers (another method for staying warm) at a picnic table.

Honorable mention: City Tap House

Coziest atmosphere

Monk’s Cafe

Address and Info

Rittenhouse

Yes, it feels like every nook and cranny of this Rittenhouse staple is cramped on a Friday or Saturday night. If you happen to go when it’s not so bustling, it’s much easier to enjoy the cozy backroom bar, the dimly lit seating areas near the front bar, and the timeless combination of rare beer, and eight kinds of mussels and frites.

Honorable mention: Standard Tap, Fitler Dining Room, Fiume, Good Dog

Blue Cross RiverRink

Best Hot Drink

The Lodge at RiverRink Winterfest

Address and Info

Penn's Landing

Maple Bourbon Hot Cider at The Lodge at RiverRink Winterfest
Winterfest at Penn’s Landing fulfills most winter wonderland dreams -- ice skating, fire pits, occasional live music, comfy chairs -- but perhaps most wonderful is its extensive menu of spiked hot drinks. A dash of maple bourbon in the hot cider will warm up your insides -- just don’t drink and skate.
Honorable mention: Hot Toddy at The Ranstead Room

Lacroiz at The Rittenhouse

Best winter cocktail

The Falling Angel at The Library Bar

Address and Info

Center City West

A blend of cardamom, vodka, and nectar mingles to create this perfectly festive winter infusion. One glass of this (or any of the Library Bar’s other killer cocktails), plus the welcoming seating by the bar’s adjacent fireplace, are the makings for the perfect winter night.

Honorable mention: Fish House Punch from 1 Tippling Place, Frost Martini from Harvest

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Marielle Mondon is a freelance writer from Philly who believes a hot toddy is the only cure for the common cold. See her Internet life on Twitter and Instagram @MarielleMondon.

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1. Devil's Den 1148 S 11th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (South Philadelphia)

Delicious pub eats and an extensive craft beer selection are the order of the day at this South Philly drinkery.

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3. The Barcade 1114 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA (Nolibs)

This bar/arcade is perfect for a throw-back night because of all the classic video games. They've got $7 shots of Jim Beam and craft beer $6 or less, plus 25 cent “vintage” arcade games during happy hour too.

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4. World Cafe Live 3025 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (West Phillyu City)

A 3-level concert venue where musicians and music-lovers alike can come for performances, food, and happy-hours. Check 'em out and see what's playing right NOW.

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5. The Cambridge 1508 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19146 (South Street)

Proving that following a legend won't always end in someone saying "Sorry sir, Meatloaf cleared out the continental breakfast" is Cambridge, which replaces the old grimy music venue Tritone with a new South St gastro from the crew behind Hawthorne's.

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6. Frankford Hall 1210 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125 (Fishtown)

One of the only year-round beer gardens, Frankford Hall is also the most traditional German biergarten. The brick-walled Fishtown spot has a menu that features German classics like spätzle, schnitzel, and six different types of sausages. Additionally, the draft beer list has over 10 different German beer selections, all available in large, liter steins. It's especially popular in the summer months, when an opening at one of the picnic tables is harder to find than a parking spot in Fairmount.

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7. Monk's Cafe 264 S 16th St, Philadelphia, PA 19102 (Rittenhouse)

Monk's Cafe is more of a dank beer pub than any kind of cafe, but it's become a Philadelphia institution thanks to its staggering bottled beer list (there are more than 300 local and global brews to choose from). Yes, the place is dark. Yes, it's cramped. But the draft selection of Belgian suds makes Monk's a national leader in the category: owner Tom Peters was actually knighted in Belgium to honor his dedication. Drinkers can pick up a "beer bible" from the bar, which could pass for a novela under the dim electric candles scattered throughout. Pub fare flows from the kitchen, and while the burger won't disappoint and you can order grilled salmon if that's your thing, the true must-eat dish is the pot of mussels, flavored with sour beer-sautéed jalapeños, peppers, and onions.

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8. The Lodge at Blue Cross Riverrink 121 N Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19106 (Old City)

Ice skating is fun and all, but when you head to Penn’s Landing your top priority should be to find a spot by the fire to enjoy your craft beer and Garces eats. The Lodge at Penn’s Landing has all the makings for fireside magic, no figure eights required.

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9. Library Bar 210 W Rittenhouse Sq, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (Rittenhouse)

The Library Bar is a two-room cocktail palace, cozily tucked into the ground floor of the Rittenhouse Hotel. With huge volumes of literature on display, and including a tome-like, 17 page long drink menu, make yourself comfortable in the spacious cocktail haven with a meticulously crafted Old Fashioned or seasonal option like the El Presidente with bacardi rum, red wine, vermouth, and grenadine.

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