Food & Drink

Every Cocktail Bar That's Mixing Philly's Best, Most Potent Drinks

Published On 07/12/2016 Published On 07/12/2016

Hop Sing Laundromat

Chinatown

It’s not easy to find your way to Hop Sing if you're a newcomer, and no matter how regular you are, it’s not easy to get seated right away either. Regardless of the lines winding down the street, you’ll find Hop Sing lives up to its hype and the air of mystery around it -- you can't use cell phones or cameras inside, and don’t think that rule won’t be enforced if someone catches you. As Draconian as it may feel at first, it makes a lot more sense when you've heard about the fiery, enigmatic owner, Lê, who likes to say he's North Korea's spokesman. And you won't even care that your phone is stuffed away thanks to literally hundreds of liquor options, from Johnny Drum Private Stock bourbons to 15-year-aged El Dorado.

The Ranstead Room

Rittenhouse

It’s hard to believe Stephen Starr’s taco wonderland that is El Rey could get even better, but turns out, if you walk through the kitchen, you'll find yourself in the secret-ish Ranstead Room, where you can still order bites from El Rey alongside craft cocktails. The menu updates seasonally, but no matter when you head over, you're guaranteed an evening of prohibition grandeur in this luxe back room.

Kyle Born/Charlie was a sinner.

Charlie was a sinner.

Midtown Village

Who would have thought a romantic small plate vegan restaurant would pack such a punch when it comes to its cocktail program? Take a seat on one of the tufted benches by candlelit tables and try the always mysterious Charlie’s Punch. You’ll have a lot of options when it comes to cleverly named concoctions, too: the Women in Love (with Bluecoat and jasmine chamomile) and the Johnny Walker-based City on Fire, to name a mere couple.

The Rittenhouse

Library Bar

Rittenhouse

The Rittenhouse Hotel is home to the cozy and very scholarly Library Bar where you’ll find some of the city’s best bartenders. Tucked on the lower floor, complete with stacked bookshelves, it feels like a true reprieve from the city, especially with an Old Fashioned in hand. Seasonal options like the El Presidente (Bacardi rum, red wine, vermouth, grenadine) are your reminders of the outside world.

Brick and Mortar

Brick and Mortar

Callowhill

Beside ongoing movie nights and a satisfying menu of elevated classic American plates, the cocktail menu at BAM would be easy to dismiss out of hand -- but that would be a mistake. Summer sangria and Moscow Mule specials are an obvious go-to, but don’t skip the try-your-own-adventure cocktail menu, where you simply fill in your choice of spirit into the bar’s expertly predetermined formulas. The Back Stabbin’ Betty, for example, includes aperitif wine, lemon cordial, pink peppercorn tincture, and the spirit of your choice.

Rex 1516

Rex 1516

Graduate Hospital

This is the perfect spot when you’re craving a casual seat outside while sipping a drink that tastes anything but casual. With ongoing whiskey specials and a killer burger (and a home run mac & cheese), you get the best of both the food and drink worlds. The sparkling Violet Hour is extra charming with infusions of crème de violette, and the Prescription Julep gets an extra kick with cognac and angostura.

Bardot Cafe

Bardot Cafe

Northern Liberties

Dark, intimate nightcaps have a home on Poplar St, where Bardot Cafe churns out creative, alternative cocktails, from the Lola (vodka, cherry, and rhubarb) to the Bicycle Thief (Bluecoat, St.-Germain, and egg white). Don’t forget to go for brunch, too, when your favorite morning-ish drinks go for $5 Sundays.

Franklin Bar

The Franklin Bar

Rittenhouse

The bar formerly known as the Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. got a makeover last year, renaming itself and retinkering its menu to present more casual options while still keeping the vibe of an exclusive, old-school speakeasy. Though don't let 'casual' lead you astray -- the drinks are still thoughtfully complex. Chances are you’ll walk right by the first time you visit; the only signals you've arrived will be a well-dressed host and, especially if you’re going during the weekend, a line out the door. Inside, you’ll find dark burgundy leather seating and wood furnishings, along with charmingly knowledgeable and entertaining bartenders.

Adam Schmidt/1 Tippling Place

1 Tippling Place

Rittenhouse

Decked out in eclectic furniture under dim lighting, 1 Tippling Place has vested and bowtied bartenders there to guide your night of cocktail sipping. Get settled on the tufted sofa and peek the menu of beautifully made seasonal and year-round cocktails that you can begin to decipher by your liquor of choice. You can’t go wrong with a classic French 75 or Old Fashioned here, but take advantage of the more experimental cocktails, like the Deep Blue Sea (vodka, Lillet, creme Yvette) or the Chet Baker (rum, Carpano, honey).

Sign up here for our daily Philly email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Hop Sing Laundromat 1029 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (Chinatown)

Stop into this semi-hidden haven in Chinatown for Prohibition-inspired cocktails, accented with a speakeasy vibe. This much-hyped, semi-mysterious spot-- patrons line up down the block for a chance to sample enigmatic owner Lê's signature libations, and you can't use cell phones or cameras inside the bar (don’t think that rule won’t be enforced if someone catches you)-- offers literally hundreds of liquor options, from Johnny Drum Private Stock bourbons to 15-year aged El Dorado.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Ranstead Room 2013 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (Center City West)

A classically-styled bar from the mind of El Rey taco mastermind Stephen Starr, the semi-cloaked Ranstead Room off Rittenhouse Square features a retro interior decked out with red leather booths and snakeskin stools, gold tile arches, and a red/black tiger-striped carpet. This luxe back bar offers fittingly high-end boozy libations. Surprise yourself and order "the bartenders choice" or go with one of the bespoke cocktails of the moment from the ever-changing menu.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Charlie was a sinner. 131 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (Midtown Village)

Charlie certainly was a sinner, and a glutenous one at that. Despite a mostly vegan menu, Charlie's knocks it out of the park with decadent small plates and seemingly whimsical cocktails that hit you fast. Dark wood-paneled walls and plush velvet booths create a warm, intimate interior that's perfect for a date night. Take a seat at one of the candlelit tables and indulge in the always mysterious Charlie's Punch.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. 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.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. Brick & Mortar 315 N 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (Center City West)

A congenial gastropub in Callowhil, Brick and Mortar offers upscale takes on familiar plates in an industrial-chic setting. Brunch and happy hour are the main draws here, with a nice variety of boozy breakfast libations, benedicts and burgers, and discounted bar bites post-4pm. Drinks wise, Summer sangria and the moscow mule specials are an obvious go-to, but don’t skip the try-your-own-adventure cocktail menu.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. Rex 1516 1516 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (G Ho)

From the crew behind Jet Wine Bar, Rex 1516 is a breezy 35-seater that pairs an interior reminiscent of a derelict mansion (wrought iron chandeliers, antique mirrors, distressed woodwork) with a Mobile-bred, chef-prepped menu that covers all the Deep South culinary bases. With ongoing whiskey specials and a killer burger (and a home run mac n’ cheese), you get both killer food and drink under one roof.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. Bardot 447 Poplar St, Philadelphia, PA 19123 (Nolibs)

Francophiles flock to this chic cafe in the Northern Liberties that pairs bistro bites with craft cocktails and a popular Sunday brunch. Elegant and creative libations like the Purple Haze with blueberries, gin, lemon and an egg white foam are tasty and Insta-worthy, and savory plates like pork belly benedict won't disappoint for brunch.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. The Franklin Bar 112 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (Rittenhouse)

An unmarked entrance will lead you to this speakeasy-like neighborhood cocktail haven that may or may not be operated out of a shuttered, art-deco adorned savings bank. Formerly known as the Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co, this bar's rebranded itself as the Franklin Bar but still offers the thoughtful, boozy libations you know and love. Order bespoke cocktails, punch bowls, or a "Greatest Hits" tasting flight.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. 1 Tippling Place 2006 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (Rittenhouse)

An eclectically decorated cocktail lounge decked out with a hodge-podge of vintage furniture, make yourself comfortable on a comfy couch inside these spacious digs and order up from a list of classic drinks. You can’t go wrong with the enduring French 75 or Old Fashioned here, but take advantage of the more experimental cocktails, like the Deep Blue Sea (vodka, lillet, creme Yvette) or the Chet Baker (rum, carpano, honey).

Clickbait

close

Learn More