Philadelphia has long been known for its gastropubs and dive bars — most of which serve up the city’s iconic Philly cheesesteak to pair with the beer culture that reigns in this city. However, a newer, trendy cocktail culture is starting to make a breakthrough as local bartenders are mixing up traditional cocktails reminiscent of Prohibition days. As such, the city’s twenty- and thirty-somethings are flocking to area cocktail bars to get a taste of Old Philly. Menus of Manhattan and Old Fashioned cocktails mixed with newer concoctions hand-crafted by the mixologists behind the bars entertain guests’ palettes. These five cocktail bars offer the best glimpse into a classic Philadelphia.
Photo via their official FB page.
Whiskey is definitely on the menu at Village Whiskey, with a catalog of more than 80 whiskeys for customers to peruse. Guests can enjoy their whiskey on the rocks or neat, alongside the restaurant’s famous burgers — one of which is served with maple bourbon glazed cipollini, bleu cheese, applewood bacon and foie gras. Other savory snacks include duck fat fries. Indulge by ordering the fries topped with short rib and cheddar cheese for a truly delicious treat.
Seafood, steaks and cocktails are the three key menu items that keep customers coming back to Ocean Prime because living up to its "prime" is the restaurant’s main goal. The cucumber gimlet made with Bombay Sapphire Gin, fresh cucumber and hand-squeezed lime is one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails. Served with oysters on the half shell, this drink can be the perfect way to start to a meal. Follow it up with one of the house steaks prepared using homemade seasoning and then broiled at 1,200 degrees. Customers can choose from a variety of "accessories" — béarnaise sauce, green peppercorn sauce and black truffle butter, to name a few — to top off the meal.
Photo via their official FB page.
The Southern-inspired bourbon house and juke joint that make up The Twisted Tail serve up Southern comfort at its finest. Customers come for the American whiskey paired with foods such as the crawfish mac ‘n’ cheese or country barbecue spare ribs. The charcoal-grilled asparagus and Berkshire pork belly are other highlights on the menu. The restaurant mimics that of a traditional Juke Joint — a venue where people could eat, drink and listen to music — by featuring live blues music regularly.
The bartenders at Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. have turned the act of making cocktails into an art form. The cocktail bar is named for the country’s largest alcohol ring during Prohibition. Max "Boo Boo" Hoff and his buddies would sell about 10,000 gallons of alcohol a day via truck, train and bus, with a larger operation than even Al Capone. When Prohibition ended, the art of bartending came back with full force, which is what this bar celebrates. Order the bar’s Stage Whisperer, for instance, is a cocktail consisting of old Tom Gin, Maraschino liqueur, Fernet Branca, Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters, served on a rock. It will take you back to the good ol’ days.
With the most diverse collection of European craft beer in Philly, The Farmers’ Cabinet is already known in the beer world. But this restaurant is just as noteworthy for its classic cocktails. The Golden Calf, served straight up, features vodka, Velvet Falernum, Thatcher’s Blood orange, Aperol and lemon juice. Guests can drink and share a charcuterie platter at one of the restaurant’s long communal tables — a perfect place to make new friends and meet up with old ones. The bar is lit up entirely with candles and lanterns, while the wait staff is dressed like they came straight from the Prohibition era. The tavern is also known for its live jazz playing almost every day of the week.