The Franklin Bar in Rittenhouse, known for its subterranean speakeasy vibe, is transforming the more casual but similarly artful upstairs into something entirely different: a tiki bar. The change is already underway, with the thatch in place on the bar. Next week the bamboo wall mats, bamboo poles, and other tropically inspired decor and lighting go up, and over the summer a brand-new back bar, keeping with the tiki theme, will be installed.
“We are planning on going way, way overboard,” says The Franklin’s general manager, Jason Elliott. “We’re bringing the showmanship along with great tiki drinks, working with elaborate garnishes and dry ice to create a true tiki experience like Philly has never seen.”
Elliott, who comes to Philly by way of New York and Belize, says over the nine months he’s been GM he’s been “scouring Philly and the rest of the country” for bartenders and other staff “that can take the Upstairs Bar and The Franklin to a new level.” Nik Shummer-Decker, already on the team, and Brian Maxwell, a “veteran tiki man” joining from Ohio, are working on the upstairs transformation now. Ian Adamczyk, currently at Chicago tiki bar Three Dots and a Dash, will start at The Franklin at the end of June.
Along with an extensive rum list that’s still in the works, the drink menu will include a mix of classic tiki cocktails and new concoctions. The Zombie is rising from the dead, in its 1934 and 1950 versions, while the Port Light is a 1961 cocktail from the Kahiki Supper Club in Columbus Ohio, Elliott says. Activated charcoal makes the Black Pearl daiquiri black. And of course, there’s a bowl: The Franklin’s is a Bali Hai, with rosé instead of sparkling white wine. Bring friends—it’s enough for eight people.
The new menu should be available starting Friday, May 26.
“I’m determined, with the revamping of the bars, to get Philly as a whole back on the national stage when it comes to cocktails,” Elliott says. “Philly is finally getting the attention it deserves in the culinary world, and we’re bringing that same attention to the cocktail world.”