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Inside Center City’s Curiously Named New Cocktail Lounge

The sleek spot opens on Chestnut Street this week

dark, purple-lit bar with flower curtain hanging above Society Hill Films

Center City gets a swank new cocktail lounge when Leda and the Swan opens Friday, January 31, at 1224 Chestnut Street with drinks named for mythological figures, flickering candles, and a velvet-curtained entrance. Owners Derek Gibbons and Tim Lu say it’s not a club, but there is live music and late-night DJs.

The name refers to a story in Greek mythology where the god Zeus turns into a swan and definitely has sex with, probably rapes, Spartan queen Leda, who then maybe hatches some kids. She appears often in ancient and Italian Renaissance-era art. “Leda and the Swan is inspired by a Greek myth which embodies values of art, myth, and love. We want people to be intrigued by the name and the concept, and to be culturally curious,” Gibbons says via press release, seeming to lean toward the Zeus seduces Leda version of the story. (W.B. Yeats saw it differently in his famed poem.) He and Lu are also hoping patrons “live in the moment” and keep their phones in their pockets while at Leda.

The drinks list includes nine cocktails designed for the bar by beverage director Ryan Felton and head bartender Zach Kessler, plus four plays on an old fashioned, dessert cocktails, and large format bottled cocktails. For example: There’s the Leeds Devil with rye whiskey, Cynar, Averna, Luxardo, Grand Marnier and Madagascar vanilla, and the Slow the Sun with white rum, sage, Campari, lemon, white vermouth, strawberry, and egg.

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings look for live music, followed by a DJ later in the night on Friday and Saturday.

In March, Leda’s mezzanine will open.

As Glu Hospitality, Gibbons and Lu also run Vesper, at 223 S. Sydenham Street in Center City, and Vesper Day Club and Germantown Beer Garden, both in Northern Liberties. They took over those businesses; Leda is the first venue they’re opening. Up next for Glu is Anejo at the Piazza in Northern Liberties.

Here’s the main lounge area with velvet banquettes and mini-tables:

dark bar with velvet banquettes, exposed brick walls, and globe lights Society Hill Films
dark bar with velvet banquettes, exposed brick walls, and globe lights Society Hill Films

More of that idea:

Society Hill Films

The Cursed Creator (Plata Tequila, Cynar, Suze, lime, pomegranate) looks pretty sippable:

red cocktail Society Hills Films

And the Return to Olympus (rye, rose syrup, lemon, egg white, Vranac wine) is just pretty:

Society Hills Films