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Hop Sing Laundromat in Chinatown
Robert Neroni

15 Intriguing Philly Cocktail Bars

Where to drink when you’re craving something creative

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Hop Sing Laundromat in Chinatown
| Robert Neroni

Philadelphia hasn’t always been a cocktail town, thanks to unusually strict alcohol laws (some of which are loosening up). But that doesn’t mean those in search of noteworthy mixed drinks are out of luck. The city’s cocktail scene spans speakeasy-style bars, hit restaurants paying as much attention to the drinks as the food, and even a few dives that can shake up something well worth going out of the way for. Here’s a map of 15 places that do cocktails better than anyone else.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Friday Saturday Sunday

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261 S 21st St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 546-4232
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One of the top food and drink Instagrammers in town, Paul MacDonald mixes up tempting cocktails poured into elegant glassware from Friday Saturday Sunday’s street-level bar (the dining room is upstairs). MacDonald regularly rotates the cocktail list and earned attention for using the math-based Fibonacci sequence to perfectly balance drinks.

2. 1 Tippling Place

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2006 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 665-0456
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Rittenhouse’s 1 Tippling Place has a parlor vibe going on, with a mix of cushiony chairs and mismatched tables filling the narrow space. Settle in and order a flawless old fashioned.

3. The Ranstead Room

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2013 Ranstead St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 563-3330
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Stephen Starr’s red-walled speakeasy-esque bar tucked into the alley street (Ranstead) behind his Mexican eatery El Rey is lit almost solely by candlelight. The sexy space is a perfect spot for a fancy cocktail and the bartenders here are top-notch.

4. V Street

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126 S 19th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 278-7943
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V Street draws its food and drink inspiration from ingredients found in far-flung places and seamlessly blends them together into excellent concoctions. The hip Rittenhouse bar, from the team behind Vedge, also happens to be vegan.

5. The Franklin

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112 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(267) 467-3277
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The subterranean Franklin Bar, a.k.a. Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., doesn’t let in too many people at once, so patrons never feel overcrowded while sipping intricate cocktails. If there’s a seat open at the small bar, snag it and watch the expert bartenders in action.

The Franklin / Facebook

6. a.bar

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135 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 825-7030
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With a location right on Rittenhouse Square, the people-watching doesn’t get any better than at a.bar, from hotel chain AKA and Ellen Yin’s High Street Hospitality Group. But there’s more reason to come here than the sunny corner spot: The drinks are inventive and well made.

Neal Santos

7. Hop Sing Laundromat

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1029 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Hop Sing Laundromat’s air of mystery enhances its allure — and the outstanding drinks don’t hurt, either. The hidden Chinatown cocktail bar features a strict set of rules enforced by owner/proprietor Lê. Dressing inappropriately, taking photos inside, or doing something else to break one of them is to risk being added to the bar’s banned list. And no one wants to be banned from a beautiful bar with top-shelf liquor, fresh juices squeezed to order, and some of the best recipes around.

hop sing Robert Neroni
1615 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(267) 858-0669
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Top Chef winner Nick Elmi opened ITV next door to his upscale Laurel, giving those who aren’t up for the Laurel splurge a chance to sip creative cocktails and sample his cooking via an array of small plates. ITV stands for “In the Valley”— it’s a translation of “Passyunk,” the street and neighborhood where the bar is located.

Justin Blasi

9. The Good King Tavern

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614 S 7th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 625-3700
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The Good King is a laid-back French bistro with a drinks list worth paying attention to. It covers the usuals — sazeracs, martinis, and so on — just as well as any other cocktail bar, but riffing off the classics is where the bartenders here truly excel. 

10. Southwark Restaurant

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701 S 4th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(267) 930-8538
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With a menu full of interesting cocktails that make use of amaro, scotch, and uncommon spirits like South African Caperitif, Queen Village’s Southwark is undeniably a bar for grown ups. Stop by for a balanced cocktail before dinner, or settle in for a night of creative cocktails.

11. The Olde Bar

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125 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 253-3777
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Jose Garces’ Olde Bar in Old City pays tribute to the address’s former life as the legendary Bookbinder’s by keeping fish house punch on the menu (three types of rum, brandy, peach cordial, and lemon). The long cocktail list includes other classics, from an old fashioned to a tiki-tastic jungle bird, alongside newer concoctions.

a pink cocktail with ice and a berry garnish Olde Bar [official photo]

12. Fiume

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2918, 229 S 45th St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 352-3591

The tiny dive bar upstairs from Ethiopian restaurant Abyssinia doesn’t look like much, with its ripped seats and fridge case. But the beer menu at Fiume is impressive, especially given the bar’s size, and the whiskey selection is a contender for best in the city (and fairly priced, too). Owner/bartender Kevin Holland’s cocktails — made with whiskey or other spirits — are spectacular.

Fiume / Facebook

13. Nunu

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1414 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125
(215) 278-2804
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The latest from the team behind Cheu Noodle Bar has plenty going for it, with its stylish interior, side patio, long sake list, and highballs on draft. The Japan-inspired bar creatively employs Asian ingredients and liquors, including shochu (a Japanese distilled beverage), matcha, and pickled ginger.

Nunu / Facebook

14. R&D

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1206 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125
(215) 515-3452
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Root — which shares owners with Philly’s current restaurant crush Suraya — shifted gears from full-service eatery to an experimental cocktail bar called R&D. The cocktail list rotates: Go now for tropical offerings.

Stephen Recchia

15. Martha

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2113 E York St
Philadelphia, PA 19125
(215) 867-8881
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Named a James Beard Award semifinalist in 2017 for its bar program, Kensington’s industrial-chic cocktail spot Martha is big on bold, but balanced, flavors. Bartender and “fermentation director” Mike Landers infuses his drinks with acidity, spice, bitterness, and funk in the form of ingredients like kombucha, jalapeño, and salted orange.

interior of a bar with tables and round lights Martha [official]

1. Friday Saturday Sunday

261 S 21st St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

One of the top food and drink Instagrammers in town, Paul MacDonald mixes up tempting cocktails poured into elegant glassware from Friday Saturday Sunday’s street-level bar (the dining room is upstairs). MacDonald regularly rotates the cocktail list and earned attention for using the math-based Fibonacci sequence to perfectly balance drinks.

261 S 21st St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

2. 1 Tippling Place

2006 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Rittenhouse’s 1 Tippling Place has a parlor vibe going on, with a mix of cushiony chairs and mismatched tables filling the narrow space. Settle in and order a flawless old fashioned.

2006 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

3. The Ranstead Room

2013 Ranstead St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Stephen Starr’s red-walled speakeasy-esque bar tucked into the alley street (Ranstead) behind his Mexican eatery El Rey is lit almost solely by candlelight. The sexy space is a perfect spot for a fancy cocktail and the bartenders here are top-notch.

2013 Ranstead St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

4. V Street

126 S 19th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

V Street draws its food and drink inspiration from ingredients found in far-flung places and seamlessly blends them together into excellent concoctions. The hip Rittenhouse bar, from the team behind Vedge, also happens to be vegan.

126 S 19th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

5. The Franklin

112 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
The Franklin / Facebook

The subterranean Franklin Bar, a.k.a. Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., doesn’t let in too many people at once, so patrons never feel overcrowded while sipping intricate cocktails. If there’s a seat open at the small bar, snag it and watch the expert bartenders in action.

112 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

6. a.bar

135 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Neal Santos

With a location right on Rittenhouse Square, the people-watching doesn’t get any better than at a.bar, from hotel chain AKA and Ellen Yin’s High Street Hospitality Group. But there’s more reason to come here than the sunny corner spot: The drinks are inventive and well made.

135 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

7. Hop Sing Laundromat

1029 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
hop sing Robert Neroni

Hop Sing Laundromat’s air of mystery enhances its allure — and the outstanding drinks don’t hurt, either. The hidden Chinatown cocktail bar features a strict set of rules enforced by owner/proprietor Lê. Dressing inappropriately, taking photos inside, or doing something else to break one of them is to risk being added to the bar’s banned list. And no one wants to be banned from a beautiful bar with top-shelf liquor, fresh juices squeezed to order, and some of the best recipes around.

1029 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

8. ITV

1615 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19148
Justin Blasi

Top Chef winner Nick Elmi opened ITV next door to his upscale Laurel, giving those who aren’t up for the Laurel splurge a chance to sip creative cocktails and sample his cooking via an array of small plates. ITV stands for “In the Valley”— it’s a translation of “Passyunk,” the street and neighborhood where the bar is located.

1615 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19148

9. The Good King Tavern

614 S 7th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

The Good King is a laid-back French bistro with a drinks list worth paying attention to. It covers the usuals — sazeracs, martinis, and so on — just as well as any other cocktail bar, but riffing off the classics is where the bartenders here truly excel. 

614 S 7th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

10. Southwark Restaurant

701 S 4th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

With a menu full of interesting cocktails that make use of amaro, scotch, and uncommon spirits like South African Caperitif, Queen Village’s Southwark is undeniably a bar for grown ups. Stop by for a balanced cocktail before dinner, or settle in for a night of creative cocktails.

701 S 4th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

11. The Olde Bar

125 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
a pink cocktail with ice and a berry garnish Olde Bar [official photo]

Jose Garces’ Olde Bar in Old City pays tribute to the address’s former life as the legendary Bookbinder’s by keeping fish house punch on the menu (three types of rum, brandy, peach cordial, and lemon). The long cocktail list includes other classics, from an old fashioned to a tiki-tastic jungle bird, alongside newer concoctions.

125 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

12. Fiume

2918, 229 S 45th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Fiume / Facebook

The tiny dive bar upstairs from Ethiopian restaurant Abyssinia doesn’t look like much, with its ripped seats and fridge case. But the beer menu at Fiume is impressive, especially given the bar’s size, and the whiskey selection is a contender for best in the city (and fairly priced, too). Owner/bartender Kevin Holland’s cocktails — made with whiskey or other spirits — are spectacular.

2918, 229 S 45th St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

13. Nunu

1414 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125
Nunu / Facebook

The latest from the team behind Cheu Noodle Bar has plenty going for it, with its stylish interior, side patio, long sake list, and highballs on draft. The Japan-inspired bar creatively employs Asian ingredients and liquors, including shochu (a Japanese distilled beverage), matcha, and pickled ginger.

1414 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125

14. R&D

1206 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125
Stephen Recchia

Root — which shares owners with Philly’s current restaurant crush Suraya — shifted gears from full-service eatery to an experimental cocktail bar called R&D. The cocktail list rotates: Go now for tropical offerings.

1206 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125

15. Martha

2113 E York St, Philadelphia, PA 19125
interior of a bar with tables and round lights Martha [official]

Named a James Beard Award semifinalist in 2017 for its bar program, Kensington’s industrial-chic cocktail spot Martha is big on bold, but balanced, flavors. Bartender and “fermentation director” Mike Landers infuses his drinks with acidity, spice, bitterness, and funk in the form of ingredients like kombucha, jalapeño, and salted orange.

2113 E York St
Philadelphia, PA 19125

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