Spirt of Philadelphia First Friday 2017 Leaderboard

Drink Up: 7 Best Whiskey Bars in Philadelphia

Drink Up: 7 Best Whiskey Bars in Philadelphia

Single barrel. Aged Cask. Kentucky straight. Whiskey (or whisky, as its traditionally written in Scotland and Canada) has a language all its own, and the nuanced lexicon can be daunting for a typical tippler to interpret. Essentially, whiskey is just a spirit distilled from a mash of grains like barley, rye or corn. Variations in color, taste and quality derive from a number of factors, including aging, type of grain and water source. The recent rise in domestic microdistilling — look out for Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye — and the availability of a prodigious array of small-batch whiskies is encouraging booze hounds to explore a new lingo of liquor, and Philadelphia is an ideal spot to whet that interest.       

This month’s Philadelphia Whiskey Festival and opening of Stephen Starr and Joe Carroll’s bourbon-and-barbecue emporium Fette Sau — with a rumoured 80-bottle North American whiskey selection — prompts the question: which bars hold Philly’s best collections of brown? Read on for seven places where the “water of life” flows freely.

Cooperage Wine & Whiskey Bar: Tucked into The Curtis Center just north of Washington Square, Cooperage stocks more than 75 varieties of both American and imported whiskies, from spicy Thomas Handy Sazerac Kentucky rye to the choice Macallan Fine Oak, a 15-year-old single-malt Speyside Scotch. What’s more, the weekday happy hour offers a choice of five whiskies at just $5 per pour. Go for an Old Overholt Rye with a few ice cubes (601 Walnut St.; 215-226-2667).

Khyber Pass Pub: A dimly lit Old City den, the Khyber was once known for its rowdy live-music scene. Nowadays, a well-curated jukebox pumps indie rock throughout the bar, but its the extensive selection of spirits and beer that keep patrons loyal. A chalkboard list of ever-rotating drafts may be the top draw, but another menu reveals a nice roundup of Irish whisky and a stellar list of 40 American varietals, including Benjamin Prichard’s Single Malt, a spicy medium bodied sipper, and Hirsch Small Batch, which has hints of vanilla and oak (56 S. 2nd St.; 215-238-5888).

Time: Three-in-one Midtown Village venue Time stocks an astounding array of bottles, with more than 100 varieties of bourbon, rye, scotch and Irish whiskey. Perch beneath the ornate chandelier in the dining room or duck into a cozy booth in the whiskey bar to sample from the interesting collection — start with a buttery Blanton's Straight bourbon and work up to a smoky Glenlivet Nadurra Speyside Scotch (1315 Sansom St.; 215-985-4800).

The Trestle Inn: This recently revamped cocktail bar on the outskirts of Chinatown may appear to be in ruins from its exterior, but venture inside and be rewarded with groovy lighting, go-go dancers and a long list of whiskies, 65 in all. Pay particular attention to the Kentucky bourbon assortment with such standouts as Black Maple Hill and Old Grand Dad 114 (339 N. 11th St.; 267-239-0290).

The Twisted Tail: Head to this two-story South Street “juke joint” for its regularly scheduled live blues, rustic-wood furnishings and 55 types of domestic whiskey, from Kentucky straight Bulleit bourbon to “twisted styles” like Philadelphia Distilling’s Shine corn whiskey. Opt for the whiskey flight to compare single barrel with small batch styles (509 S. 2nd St.; 215-558-2471).

Village Whiskey: Philadelphia’s “Iron Chef” Jose Garces runs away with the prize for best selection. His jewel-box Rittenhouse Square saloon carries a seriously remarkable 177 options of bourbon, rye, Scotch, blended and Irish whiskies, and offers several whiskey flights for those who can’t bear to chose just one dram. If the list seems overwhelming, sidle up to the bar to request advice from a member of the knowledgeable staff, who might point towards a piney Laphroaig Triple Wood single-malt Scotch or a finely aged Rittenhouse 23-year-old rye (18 S. 20th St.; 215-665-1088).

Stateside: As the name suggests, Stateside is devoted to all things American. It follows, then, that the hip East Passyunk Avenue bar’s substantial whiskey and spirits selection consists of a 58 American bourbons, ryes and whiskeys, including the Wisconsin-made Death’s Door White Whisky, the complex Hudson Four Grain bourbon, and four bottlings of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, 12 to 23 years old. (1536 East Passyunk Ave; 215-551-2500).

Photos by Kristina Jenkins and Danya Henninger


Tags: Bar Crawl, Spirits
Recent Articles
spacer

Feedback

How are we doing? Tell us what you like or don't like and how we can improve. We would love to hear your thoughts!

*Name:
*E-mail:
*Suggestions:
 
Maison 208, With a Retractable Roof, is Now Open in Midtown Village

Maison 208, With a Retractable Roof, is Now Open in Midtown Village

Maison 208, a two-story, open-air concept from Sylva Senat, is now open in Midtown Village at 208 S. 13th Stre...read more ›

by Drink Philly Jun 21, 2017
Best Bars For Outdoor Drinking in Philadelphia, 2017

Best Bars For Outdoor Drinking in Philadelphia, 2017

Whether it's to enjoy the first warm breezes of spring or the summer's sunshine, Philadelphia is full of great places to drink in the great outdoors....read more ›

by Drink Philly Apr 11, 2017
SPONSORED
Skybrunch Rectanlge Ad
This Theatre Company Will Perform 'Twelfth Night' While Drinking Beer, July 8

This Theatre Company Will Perform 'Twelfth Night' While Drinking Beer, July 8

The Manayunk Theatre Company is bringing back its popular ShakesBEER show, where inebriated performers will pu...read more ›

by Drink Philly Jun 21, 2017
Hendricks Gin is Hosting a Cocktail Competition, Class & Lounge For the Manayunk Arts Festival, June 22, 24 & 25

Hendricks Gin is Hosting a Cocktail Competition, Class & Lounge For the Manayunk Arts Festival, June 22, 24 & 25

Hendricks Gin is partnering with the Manayunk Arts Festival to host a cocktail competition, class, and lounge ...read more ›

by Drink Philly Jun 21, 2017
Parks on Tap Launches Free Weekly Music Series on Sundays on MLK Drive

Parks on Tap Launches Free Weekly Music Series on Sundays on MLK Drive

Parks on Tap is hosting a free weekly music series, the Twilight Music Festival, on MLK Jr. Drive near the Dra...read more ›

by Drink Philly Jun 21, 2017
A Bar in Brooklyn Now Has a Beer ATM

A Bar in Brooklyn Now Has a Beer ATM

It was inevitable - people love beer, and people love convenience, especially in New York City. So Randolph Beer in Brooklyn has designed a convenient...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Jun 20, 2017
Neil DeGrasse Tyson is Getting His Own Beer

Neil DeGrasse Tyson is Getting His Own Beer

Astrophysicist, writer, and television personality Neil DeGrasse Tyson now has his very own beer, courtesy of Asheville Brewing Company....read more ›

by Drink Philly Jun 14, 2017
Behind the Bar: Jenee Craver of ITV

Behind the Bar: Jenee Craver of ITV

For this installment of Behind the Bar, we spoke to up-and-coming bartender Jenee Craver of ITV, Nick Elmi's more casual, Laurel-adjacent outpost....read more ›

by Drink Philly Jun 14, 2017
Where to #DrinkChenin in Philadelphia on Saturday, June 17

Where to #DrinkChenin in Philadelphia on Saturday, June 17

Saturday, June 17 is officially #DrinkCheninDay, and several cities around the country are participating by hosting events that celebrate this particu...read more ›

by Drink Philly Jun 14, 2017
SPONSORED
View all Articles

Sign up to get weekly drinking news, bar reviews, events and more sent directly to your inbox!

Close