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The Best Cocktail Bars in Philadelphia

by Drink Philly on Dec 13, 2017 in Roundups


Photo by Drink Philly
 
Here it is — the definitive list of Philadelphia's best cocktail bars. Keep reading for a comprehensive deep dive into this city's best cocktail-focused bars and restaurants, and keep an eye on this article, which will be updated as Philadelphia's bar and restaurant landscape changes and evolves.
 
Updated in December 2019.
 

 
 
The standard for all Philadelphia distilleries, Philadelphia Distilling’s gorgeous tasting room is home to exceptional cocktails using the distillery’s homegrown spirits and local herbs, fruits, and even vegetables. (25 E Allen St.; 215-671-0346)
*Photo by Drink Philly
 

 
One of Philadelphia’s oldest restaurants reopened in 2016 with a brand new redesign, a bold new cocktail program from Paul MacDonald, and an incredible dinner service, bringing it right back into the city’s top tier of bars. (261 S 21st St;  215-546-4232)
*Photo by Drink Philly
 

 

 
Queen Village’s premier cocktail bar, which was a pioneer in Philadelphia’s craft cocktail boom, is as good as ever, thanks to an excellent staff and cocktails that run the gamut from classic to experimental. (701 S 4th St,; 267-930-8538)
*Photo via Southwark
 

 
 
The bar formerly known as root restaurant & wine bar is now one of Fishtown's most inventive cocktail bars, changing their menu concept every couple of months. Past themes include tiki, 1950s cocktails, and twists on classics — you'll have to stop in for yourself to see what they come up with next. (1206 Frankford Ave.; 215-515-3452)
*Photo by Drink Philly
 

 
The former home of Bookbinder’s has been transformed into a classic cocktail bar by Jose Garces, which still serves up Bookbinder’s-style dishes like snapper soup and, of course, plenty of oysters. (125 Walnut St.; 215-253-3777)
Photo via The Olde Bar
 

 
When you step into 1 Tippling Place, you’ll feel like you’re in a particularly cozy living room, albeit one with excellent classic and reimagined cocktails. (2006 Chestnut St.; 215-665-0456)
*Photo by Drink Philly
 

For a more casual feel, you can stop into a.bar for a cocktail and a dozen oysters, and when you’re ready for dinner, walk across the hall to a.kitchen to pair your second cocktail with their full dinner menu. (135 S 18th St,; 215-825-7030)
*Photo by Drink Philly
 

 
 
Chinatown’s most secretive speakeasy is worth jumping through a few hoops. Wait outside the wrought-iron gate with your ID ready and cash in hand, and you’ll be whisked inside, informed of the house rules, and led to a dark, romantic table. Be sure to keep your phone in your pocket, and don’t miss the bar adorned with nickels. (1029 Race St.)
*Photo by Drink Philly
 

Suraya
This Lebanese spot in Fishtown, owned by the team behind R&D and Pizzeria Beddia, is one of the hottest spots (and hottest reservations) in the city; avoid the crowds by grabbing a spot at their bar and trying one of their cocktails made with unique ingredients like arak, a Middle Eastern Spirit. (1528 Frankford Ave.; 215-302-1900)
*Photo by Drink Philly


Condesa & El Techo
Philly's Pod Hotel, located on 19th Street in Rittenhouse Square, is home to two equally great Mexican bar concepts. Start downstairs for dinner and drinks at Condesa, which stocks a huge variety of tequila and mezcal alongside interesting wines. Then head to the rooftop bar, El Techo, which serves up mezcal Negronis and is open all year long thanks to a clever retractable roof. (1830 Ludlow St.; 267-930-5600)
*Photo by Drink Philly


 
The Rittenhouse Hotel has always been one of the city’s most luxurious hotels, but don’t overlook either of its bars. Head to Bar 210, a part of Lacroix, to sip a creative seasonal cocktail while overlooking the park, or get cozy in one of the Library Bar’s big leather chairs with a stiff whiskey drink to match. (210 W Rittenhouse Square; 215-546-9000)
*Photo by Drink Philly
 

Vernick Fish
Greg Vernick really knows how to craft a great cocktail bar, which should be obvious considering that both of his eponymous restaurants are on this list. His second effort, Vernick Fish, is located on the ground floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, and the inventive cocktails pair perfectly with Vernick's ambitious, fresh menu. (1 N 19th St.; 215-419-5000)
*Photo by Taylor Chlebina


 
Tod Wentz’s flagship, which moved to Rittenhouse Square in 2019, is known for its creative cocktails and its late night industry crowd — and ultimately, the best thing about Townsend is that it’s a neighborhood spot that happens to have some of the best cocktails and French food in town. (2121 Walnut St.; 267-639-3203)
Photo via Drink Philly
 

 
 
Hit up an ATM (it's cash only), grab a friend with a membership card (if you don't have one, since they're quite hard to come by), and be sure to follow every rule at South Philly's Palizzi Social Club, which pairs housemade pasta and incredible Italian cocktails with a welcoming yet exclusive atmosphere. (1408 S 12th St.)
*Photo by Drink Philly
 

  


This Starr speakeasy is tucked behind El Rey, identified only by a sign with two red, crossed Rs hanging on Ranstead Street. If you can get a seat, opt for a dark corner booth and order the Bartender’s Choice. (2013 Ranstead St.; 215-563-3330)
*Photo via Neal Santos
 


 
Attico
The Cambria Hotel's rooftop bar has become Philadelphia's newest industry hangout, thanks to its innovative cocktails, fun late night atmosphere, and year-round skyline views. (219 S Broad St.; 267-536-5725)
*Photo by Drink Philly 
 

 
This spot is certainly one of Philadelphia’s strangest bars — hidden away on the second floor of an Ethiopian restaurant in West Philly, Fiume offers a full and diverse cocktail list alongside a vast array of spirits in a relaxed, low-key atmosphere. (229 S 45th St.; 215-387-2424)
*Photo via Fiume Facebook page
 

Rouge
Rittenhouse Square's Rouge has been a parkside staple for decades, but in 2019, it got a bit of a facelift, creating a sunnier, welcoming atmosphere inside stocked with cocktails crafted by Lê of Hop Sing Laundromat. One of Philadelphia's classics just got even better — and don't worry, its famous burger is still perfect, too. (205 S 18th St.; 215-732-6622)
*Photo by Drink Philly


 
If you can’t get into Laurel (and you probably can’t), you’ll enjoy its casual counterpart right next door just as much, thanks to its clever bar snacks, inventive drinks, and sleek marble bar with gold fixtures. (1615 E Passyunk Ave; 267-858-0669)
*Photo by Drink Philly
 

 
After honing his skills in several of Philadelphia’s best kitchens, Greg Vernick opened up his eponymous Rittenhouse Square restaurant to huge acclaim, but don’t overlook the bar — each and every cocktail will pair perfectly with one of their toasts. (2031 Walnut St.; 267-639-6644)
*Photo via Clay Williams
 

 
With a classic cocktail bar downstairs and a mezcaleria, Encima, upstairs, The Franklin contains multitudes, but after all this time, it still serves up some of the most inventive craft cocktails in the city. (112 S 18th St,; 267-467-3277)
*Photo by Neal Santos
 

 
Michael Solomonov’s Israeli restaurant is famously one of the very best in Philadelphia, and it’s always packed — but if you can get yourself a seat at the bar, you can test drive one of their seasonal cocktails or their eternally popular Lemonanna alongside your salatim and hummus. (237 St James Pl.; 215-625-8800)
*Photo via Zahav
 



Good King Tavern

Visit Paris without leaving Queen Village when you step into Good King Tavern, which boasts an impressive menu of classic cocktails alongside an excellent wine selection. Don't miss their new upstairs bar, La Caveau, which is a dark, intimate spot perfect for after-dinner drinks. (614 S 7th St.; 215-625-3700)
*Photo by Caroline Russock


 
Located directly above Oyster House, Mission’s margaritas are made with everything from freshly squeezed lime juice to green juice to tamarind. (1516 Sansom St.; 215-383-1200)
*Photo by Drink Philly
 

 
A Philadelphia classic, Oyster House is best known for its extensive raw bar, but don’t overlook its excellent cocktail list, especially their incredible gin selection (best paired with their house made vermouth). (1516 Sansom St,; 215-567-7683)
*Photo by Jason Varney
 

 
Nicholas Elmi’s bistro restaurant, located in the heart of Old City, offers up a selection of classic cocktails on a menu that denotes where, when, and by whom the cocktail was created, along with great bar snacks like pork-stuffed fried olives and one of the best charcuterie programs in the entire city. (52 S 2nd St,; 267-606-6313)
*Photo by Drink Philly
 

 
Michael Schulson’s dark, sexy izakaya has several excellent cocktails, but don’t miss out on its namesake drink, a bourbon and rye Manhattan variation made with smoke staves and a fancy tableside presentation. (120 S 13th St.; 215-631-3868)
*Photo by Drink Philly
 

 
Tod Wentz’s Spanish-inspired tapas bar boasts cocktails inspired by Madrid, Barcelona and beyond alongside traditional small plates like boquerones and patatas bravas. (1121 Walnut St.; 267-324-3014)
*Photo via Punch Media
 

 
Jose Garces’ shrine to all things whiskey has one of the best old fashioneds in town, an outstanding burger to pair with it, and a whiskey shelf beyond your wildest dreams. (118 S 20th St.; 215-665-1088)
*Photo via Village Whiskey
 

 
This sleek Midtown Village bar offers excellent cocktails made with local, fresh ingredients alongside creative vegan fare. (131 S 13th St.; 267-758-5372)
*Photo by Drink Philly
 

 
Philadelphia’s premier vegan restaurant has plenty to offer besides its outstanding plant-based dishes — don’t miss out on its cocktail list, which utilizes many of the same fruits and vegetables as the dinner menu. (1221 Locust St.; 215-320-7500)
*Photo via Vedge
 

 
Once you step into the Logan, you can visit either The Commons, the approachable lobby bar complete with bar snacks and a classic cocktail list, or Urban Farmer, the upscale steakhouse with smoked Manhattans and a full dinner menu. Either way, you’ll find your new favorite cocktail. (1850 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy; 215-963-2788)
*Photo by Drink Philly
 

 
Stephen Starr’s Rittenhouse steakhouse is famous for its $100 cheesesteak, but don’t overlook its cocktail menu, especially its signature Manhattan. (237 S 18th St.; 215-732-7560)
*Photo via Barlcay Prime
 

 
Stop into Michael Solomonov’s Jewish diaspora for simple yet creative cocktails utilizing amaro, sherry, and fresh ingredients. (1623 Sansom St.; 215-867-0088)
*Photo via Abe Fisher
 

 
Bar Hygge is best known for its in-house brewery, but it also features in-house draft cocktails alongside classics like Sazeracs and Old Fashioneds. (1720 Fairmount Ave; 215-765-2274)
*Photo by Drink Philly
 

Prohibition Taproom
Spring Garden's favorite beer bar has been a neighborhood haunt for those in the know for years, but recently, they've seriously upgraded their cocktail program. With a menu that offers classics as well as reimagined twists, there's something for every kind of drinker. (501 N 13th St.; 215-238-1818)
*Photo by Drink Philly


Irwin's
Bok Bar is only open during the summertime, but the Bok Building's comfy, stylish rooftop bar, Irwin's, is open all year round, serving up great Middle Eastern-inspired fare and creative cocktails. (800 Mifflin St.; 215-693-6206)
*Photo by Drink Philly


Forsythia
At Christopher Kearse's second restaurant venture, Old City's Forsythia, the creative, delicious cocktails pay homage to the floral name of the restaurant, using only the freshest ingredients. (233 Chestnut St.; 215-644-9395)
*Photo by Drink Philly


Fond
An East Passyunk staple, Fond offers up a bar that's both dependable and exciting, featuring a bar menu that pairs perfectly with the restaurant's innovative cuisine. (1537 S 11th St.; 215-551-5000)
*Photo by Drink Philly


 
Marcie Turney & Valerie Safran’s most recent addition is this retro American diner, which features a local whiskey named after Marcie Turney’s grandfather (Bud’s Best Bourbon), Mad Men-inspired cocktails, and seasonal frosé. (1234 Locust St.; 215-546-2220)
*Photo via Bud & Marilyn's
 

 
The Spanish verb “volvér” means “to return,” which is exactly what you’ll do once you visit Jose Garces’ fine dining restaurant in the Kimmel Center. Though the restaurant is known for its high-end prixe fix, the bar is open to anyone and serves some of the most creative (and well-named) cocktails around. If you stay for dinner, you'll be able to enjoy a rotating menu of different concepts and guest chefs, a redesign that kicked off in 2019. (300 S Broad St.; 215-670-2302)
*Photo by Drink Philly

 


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