Feeling fancy? Here are the best places to get a cocktail in Philly
Let's start with the obvious: Philly is a beer city, and I, for the most part, am a beer drinker. Every once in a while, though, I try to class up my act and order something not in a pint glass. Especially if that something has gin in it. Luckily, despite its well-known place in the craft beer scene, Philly also makes a mean drink.
I'm kind of picky about my cocktails. Because I don't drink them that often, I won't just order them anywhere. Below are my three favorite places to get a cocktail in Philly (plus an honorable mention for days when I'm willing to start drinking early).
Hop Sing Laundromat
1029 Race St
Maybe you've heard of Hop Sing Laundromat (named one of the greatest cocktail bars in the world by Condé Nast), but you've probably never stumbled across it. This discreet bar is difficult to find and has a notoriously strict dress code, but it's worth the effort. With a mind-blowing selection of liquors and an extensive cocktail menu categorized by your favorite spirit, it's a cocktail lover's dream come true. I've drank my way through the gin list, but I always come back to the Nevermore, made with gin, Vietnamese coffee, Patron Citrónge and cream. Fun fact: my boyfriend Nick and I went here on our first official date and we're still together three years later, which is probably irrelevant but hey, who knows. Just please, no photos...unless you want to get kicked out and blacklisted.
25 E Allen St
When I heard that a gin distillery was opening up in my area, I thought that God had finally answered my prayers. Maybe I'm biased, but I think that Philadelphia Distilling's Bluecoat Gin is, hands down, the best gin I've ever had. I own a bottle and seek it out at other bars. The best place to get it, however, is at the distillery, where they're crafting the finest cocktails outside of Hop Sing (an honor I don't bestow lightly). I typically go for the gin drinks, but they also make a killer absinthe, which is great in their Death in the Afternoon. If you have the time, try to take a tour, which takes you around the distillery, gives you a complimentary cocktail and lets you sample all five of their spirits.
48 S 2nd St
This tiny blink-and-you'll-miss-it bar in Old City gets overlooked (seriously, I've watched more than one friend who was supposed to meet me for a drink wander right by it), but that makes finding it even more magical. It's got the ambiance of a bar you'd see in an old movie: dim lighting, the occasional live jazz and friendly bartenders who still dress up for work. Most importantly, they're serving up some serious cocktails. I like to start with their dark and stormy, made with ginger beer from nearby Franklin Fountain. They also have wine and beer if you're with someone who doesn't share your love of hard liquor. While the drinks don't quite reach the level of Hop Sing and Philadelphia Distilling, you can't beat the atmosphere.
Honorable Mention: La Colombe Coffee Roasters
1335 Frankford Ave
Going to a coffee shop for a cocktail? It sounds crazy and yes, you'll have to commit to drinking before their 7:00 p.m. weekday closing time, but La Colombe's Different Drum Rum is ridiculously good (this is coming from someone who isn't the biggest rum fan, thanks to certain college run-ins with The Captain). This coffee-infused rum is great if you want to drink it straight, but the cocktails they're making with it are even better.
Also check out: Best Philly Happy Hours