Chick's Social Kitchen + Bar
Simplicity is key at Chick’s, a bar that’s been around, with various proprietors (including some mafioso types), since 1893. Chef/owner Jim Piano has taken the food in a seasonal Italian direction, and the well-maintained bar prides itself on its European wine-pouring roots—with a few nice cocktail options thrown in for good effect.
What to Order at Chick's: Dark & Stormy ($9)
Water, a pound of shredded ginger and a hefty scoop of brown sugar are the straightforward starting points of Chick’s house-steeped D&S base, which joins a generous two-ounce pour of Gosling’s Black Seal rum and a bit of club soda to introduce some fizz. It’s a simple, patience-required tweak that produces a Dark & Stormy superior to one shaken up with bottled ginger beer.
Southwark dining-room denizens find themselves in the steady, salumi-slicing hands of chef Nick Macri, but Queen Village’s local-food landmark has always been a respected haven for old-school cocktail fanatics, too. (They still drop an upside-down shot glass in front of you if you’ve earned yourself a free round.) Co-owner Kip Waide’s bar stock is a beaut, with one of the best rye selections in the Commonwealth. This means orders are infinitely upgradable, so be sure to ask for your drink-maker’s spirited opinion.
What to Order at Southwark: Manhattan (price varies by rye)
Old Overholt is the default bottle grabbed when drinkers order up a Manhattan at Southwark, but many bump up to Rittenhouse Rye, the bartender’s-darling whiskey that has its distilling roots in Philly. If Waide and Co. happen to pour out a little too much when mixing your drink, lucky you: You’ll likely get the keys to the frosted tin containing the excess booze for topping-off purposes.
Located on South Street, Bella Vista’s northernmost border, Supper takes its “farm to table” ethos seriously, snagging many of its ingredients from Blue Elephant, a 75-acre spread in Newtown Square. The beverage selection holds its own, built up with local beers, domestic wines, and a handful of cocktails designed by Center City’s Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co.
What to Order at Supper: the Sorcerer ($11)
Bluecoat, locally crafted by Philadelphia Distilling Company, is the beautiful base for this popular, and populist, Supper cocktail option. That gin plus St. Germain, Solerno (Sicilian blood orange liqueur), Peychaud’s, and lemon juice, translates well into the glass, a balanced sipper ideal for people who want to save a little sobriety for rounds two, three and four.
Jason Cichonski’s kitchen is known for daring combinations—bluefish and coffee? green olives and raisins?—an adventurous spirit that spills over to Ela’s bar program. The formerly straight-edge chef (!) is fond of drawing up creative flavor pairings he passes onto head bartender Lauryn Obozian, who converts them into cocktails at this Queen Village standby.
What to Order at Ela: Bought a Bride ($11)
All the drinks on Ela’s list are named after songs by the band Brand New, but you’re not required to scream and/or cry while ordering. Obozian’s Bought a Bride actually encourages the opposite. This tall tipple combines Sailor Jerry rum, Disaronno, fresh-grated ginger, lime juice and Peychaud’s bitters, a springy and sprightly recipe finished with a float of bittersweet Aperol.
Another example of a BV/QV restaurant with a storied hospitality history, Second Street’s Kennett operated as a boarding house (and, as local lore tells it, illegal distillery) around the turn of the 20th century. It’s now a humming neighborhood bar and restaurant, but the sauced spectre of Prohibition hangs around in the form of a large and ambitious cocktail designed by local cocktail consultants Phoebe Esmon and Christian Gaal.
What to Order at Kennett: De Rigueur ($9)
Listed in the “Bootleggers” section of the menu, this classic bourbon drink is, as its name indicates, required reading for all those fond of American brown liquor. Old-Grand Bonded serves as the steel toes of this barkeep’s boot, with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and a honey-based syrup sweetening up its core. Peychaud’s bitters serve as a colorful last-ingredient-in garnish. All the flavors are on-point, but we’d love to see how the drink would go down over a larger hunk of ice.
Bistrot La Minette
A French bistro so aggressively authentic that it deliberately left the antiquated T on the end of its name, La Minette boasts an exceptional old-world wine list, a feature that earns almost as much attention as the escargot and signature Cassoulet de Toulouse. Though sometimes overlooked, its non-vino booze options are also worthy. Classics like the Sazerac have their place on the menu, as do underappreciated Gallic ingredients like calvados, rhum agricole, and crème de cassis.
What to Order at Bistrot La Minette: Kir Royale ($11)
A proper Kir Royale, something that’s surprisingly difficult to find in Philly, is just two ingredients: a few fingers of sweet, viscous crème de cassis slid into the bottom of a Champagne flute, then topped with sparkling wine. La Minette extends the refreshing specialty beyond currant affairs into flavors like pear, grapefruit, peach and cherry.