Bartender's Choice: 8 Cocktails from The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., Philadelphia

[Photographs: Suzanne Delaney]

The basement space of Philadelphia's The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. is steeped in Prohibition era lore. As the former site of one of the country's largest rum running rings, it seems only natural that it's been transformed into a cocktail bar. But bartenders Al Sotack and Colin Shearn would like to make it clear that the Franklin Mortgage is not a speakeasy and that Prohibition was the worst time for cocktail drinking.

Instead of recreating some Disneyfied version of the speakeasy, the folks behind Franklin Mortgage aim to bring cocktails back to their past glory, not necessarily by making old drinks, but by making good drinks. They were recently included among the semifinalists for the James Beard award for Outstanding Bar Program. The aesthetic is refreshingly unpretentious, with a heavy dose of humor and some great taste in music.

Al Sotack and Colin Shearn

Bartenders Al Sotack (left) and Colin Shearn (right).

The menu at Franklin Mortgage is epic, hovering around 30 cocktails divided into subcategories dubbed Required Reading, Rebellious Spirits, and I Asked Her For Water and She Brought Me Gasoline. The menu changes completely every three months, giving the bar's staff the opportunity to constantly evolve and create. Which are their favorite cocktails on the list? Check out the slideshow for a bartender-curated selection.

The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.

112 South 18th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (map) 610-459-2400;