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Philadelphia Classic Cocktails

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I will be in Philadelphia this weekend and I am wondering if there are any places in Philadelphia that serve classic/old-school cocktails?

I'm looking for places that would know how to make the drink and have the proper ingredients. I'm looking for drinks like Sazerac, Jack Rose, Red Hook, Aviation, etc. I'm coming up from Boston so if anyone is familiar with Boston I am looking for someplace that makes drinks like 9 Park, Green Street, B-Side or Eastern Standard. Or places similar to Flatiron, Pegu Club or Milk & Honey in NYC.


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  1. Check out Southwark 701 S 4th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147, (215) 238-1888. The bartenders make the best classic cocktails in Philly. They have a great selection of gins and rye whiskeys.

    1. I second the last response. Southwark makes classic cocktails with an excellent selection of liquors; stick to the classics as they don't make "modern" or gimmicky cocktails. Also, the food is excellent!

      1. Southwark is the place to go... end your search there! It truly is the quintessential bar for classic cocktails served by fine people enjoyed amongst fine people!

        1. Wow...I have never even heard of this place. I love what my sister and I call 'old people drinks'. Hardly anyone knows how to make these. Can you describe the food a little bit more?

          1. It's unanimous--Southwark. I think they have something like 18 different brands of rye whiskey. Have a rye Manhattan. This is what I would call the "wonton soup in a chinese restaurant test". It was like rediscovering Manhattans for the first time. Gin fizzes--really--egg whites and all. Vespers, Sazeracs, Negronis, etc., etc. This is the real deal.

            I was with an out of town guest (an elderly lady) and she asked for a Mohito. I was mortified. The bartender begrudgingly mouled some mint and sugar, and it was the best Mohito she had ever had. If only she could have ordered a real drink!

            2 Replies
            1. re: clairvaux

              Please, now I am dying to try this place. LOVE those 'old people cocktails' . Can you describe the food/appetizers. As far as a Mojito goes, my grandma only drank Manhattans. We thought this was a lame drink until we tried one! Wow. Grandma could put away 4 of them and walk a straight line. Then again, she was 14 when she immigrated to the US from Ireland (by herself) back in 1928.

              1. re: mschow

                The food at Southwark is fantastic. I love it there and I don't drink cocktails at all. They have great beers on draft as well as one of the best bars in the city.

            2. Here is a review of the food: http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/vie.... Southwark is a sort of L-shaped place, with a long bar with a few bar tables, then a narrow dining room in the back. I like to sit at a table in the bar, and make a meal of appetizers.There's something nice about the place.

              1 Reply
              1. re: janeer

                There is also a lovely little courtyard in the back with a half dozen (small) tables for when the weather is good

              2. Thanks everyone. I cannot believe I haven't heard of this place. Sounds great! Guessing parking around there is a bit tough if you are coming in from the burbs.
                Looking forward to giving it a try.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mschow

                  Actually, it isn't bad - unless it is a weekend. There is a small lot on Bainbridge between 4th and Passyunk if you don't care to drive around

                2. So I thought I would let you know that we took your recommendations and went to the Sothwark and it lived up (and probably surpassed) everyone's posts. George and Kip were behind the bar and we spoke to both for a while. I had a Sazerac with Old Overholt Rye, a Toronto (rye, fernet and simple syrup) with Rittenhouse and then the made me a drink with Isaiah Morgan Unaged Rye. The drink was with Pineapple juice and it wasn't something I would order again it was interesting to see how the different flavor characteristics of the unaged rye came through in a fruit based drink. It just goes to show the wide range or rye drinks you can make. My wife had a Pisco Sour and a Champaign cocktail and both were very well done.

                  We loved the space as well. Sort of old school and that is perfect for a place that specializes in old school cocktails. We didn't eat but I heard great things for other patrons regarding the food.

                  Also was interested to hear about Blue Coat Gin (which isn't available in MA). I bought a bottle and I am looking forward to giving it a try.

                  While talking to Kip and George we mentioned that we were staying at the Sofitel and they told us to go see Nick at the Sofitel lobby bar. So we visited the bar and had a nice time talking with Nick and he made me a nice Sazerac and a nice Manhattan (Rye of course).

                  I do have to add one additional comment about a place on the complete opposite spectrum from the Southwark. We were walking one evening we passed the Oceanaire Seafood Room on Walnut Street and thought we would go in and have a break from walking and partake in a drink. As soon as we sat down the bartender brings the menu and tells us they specialize in old school cocktails. In my experience, at least nine out ten times, when they tell me they specialize in old school cocktails it usually means they have no idea what they are doing but they think it sounds cool. Well this was one of those nine times. I ordered a Negroni, which I think along with an Old Fashion and a Manhattan are good barometers of a bartender’s skills. Well...he didn't use any gin. Needless to say our visit was short.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: JWR

                    Now I really do have to try this place; sounds great.
                    My sister has an expression for a bartender who knows how to make a good old-time cocktail: "He/She's got a good hand"!

                    1. re: JWR

                      Go back to Southwark next time, and make sure George makes your Negroni! It's the Sicilian thing.