Philadelphia’s Best Bars

Our 85 favorite places to start a tab

COCKTAIL BARS

The Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co.
Drinks like the Cowboy Killer and Oh, Sweet Nothing will change the way you think about cocktails forever. And the fact that you get to drink them underground and in the dark just makes them double-awesome.

Oyster House
Yeah, we know damn well that a few Oyster House Punches will lay us out flat, but we just can’t stop drinking them.

Alma de Cuba
The vibe was super-cool 10 years ago. Not so much today. But Alma is still the standby for groups who want one more drink at the end of the night. Inevitably, they end up having more than one more.


The Farmers’ Cabinet
This place is what would happen if Ridley Scott were directing a happy hour for beer snobs, cocktail historians, Jazz Age hep cats and righteous old drunks. It’s one of the strangest and most amazing places to have a drink in Philly right now.

Southwark
One of the very few classic cocktail bars in the city that can make a $15 drink that’s worth every penny.

Parc
It’s the beautiful atmosphere that makes the $11 cocktails go down easier. And if you ever need a temporary escape, the Parisian bar here might be one of the least Philly-feeling places in the entire city.

Rouge
Yes, it’s a mash-up of prowling cougars, rich socialites and Ed Hardy-wearing jackasses, but there’s no better place for watching the Rittenhouse society set get bombed on glasses of rosé and heavy pours from the bar.

Zahav
Most people go here for the duck hearts and lamb’s tongue. We go for the bar; it’s one of the most underrated in town.

Caribou Café
Parc too snooty? Go here instead. It’s got the same Gallic soul and French cocktails, but without the pretension.

Varga Bar
The pinup girls on the ceiling are like muses swirling round the heads of good drinkers, and the black-and-white Deco styling makes you feel classy even if you’re drinking merlot with an ice cube in it.

Tryst
Terrible name, but a good bar in the former Bar Lyonnaise space below Le Bec-Fin. If this is Georges Perrier’s attempt at attracting a younger demographic, it’s working, with its swanky take on non-Prohibition-era cocktailing.

Ranstead Room
Think of it as a grittier, more authentic backup when you can’t get into Franklin Mortgage. A perfect makeout bar because it’s pitch-black and has pictures of boobs everywhere—plus, the craft cocktails are delicious and will knock you flat. 2013 Ranstead Street, 215-563-3330.

Pub & Kitchen
A place that’s serious about its food and drink, but still remembers that the reason people go out drinking in the first place is to have some fun.

Twenty Manning Grill
After a couple cocktails at the bar, being here is like drinking in a cloud of cotton candy and beautiful people.

A.Kitchen
While the main action at A.Kitchen might be happening among the local celebrities on the floor, those who really know what they like hide out at the bar for excellent cocktails that perfectly marry classicism and modern mixology.

Continental Midtown
Perfect for precisely two things: 1) as a spot to drink martinis; and 2) as a spot to drink enough martinis that you won’t be bothered by the fact that you’re drinking with the crowd that frequents the Continental.

Village Whiskey
It’s small, it’s crowded, and getting through the door on a busy night can be a nightmare. But in the off-hours, this is actually one of our favorite places in the city to drink, because there’s nothing in the world that pairs quite so well as a $70 pour of whiskey, neat, and a $3 order of tater tots.

Georges’
Perrier has always claimed this is his “casual” restaurant. It isn’t. But having a drink at the well-appointed bar can be.

Sassafras
An oasis of sanity and refinement in Old City. Where neighborhood grown-ups come to drink something that doesn’t come in a 40-ounce can spiked with caffeine.

Square 1682
There’s not much that can make us drink in a hotel bar, but this place sometimes offers specials that are irresistible: hot toddies on a freezing January day, champagne cocktails in the middle of February. If you’re in the mood to feel fancy, you could do a lot worse than drinking here.

nineteen
Six-dollar cocktails at the happy hour here (atop the Bellevue) are the perfect way to feel like a classy gent while getting loaded on less than $20.

Anton’s at The Swan
Like partying at some musty old English manor house, but down the back stairs, with the servants.

Paramour
Finally, a hotel bar swanky enough to truly call the Main Line home.

To read about the city's best craft beer bars, click here.

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  • heavy

    you can’t have a list of the best bars in philadelphia withouth mcgillins ale house. one of the best bars in town and a philadelphia legend.

  • Joe

    Where’s Perch Pub? Wake up Philadelphia Magazine. All brown everything.

  • Gloria

    What no Capital Grille in Philadelphia! One of the best bars and bartenders (my son-in law especially) in the city.
    Gloria

  • Rachel

    I can give you 150 reasons why McGillin’s should have been on your list of best bars!

  • B

    McGillin’s. End of comment.

  • j

    this list is garbage. mcgillins is one of the best bars on the east coast, let alone philly.

  • Jodi

    I’m from Seattle, and I send anyone I know coming to Philadelphia to the Franklin. Best bar in your city.

  • Travis

    The fact that I live 10 steps from the Pickering Creek Inn and have gone exactly 1 time and live over an hour from McGillin’s, through traffic-invested 76 and Center City, and have gone over 100 should tell you everything you need to know about this list. It is a complete and utter joke.

  • Ken

    Btw, Sweeney’s does have a website if you want to fix that on your Neighborhood Haunts page –

    http://www.sweeneyssaloon.net/

  • accky

    i know the girl who gave the tria quote. shes a boozehound. she thought i was a jerk but turns out she was the one that did the jerking (in the bathroom nonetheless). whoot whoot.

  • Nope

    Ha, no McGillans!?! How do you take yourselves seriously? Your online editors just wasted their time writing this article

  • Jim

    Although this list isn’t perfect, everybody relax about McGillin’s. It’s not a list of Philadelphia’s 85 oldest bars, or it’s most obvious bars.

  • Bill

    This list loses all of the respect it gains for putting Franks and Cocos on here when it names Fox and the Hound as one of the best bars in the city.

  • Rosie

    uhhhh, what about misconduct tavern? this list is s#*%!

  • stew

    I don’t understand how you can write an article about best gastro pubs and not have a good understanding of what a gastro pub is. It is a bar with Chef-driven comfort food in a casual setting usually including interesting cocktails and thoughtful beer and wine selections. It seems this list was put together randomly and without focus. Half of the selections do not meet the criteria – Fox and Hound? I was hoping to learn something from this, now I just want my 5 minutes back.

  • Harvey

    I have looked at various lists like this over the past week. I only have one question, did eulogy close or something?

  • Robert W.

    I’m saving this years’ Nov. issue to see whether
    my suggestions make it to next years list. Two
    good places, (one in N.E. Philly and the other
    in Feasterville) are Dagwoods Pub located at
    Torresdale & Linden Aves. and the other is The
    Copper Kettle at Bristol & Bridgewater Town Rds.
    They are both reasonably priced with a full menu and friendly atmosphere.

  • Robert W.

    I’m saving this years’ Nov. issue to see whether
    my suggestions make it to next years list. Two
    good places, (one in N.E. Philly and the other
    in Feasterville) are Dagwoods Pub located at
    Torresdale & Linden Aves. and the other is The
    Copper Kettle at Bristol & Bridgewater Town Rds.
    They are both reasonably priced with a full menu and friendly atmosphere.

  • River

    It’s incredible that you neglected to include Kraftwork Bar in Fishtown. It could easily have fit under neighborhood bar, craft brews or gastropub, but you missed it altogether! A beautiful space with two dozen beers on tap & delicious, reasonable food.

  • Gandhus

    Lists like this are usually a little silly as are many of the descriptions, but so are a lot of the comments. A rash of McGillin’s lovers and few other jokers. Sweeney’s? Dagwood’s? Kopper Kettle? (Yes, with a ‘K’) Come on, get serious. I do however, agree with the last comment about Kraftwork.