Philly’s Best Bartender Hates the Term Mixologist Just as Much as We Do

Paul MacDonald photographed at Friday Saturday Sunday by Ted Nghiem.

Behind the Line is Foobooz’s interview series with the people who make up Philadelphia’s dynamic bar and restaurant scene. Click here for the full archive.

The last time we featured a bartender in Behind the Line, we spoke with Kelly “Waffles” Wolff from legendary Philly dive bar Bob & Barbara’s. This time around, we’ve gone about as far from a dive bar as you can get. Here’s our interview with Paul MacDonald from the recently-reimagined Rittenhouse Square boîte Friday Saturday Sunday, which claimed the #1 spot in our new 50 Best Bars in Philadelphia.

My full name is… Paul David MacDonald.

I’m originally from… Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. These days, I live in South Philly. East Passyunk, to be precise… where all the restaurant people live. Read more »

Bad Bar People #1: The Jukebox Violator

A Budweiser swilling (and Budweiser/Phillies t-shirt wearing!) jukebox violator.

A Budweiser swilling (and Budweiser/Phillies t-shirt wearing!) jukebox violator.

We give you the latest Foobooz series: Bad Bar People, in which we’ll bring you the worst customers, bartenders, and other contributors to dreadful drinking experiences. Enjoy.

The worst thing to happen to the bar scene over the last decade has got to be whipped cream vodka. But the second worst thing is undoubtedly those you-can-play-virtually-anything TouchTunes jukeboxes and the people who use them to make everyone else miserable. These evolutionary mistakes make up the inaugural category of Bad Bar People: The Jukebox Violator. Read more »

Philadelphia’s Best Local Spirits


From left: Different Drum Pennsylvania rum, Rowhouse Spirits gin and Bluecoat Barrel Finished gin | Photo by Claudia Gavin

Philadelphia’s booming distilling scene is ridiculously young (thanks to only recently changed licensing laws), and yet we’ve already got spirits on the shelves that can hold their own against some of the most recognizable global brands. Here are seven worth adding to your liquor cabinet.

Read more »

Announcing the 2015 50 Best Bars in Philadelphia

Keith Raimondi at Townsend | Photo by Neal Santos

Keith Raimondi at Townsend | Photo by Neal Santos

For seven years now we’ve polled bartenders, beer reps, booze writers and professional drinkers of all stripes, and asked them to pick their most-loved bars in the area. We then add our own favorites, do a little cocktail-napkin math and come up with the 50 Best Bars in Philadelphia. This year the Best Bars list includes dives, gastropubs, cocktail lounges and even an awesome little spot in Port Richmond.

This year’s list features a new number one bar, but that’s far from the only interesting tidbit on the list.

Inside the Best Bars List »

Last Call at Philadelphia’s Best Bad Bar


All the B&W regulars came back for one last hurrah on Wednesday night. Joanne texted us this photo.

Last February, I wrote a story about the B&W bar, the one in the Best Western, right off the Parkway in Fairmount. Over the course of a week, I showed up pretty much every night, drank a lot of beer, took probably not enough notes, and never went back again.

It’s not that I didn’t like the place; just the opposite, I fell in love with it. In fact, I grew so attached to the cast of characters that populated the bar — real regulars, the kind you thought didn’t exist anymore — that I was worried they wouldn’t like what I wrote.

Read more »


U Bar takes our prize for Best Bar.

U Bar takes our prize for Best Bar for its amazingly diverse clientele (and extra-strong drinks.)

A mix of every type of guy, young to old, buff to not-so-buff. A no-’tude vibe. Efficient, friendly bartenders. A horseshoe layout that allows for eye contact everywhere. Is it any surprise this place has become the go-to default on Philly’s gay-bar hit parade? 1220 Locust St., 215-546-6660,

More of our bar picks after the jump »


best of gayborhood thursday


For those looking to eschew the weekend crowds, consider a Thirsty Thursday. Start at Stir for “Stirsday,” where the five-dollar cover gets you dollar drinks ’til midnight. (Midnight!) Next, saunter (or perhaps stagger) down to Bob and Barbara’s for the longest-running and best drag show in Philly, hosted by the extraordinary Lisa Lisa. At 1, cab it (you’ll need to by this point) to Woody’s, where DJ Deejay spins in the Suite. Then, over to Voyeur before last call to avoid the long lines; Suga Shay will keep you on your feet down in the Ruby Lounge. Good luck getting to work on time — or sober — on Friday.  Stir, 1705 Chancellor Street, 215-732-2700; Bob and Barbara’s, 1509 South Street, 215-545-4511; Woody’s, 202 South 13th Street, 215-545-1893; Voyeur, 1221 St. James Street, 215-735-5772.


Knock banner


At Knock, the city’s greatest day drinkers — mature gay men — come out to play. When weather permits, grab a seat outside and order the Knock Mimosa from Jeb, made with Stoli O for an extra powerful punch. What you’ll lack in eye candy will be more than made up for in conversation with the city’s best barroom raconteurs. 225 South 12th Street, 215- 925-1166,

More photos after the jump »

It’s Cocktail Week at Fiume, The Best Bar You Have Never Been To

Philadelphia magazine food editor Jason Sheehan and I don’t agree on all that much, but one thing that we both do see eye to eye on is that West Philly’s Fiume is one of the best bars in the city, hands down. And this week (through Saturday), Fiume presents Cocktail Week.

“On one end of the spectrum, we’ll offer easy, bright refreshing choices,” says Fiume’s Kevin Holland (pictured), who we’re pretty sure owns or at least runs the joint, which sits on the second floor of Ethiopian restaurant Abyssinia at 45th and Locust. “On the other end, we’ll present boozier, more challenging, and sometimes downright abstruse numbers. To bridge the gap, each night there will be two or three falling in the middle of that spectrum. We’re not offering any cocktails this week that we have presented before.”

Last night, Holland and his team served up drinks like the Paloma, Boulevard des Reves, and gin-based Prohibition-era drink The Final Word, and the rest of the week, they’ll keep introducing new ones. Look for repertory cocktails like the Baroque and Famous (Navy proof rum, Hatian rum, Cynar, Carpano Antica, Angostura bitters and orange bitters on the rocks) and the Trinidad Sour (Angostura bitters, orgeat, bonded rye, and fresh lemon juice, served up) as well as staff creations like Under a Panama (Reposado mescal, amaretto, Fernet, fresh lime juice, and fresh mint on the rocks, by Fiume newcomer Jo “Aussie Jo” Randell) and Boogu Yagga Gal (Old Raj London Dry Gin, Amaro Nonino, Luxardo Cherry, and Navy strength rum on the rocks, by Holland).

And don’t worry, they still have over 100 beers available. Not too shabby for a place that maybe seats 20 and doesn’t have a phone.

[PHOTO: Ryan Collerd]

« Older Posts