Checking In At Bar Volver

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People go to bars for all kinds of reasons. To hang out with neighbors over three-dollar lagers. To knock back Beam-and-Pabst specials while stomping their feet to liquor-drinking music. To find out what happens when an eccentric teetotaler mixes a vast booze library with grapes juiced to order. To be quiet and get drunk.

In other words, to escape. And if Philadelphia is what you want to get away from, you need travel no further than to the bar at Volver.

Like the ticketed-entry dining room it abuts in the Kimmel Center, Jose Garces’ champagne-and-caviar lounge is in Philadelphia but not quite of it. Look one way and your eyes fall on a marbled white bar lit by the glow of four sleek halos that could have been commissioned by Starfleet. Look another—at an ultra-saturated blue textile mural crafted by local artist Conrad Booker out of 4,000 buttons and 200 yards of deeply dyed burlap—and you feel like you’ve warp-tunneled your way into Pedro Almodóvar’s Madrid. Meanwhile a soft-footed fleet of servers patrols the ebony-stained floorboards wearing black quasi-judo jackets trimmed with Jupiter orange, like a squad of acrobatic assassins waiting for Roger Moore to request a shaken martini.

It is a very, very cool place to sit down for an hour.

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Southwark Named Among Best Bars in America

Sazerac at Southwark

Sazerac at Southwark

Southwark gets a nice national accolade. The Queen Village bar and restaurant is recognized as one of the Best Bars in America by Food & Wine. The magazine praises the bar as a “pioneer in the resurgence of classic cocktails in Philadelphia.”

It isn’t the first time that Southwark has been so honored. Back in 2011, it and Franklin Mortgage both made the list.

Best Bars in America – Southwark [Food & Wine]
Southwark
 [Foobooz]

Sex Panther Obscures the Gaslight’s Potential

Adam Erace has some problems with the food at the Gaslight, but that’s nothing compared to what he had to say about the drinks. gaslight-cocktails-400

The Gaslight, the new bar/restaurant from Jason Cichonski, a chef whose reputation is built — fairly or unfairly — on equal parts scallop noodles and sex appeal. When he and Nick Elmi first encountered each other on the last season of Top Chef, Elmi looked at Cichonski’s pastel pink shorts and quipped, “You look like you just got off a yacht.”

I felt like I was on one at The Gaslight, that’s about how rocky the food was, but the cocktails were even weirder. This list appears to have been curated by a Cherry Hill bachelorette party, with confections bearing names like Pirate Hooker (a red currant Bellini, because who doesn’t want that at 9:30 p.m.?) and Hello Kitty, a martini whose fruity flavors (green tea, lychee, strawberry) make more sense together at Old City Frozen Yogurt down the street.

Tragically named cocktails aren’t the only missteps at The Gaslight [City Paper]
The Gaslight [Foobooz]

Historical Milk Punch Is Coming Back

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Photo by Vincent Stipo

In this week’s City Paper, Adam Erace takes a look at the history of milk punch and the version that Vincent Stipo of Vernick Food and Drink has on his menu. Meal Ticket also has Stipo’s recipe for milk punch in case you’re looking for a weekend project.

Otherwise try milk punch for yourself at Vernick, or make it a vertical tasting and get a second version of the historical drink from George Costa at Petruce et al.

Cocktail to try: Milk Punch [City Paper]
Recipe: Vernick’s Milk Punch [Meal Ticket]

Bar Volver Opens This Evening

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The first-come-first serve part of Jose Garces’s Volver opens to the public tonight. Bar Volver is a champagne and caviar lounge that will feature a selection of small bites including oysters, cheese, charcuterie and three varieties of caviar. Bar manager Gordana Kostovski has created a menu of cocktails designed to pair well with the food coming from Garces’s kitchen. Also available to the Bar Volver customer will be over 1,500 bottles of old and new world wines with a particular focus on sparkling wines.

Highlights and the full menu » 

Society Hill Society To Replace Artful Dodger

society-hill-society-logoOne of the most asked queries that land in our inboxes over the past few months is just what is coming to the corner of 2nd and Pine Streets, the longtime home of the Artful Dodger. Requests for information have gone unanswered and now, less than a week before the grand opening details have finally been revealed.

Michael Klein gets the details on Reed Barrow’s first bar and restaurant, Society Hill Society. The neighborhood tavern concept will have JG Domestic and Rosa Blanca chef de cuisine, Yun Fuentes in the kitchen where he will be serving up a menu “inspired by classic Pennsylvania flavors, served in a casual atmosphere.”

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The Drink Program for Petruce et al

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We gave you a look inside Petruce et al earlier this week as they were preparing for tonight’s opening. And now we have Petruce’s opening drink list. A list that is particularly interesting with the dynamic duo of Tim Kweeder and George Costa.

The list includes classic cocktails as well as some interesting “new school” versions as well. A small but interesting wine selection is available by glass and bottle. Beers are available on draft as well as beer and bottle.

Petruce et al drink list » 

Fundraisers for Alex’s Lemonade Stand

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This Saturday, March 22nd, the Lemon Society, a young professionals group that supports Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is hosting its third annual Lemon Society Speakeasy. The prohibition-themed mixology event takes place at the Pyramid Club, high atop the BNY Mellon Center at 18th and Market.

Bartenders from across the city will be creating cocktails for the event that will be put to a vote by celebrity judges and all those in attendance.

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Where We’re Eating: The Bar at Avance

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Once upon a time, Le Bar Lyonnais was a sexy hideaway beneath Le Bec-Fin. But that time has passed. Le Bec-Fin has given way to Avance. And beneath Avance is its bar—still clandestine, still sexy, but now modern rather than hung with blue velvet drapes and mirrors. The space shares the same theme as the dining room upstairs—black-walnut-topped bar and high tables—but downstairs, the gray walls and low ceilings combine for a darker, more intimate space, ideal for pre-dinner drinks or a late-night rendezvous. The drinks are creative and playfully named; “A Roll of Quarters in a Clutch Purse” and “See You Around the Bend” are among the most clever. Besides the signature cocktails, drinkers can peruse the long menu of liquors, wines and beers. Diners can order from the regular Avance à la carte menu or try one of the bar-only dishes, including the lamb burger—a two-handed sandwich featuring Border Springs Farm lamb topped with red onion marmalade and feta cheese. Ordered at medium-rare, this juicy burger teases at just what chef Justin Bogle has in store upstairs. 

Avance [Foobooz]

First appeared in the March, 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

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