So I was talking with Le the other day, and he told me that, like last summer, he was going to be releasing a new list of happy hour shots.
But this being Le (and his bar, Hop Sing Laundromat, being Hop Sing Laundromat), this wasn’t going to be any collection of lemon drops and Irish car bombs. No, he uses his happy hour lists like maps to discount adventure — incredible deals on simple pours from some of the best and most interesting bottles he keeps behind the bar. We’re talking a 12-year-old Redbreast for $7.77. A Dalmore single malt that’s been sleeping for 15 years for $12.12.
No, I don’t know exactly why he chose those prices. But I do know that they’re bargains. So if you’re a fan of brown spirits (this year’s list skews heavily in the scotch-rye-whiskey direction), you’re going to want to check this list out.
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A couple years ago, I spent a bunch of time hanging out with Lê from Hop Sing Laundromat with the idea of writing a profile on him for Philly mag. It went well — or anyway, as well as such a thing could possibly go — and I heard a lot of stories and I took a lot of notes and I wrote what I think is a pretty decent origin story for Lê and his bar. It was probably more true than it was false which, when dealing with Lê, is about the best you can ever hope for.
But as it turned out, during all that time he never told me what has become my favorite story about the early days of Hop Sing. The one that probably speaks more than any other to his mind and his way of doing business. I heard it for the first time last week, during the 5th anniversary party he threw, while he stood on the bar, roaring and laughing and thanking the crowd of press and friends and regulars.
It was about the shower he had built in the back room.
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Yin & Yang | Photo by Robert Neroni
Last week I visited Hop Sing Laundromat for happy hour where North Korea’s biggest fanboy, Lê poured me a cocktail he had been working on. He wasn’t certain if the drink was better up and garnished with a Luxardo Maraschino cherry or served over a big ice cube with a an orange peel.
So Lê poured me half-measures of the drink up and on the rock and asked for my opinion. The difference in flavor between the two was striking. The breadth of flavor was made all the more striking since this was a two ingredient cocktail of Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof Bourbon and Averna Amaro.
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There are some rumors floating around out there in the restaurant world that Lê, the most recognizable face behind Hop Sing Laundromat (and occasional spokesman for the North Korean government), is closing down his Chinatown bar and moving on.
We can say with confidence that this is not true.
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Photo by Mike Persico
Lê from Hop Sing Laundromat has updated his shot-based happy hour. The happy hour allows properly attired guests to shoot or sip (probably sip) Espolon Añejo tequila for $3.50, Booker’s Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey for $7.77 or Bowmore’s 25 years old Single Malt Whisky $39.99 plus many other top notch spirits. It might be pricy for that 25-year old Bowmore, but when you consider a bottle costs $445 it starts to look like a deal. A deal you sip, delicately.
Happy hour at Hop Sing Laundromat is Tuesday through Friday, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Hop Sing Laundromat’s happy hour menu »
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 »
Photo by Mike Persico
No, not by us (though, not for nothing, we have said similar things). This time, it was the crew at Conde Nast Traveler (plus a bunch of bartenders from all across this great nation) who made the call, putting Hop Sing Laudromat into their global search for the best places to get soused.
Here’s what they had to say…
Check out what the impressive lineup of events that are happening Upstairs at Vetri this June. He’s got local personalities like Peter McAndrews (Monsu, Modo Mio, Paesano’s), Scott Schroeder (American Sardine Bar, South Philadelphia Taproom), Lê from Hop Sing Laundromat and Emilio Mignucci of Di Bruno Bros. on the docket. And then he also has 2012 James Beard Award winner Mindy Seagal talks cookies and of course Marc Vetri himself teaching about pasta.
Check out the full list on Vetri’s web site.
Photograph by Justin James Muir
Hey, Buddy …
I can see Lê on Market Street, pulling stuff out of the passenger seat of his BMW convertible. Mail, packages, receipts, a thick FedEx envelope that he holds up to the side of his head and shakes. He has on a long-sleeved sweater and jeans, oversized Gaultier glasses and a little hat — hipster affectation that he wears like he was born with it. I cross the street to join him, and he looks up, grins, Blu e-cigarette clamped in his teeth and the vapor from it trailing out of the corner of his mouth like a cartoon devil.
“Hey, buddy! Let’s go to lunch.” Read more »
Wear sneakers to Hop Sing Laundromat on New Year’s Eve.
On New Year’s Eve, Hop Sing Laundromat is loosening its legendary dress code for one night only. From 10 p.m. till closing, Lê is waiving his must-wear-shoes policy and offering guests the chance to wear sneakers.
Lê tells us, guests have asked for the opportunity to break one of the rules and he feels that there’s no better night than the night everyone else is getting dressed up and paying a premium for just about everything.
Hop Sing opens at 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and the dress code will be in effect till 10 p.m. As always, there is no cover at the Chinatown bar. Hop Sing will also be closed from Tuesday, December 23 to Thursday, December 25.
Hop Sing Laundromat [Foobooz]