Best of Philly

Best Cocktails

2021 Best Cocktail Guru

Danny Childs

The cocktails at the Farm & Fisherman Tavern in Cherry Hill are better than they have any right to be — and it’s all because of Danny Childs. Over the past year, his Instagram account (@slowdrinks) became a wealth of cocktail expertise where you could ask him drink-related questions. Now he’s back behind the bar just off Route 70, slinging in-season strawberry Sazeracs and fig-leaf-infused daiquiris. Read More »

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2021 Best To-Go Cocktails

Friday Saturday Sunday

Ready-to-drink cocktails are booming, thanks to the pandemic forcing bars and distilleries to get creative (and eager drinkers who begged for something they didn’t mix themselves). See the full write up at Ready-to-Drink Cocktails. Read More »

261 South 21st Street, Philadelphia, PA Website

2021 Best To-Go Cocktails

Bar Hygge

Ready-to-drink cocktails are booming, thanks to the pandemic forcing bars and distilleries to get creative (and eager drinkers who begged for something they didn’t mix themselves). See the full write up at Ready-to-Drink Cocktails. Read More »

1720 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA Website

2021 Best To-Go Cocktails

ALCO

Ready-to-drink cocktails are booming, thanks to the pandemic forcing bars and distilleries to get creative (and eager drinkers who begged for something they didn’t mix themselves). See the full write up at Ready-to-Drink Cocktails. Read More »

1431 Cadwallader Street, Philadelphia, PA Website

2021 Best To-Go Cocktails

Boardroom Spirits

Ready-to-drink cocktails are booming, thanks to the pandemic forcing bars and distilleries to get creative (and eager drinkers who begged for something they didn’t mix themselves). See the full write up at Ready-to-Drink Cocktails. Read More »

575 West Third Street, Lansdale, PA Website

2021 Best Post-Pandemic Trend

Ready-to-Drink Cocktails

Lansdale’s Boardroom Spirits founder Marat Mamedov says he noticed the rise of malt-based seltzers, knew canned cocktails would be the next big trend, and started canning a Moscow Mule. Made with the distillery’s Brazilian-ginger-root-infused vodka, the effervescent drink is not too sweet and totally refreshing — a tough balance to strike in a can.

“When you have a clean canvas to work with, which the vodka offers, you can let the other flavors shine through in a bigger manner without off-putting notes,” says Mamedov.

ALCO, one arm of Kensington-based New Liberty Distillery, canned classics like vodka soda and gin and tonic with the brand’s own spirits plus fresh ingredients — ­t­onic from ­century-old soft-drink company Natrona Bottling Company and real lemon and lime juices.

Others in Philly didn’t go so far as to can their concoctions, but they found creative ways to get them into eager drinkers’ hands this past year (well, while to-go cocktails were still legal), including Paul MacDonald at Friday Saturday Sunday and Eddie Adams, head bartender at Bar Hygge. Drawing on the ingenuity that makes them stand-out drink-makers even when we’re not in the midst of a global pandemic, both bartenders figured out how to keep the cocktails coming.

Adams made a steady stream of seasonal punch, which he offered in single-serving pouches or large-format glass bottles. Those came with a bottle of club soda plus a special mix of raw sugar, salt, lavender and coriander so you could rim your glass at home — a fancy touch in not-so-fancy times.

At FSS, MacDonald didn’t limit himself to any specific cocktail but instead bottled (or poured into a single-serving plastic cup) pretty much everything on the menu, except, he says, for the swizzles, which rely on packed-down pellet ice, and the egg-white drinks, which depend on that freshly shaken texture. “Fulfilling off-menu or bartender’s-pick requests has always been a big part of our cocktail program, so I did my best to keep that up when possible,” MacDonald says.

A grateful, slightly tipsy city salutes these libation innovations (and hopes the politicians in Harrisburg get their heads out of the cooler long enough to sign a permanent to-go-cocktail bill). Read More »

2018 Best Cocktails

Han Dynasty

Yes, you read that right. Han Dynasty has some of the best cocktails in Philly right now thanks to Lê of Hop Sing Laundromat, who swooped in and upgraded the bar menu with a handful of new, truly inventive elixirs. You’ll have almost as much fun sipping on the green matcha and vanilla Phat Phuc as you will ordering it. Read More »

123 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA | 215-922-1888 | Website

2017 Best Cocktail

Assassin’s Handbook at Friday Saturday Sunday

These days, even your corner shot-and-a-beer bar can mix up a technically perfect manhattan. (In other words, we wonder if Philly has reached maximum craft-cocktail capacity.) And then along comes barman Paul MacDonald with his zinger of a list. The star: the Assassin’s Handbook, a mixture of Jamaican rum, cognac, averna, amaro and mulled wine, with a spark of habanero at the finish. Wow. Read More »

261 South 21st Street, Philadelphia, PA | 215-546-4232 | Website

2015 Best Summer Cocktail

Mai Tai at the Yachtsman

Because a mai tai, done properly, is always going to be the best cocktail of any summer. And until this one came along, nobody around here was doing mai tais in a way that even approached "properly." Read More »

1444 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA | 267-909-8740

2014 Best Cocktail

Ela

The gin curry cocktail is icy, spicy and sweet, and it shouldn't taste good (curry? In a cocktail?), but the flavors sing in a drink that stands out even in this gin-soaked town. Read More »

627 South 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA | 267-687-8512 | Website

2013 Best Cocktail (Suburbs)

Frisco Kid at Citron and Rose

Rye whiskey, ginger-lime syrup, and a touch of that bitter-bomb so many serious bartenders swear by, Luxardo Fernet. If this is what kosher drinking tastes like, well be sailing into our Hebrew lessons 15 minutes early and three sheets to the wind. Read More »

370 Montgomery Avenue, Merion Station, PA | 610-664-4919 | Website

2012 Best Classic Cocktails

Southwark

Go to Southwark and order a Manhattan or a Sazerac. Then go anywhere else in the country and order the same cocktail. Then come home to Southwark, because the quaint Queen Village bar and restaurant does classic better than anyone. Read More »

701 South 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA | 215-238-1888 | Website

2011 Best Nonalcoholic Summer Drink Involving Pickles

Pickled Lemon Soda at Pho 75

Like Sprite, but exotic: Asian-style preserved lemons muddled with sugar and topped with soda. Read More »

1122 Washington Avenue, Philadelphia, PA | 215-271-5866

2010 Best Cocktail

Chick’s Caf and Wine Bar

There's a lot of drama involved in the preparation of this gin drink vigorous smacking of fresh basil leaves to release their essences, loud clashing of ice in the shaker but the end result is a lightly fragrant (from the rose-petal-infused simple syrup) and lemony concoction that will convince even the most avid gin-haters to reconsider. Read More »

614 South 7th Street, Philadelphia, PA | 215-625-3700

2013 Best Low-Cal Cocktail

Chiquita Margarita at La Calaca Feliz

It must have been a total Eureka! moment the day someone in the kitchen at this Fairmount Mexican eatery perfected the Splenda simple syrup that would then go into its skinny margarita. Once you sip this limey drink of perfection, which reportedly has half the calories of regular margs, you'll have a moment, too—of the "I'll have what she's having" variety. Don't say we didn't warn you. Read More »

2321 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA | 215-787-9930 | Website