Aside from being one of the best-dressed and best-named business owners in the city, Voltaire Blain has an unusually welcoming store — a historic Chestnut Hill home where the shoes are displayed not on racks, but on a pool table — and an equally impressive collection: Styleshoes by Alden, Paraboot, and Gaziano and Girling, some of which he designed himself. 8433 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118, stylebyblain.com.
The tchotchkes here — German handbemalt candles, a Mork & Mindy doll, a taxidermied raccoon, a ceramic turtle ashtray — may be a random mishmash, but they’ll add gravitas to your bookshelves in a way nothing from Target ever could. 2441 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19125, instagram.com/thunderbirdsalvage/.
This no-frills shop is the place to buy, trade and repair Remingtons, Royals, Olympias and Smith Coronas – or to indulge in the sweet, simple thrill of click-clacking on some old-school keys. 1439 East Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19147, phillytypewriter.com/.
Exploring this rambling old house might actually feel as if you’re on an archaeological dig – you have to sift through a lot of kitsch before you get to the good stuff. But the treasures you’ll eventually unearth, like a 1930s barrister’s cabinet, vintage Louis Vuitton luggage, and a Victorian marble-topped table, make the hunt more than worth it. 1918 Brownsville Road, Trevose, PA 19053, brownsvilleantiques.com/index.html.
At this master tile artist’s workshops, you can craft your own address plate, in your choice of styles and colors, so you get exactly what your house longs for. 90 East Church Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19144, karensinger.com/.
This Malvern-based start-up run by a trio of local college-kids-turned-entrepreneurs comes to your home or office to do the job, eschews soap and water for a plant-based cleaning solution, and donates money from each wash (they start at $40) to provide water for communities in need. Service areas include Philly and its 'burbs and select spots in Delaware and South Jersey. waterless-works.com.
You're probably capable of hanging family photos on the wall, but when it comes to fine art, you should turn to a pro. Kevin Reissmann of Premier Art Installation is a professional installer for the Philadelphia Museum of Art who also hangs priceless pieces for collectors in the area and beyond. (Clients have included Coretta Scott King and Usher.) He'll even move your masterpieces, should you need to relocate your Renoir from the Devon estate to your home in Miami. premierartinstallation.com.
Homing in on your tee game is probably the last thing you thought you'd ever be doing near Chinatown, but the HD simulators in this inconspicuous building allow you to "play" some of the world's most prestigious courses, while the high-tech swing analysis, private lessons and beginner workshops keep the yips away no matter the season. 211 North 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, golfsciencecenter.com/.
The King family doesn't go in for fancy arrangements or bells and whistles. (No surprise there: They're Amish.) These growers, who come from Lancaster every Saturday to sell their flowers at the Rittenhouse and Clark Park farmers' markets, put together simple but stunning bouquets so vivid that the kiosk literally stops passersby in their tracks. And you can take one home for as little as $5. Rittenhouse and Clark Park farmers markets, .
Greg Vernick has gathered ideas from places as far-flung as Qatar and Tokyo but the best thing about his restaurant is the way it makes you feel at home. While the Cherry Hill native comforts you with his stupendous toasts or lulls you into a daze with his grilled black sea bass his best pal, GM Ryan Mulholland, makes everyone who comes through the door feel not so much like an honored guest as a welcome friend. 2031 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103, vernickphilly.com.
Xavi Row designer Leroy West will come to your home with a briefcase of fabric samples. Then he’ll work with you to design a cut and customize every last detail, from the buttons to the inside lining. Starting at $800, your threads can still cost less than much of what you can find off the rack. xavirow.com/.
Because you can’t shop for a BVI vacation at 9 p.m. the night before you leave, Pamela Caruso and Jennifer Rossi will bring the racks (and plenty of coordinating accessories) right to you. The concierge stylists have also sourced $55 black-tie gowns and held meetings in day-care parking lots — they can even arrange for a tailor to come to your home or office. bravadophilly.com/.
Just in case the thought of a simultaneous scalp and foot massage isn't enough to make your eyes roll back in your head, we'll explain it this way: It might be best to have a loved one come along to drive you home afterward, as if you are undergoing an outpatient medical procedure for which you are receiving heavy sedation. Because truth be told, after this massage, we shouldn't have been on the road. 415 South York Road, New Hope, PA 18938, nurturespa.com/.
Why? Because he started cooking at 13. Because he did time in Aspen before coming to work for Marc Vetri at his eponymous Philly restaurant and then, when Michaud decided that he needed to learn more about Italian cooking, just up and moved to Lombardy, where he spent three years walking the earth like Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu working his way up from butcher's boy at a small family shop to executive chef at an inn at the foot of the Alps. Then he came home again and opened Osteria for Vetri, where he currently does amazing things to pizzas, pastas and rabbits. 640 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130, osteriaphilly.com/.
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).