First Sip: Bar


Jason Evanchik has a strange trinity of establishments on his hands. First there was Vintage, a perfectly respectable wine bar he opened in Center City in 2006. Then came Time, a multi-use spot just around the corner from Vintage that features an upstairs absinthe den where events like “The Naked Party” are held and two downstairs bars: one with TVs, the other with live jazz. And, as of Friday, he’s added Bar, a two-story bar (obviously) just down from Time.

On Monday, Thrillist wrote that Bar was “so good,” adding, “For a bar that delivers what it promises, hit, uh, Bar.”

I disagree.

When I walked into Bar on Monday evening, there were only a few other customers, and yet it took the bartender several minutes to engage me in any way. I ordered a PBR, since Bar is obviously going for the dive bar thing (the food is limited to hot dogs and ramen) and since that’s what I usually drink at Bob and Barbara’s and Fiume, my two favorite dives in Philadelphia.

But as Bar is just steps away from trendy 13th Street and since any “bar” should be able to produce a reasonably good cocktail on any given night, I later decided to order a Manhattan, a classic three-ingredient drink that has been around for more than 100 years. I honestly don’t know how the friendly fellow behind the bar made my drink, but I found it undrinkable. Same for an old-fashioned.

Now, I realize that there are readers out there who are thinking What kind of douchebag orders a Manhattan at a “dive” bar? These are the same people who chastised me for ordering exquisite Maker’s Mark at Oscar’s. What I say to you is this: You’re wrong. Any bar in the city — especially one whose name is Bar — should be able to pull of a Manhattan, as Fiume does so well. Hell, I’ve even had a perfectly good Manhattan at the Midtown diner’s cocktail lounge.

OK, so that’s what I didn’t like. Here’s what I did: There’s a gaming room upstairs, although there’s a real danger of it becoming overpopulated by the frat boy contingent; the canned beer list is impressive and priced to sell; and the downstairs bar is a perfectly comfortable place to hang out, assuming you can get a drink and that said drink is a can of beer paired with a shot.

Bar, 1309 Sansom Street; no phone.