This Fall, We’re Drinking Martinis and Only Martinis
Sipping martinis at bars across the city makes an excellent activity as days get shorter and nights get colder.
When autumn hits and the days get shorter, I need an activity to prevent me from retreating inside with a large blanket and a bottle of wine. I need a project.
This fall, my project is martinis.
It’s the perfect winter drink, really — bracing and sturdy, with enough alcohol to make the cold evening bearable on my walk home. In a season where blankets and sweatshirts feel like my only friends, the thought of a martini is enough to inspire me to dig a pressed shirt out of my closet, to shower and give this cocktail the respect it deserves. If you’re drinking a martini, you’re committed to a night on the town, to wearing velvet or silk or both.
I like to peruse the house cocktail list as much as the next person, but to really get a read on a bar, I’m ordering a martini and asking for the bartender’s recommendation. It’s a conversation as much as a beverage — house-blended gin? I’d love to try it. Hand-stuffed blue cheese olives? That’s why I’m here. Don’t let the seemingly countless variations of the martini overwhelm you. That’s exactly what makes this drink perfect for guiding explorations through the city.
These bars are a good place to start.
The Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar, Old City
A good place to start is with an old-school diner turned martini bar that will transport you back in time. The Continental’s menu explains martini jargon like ‘dry’ or ‘dirty’ so you don’t have to stumble through your order. Let the menu guide you through the options, then sample and decide what you like. If you don’t notice the olive-on-toothpick light fixtures, you may have had one too many.
Parc Rittenhouse, Rittenhouse
A martini should transport you away from the tedium of every day life – Parc does this twice over with its dreamy, French inspired interior, sunny sidewalk tables and excellent variety of gins, just waiting to be stirred into an icy cocktail glass.
Royal Boucherie, Old City
Lean into the ‘50s businessman vibes of a martini and do lunch at Royal Boucherie. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. order an entrée from the lunch menu and you can get a $2 martini – gin, vodka, or one of their variations including the Gibson, made with house-brined onions.
Butcher and Singer, Center City
Hit Butcher and Singer for your old-school dirty martini – made table side by black-coated waiters who leave the shaker on your table to keep your drink full, and topped with plenty of blue cheese olives that cut an oil slick across the surface of the icy liquid.
View this post on Instagram
The Good King Tavern, Old City
At The Good King Tavern, bartenders stir Suze, a bitter and earthy French aperitif made with gentian root, into their house martinis along with gin and two types of vermouth. The result is a martini with a citrus backbone and an herbaceous richness not always found in the classic version.
Southwark Restaurant, Queen Village
If you find yourself leaning toward gin martinis, check out Southwark, where one of the best gin collections in the city means nearly endless combinations of martinis – let the knowledgeable staff guide you through their offerings, then sit back and trust you’re in good hands.
Oyster House, Center City
At Oyster House, the bar staff blends their own gin to accentuate the botanicals, and makes their own dry vermouth to stir in. Here, you’ll learn why a martini is a classic accompaniment for a dozen oysters – the salt from the brine hits your palate just right to keep you going back for sip after sip.
For an easier-drinking cocktail, Townsend’s Reverse Vodka Martini combines white vermouth, green chartreuse, orange and lavender bitters, plus vodka for a drink that won’t knock you out before your dinner.
The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company, Rittenhouse
By now, you’ve probably developed an opinion about your martinis. So has The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company, where they make only one type: a gin martini with Dolin dry vermouth and Cocchi Torino – no olives or onions available.