Where We’re Drinking Right Now: The Best New Bars in Philly

The new wine bars, cocktail spots, and breweries you should check out next.

Solar Myth / Photograph by Chris Sikich

You probably have a long list of reasons why you haven’t been drinking anywhere other than your neighborhood bar lately. Some of these excuses might be about convenience. Another might be: “Crossing the city to pay $17 for a shitty espresso martini? No thanks!” We get it.

But Philly’s bar scene is growing, and there are plenty of exciting new places where the bartenders don’t yet know how often you wear that one long-sleeve shirt. We’ve scoped out as many recently opened bars as possible, all so that you can find a great place to drink. (Admittedly a tough gig, we take our work very seriously). Here’s what’s new and cool — or chaotic but fun — in Philly’s drinking world right now.

Solar Myth, South Philly
This experimental jazz club in the old Boot & Saddle space — operated by Fountain Porter owner Evan Clancy and Ars Nova Workshop founder Mark Christman — manages to shed any pretension typically associated with the semi-esoteric musical genre. What’s left is just plain cool and easy-feeling: a dim-lit, concrete-floored bar, vinyl playing through the speakers, and a wine list that even the most insufferable wine people in your life will drool over. Bring a few friends on a Friday and split a bottle of something nicer than what you might usually order, or stop by for a live show. Then come back the next day for coffee and a slice of tomato pie (from Mighty Bread, no less). Solar Myth opens at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends, and stays open until 2 a.m. every day. 1131 South Broad Street.

Grace & ProperBella Vista
Grace & Proper’s corner space has been slammed all three times we’ve been there. At noon, it packs with groups of friends day drinking. At night, dates look at each other with we-haven’t-had-sex-yet googly eyes and share plates of Portuguese-inspired snacks like boquerones or thin, crispy tomato pinsas. Despite the cocktail menu flaunting ingredients like 24 karat gold leaf and white truffles, the place is really quite casual and neighborhood-y. Stick to the straightforward drinks, like a refreshing porto tonico, or a glass of wine. Just prepare for a tight squeeze. At its best, the tiny room feels magnetic. If you can’t snag a seat, though, you’ll gain a new appreciation for those anchovies marinated in vinegar. 941 South 8th Street.

Grace & Proper / Photograph by Eddy Marenco

Rec & Royal, Center City
Rec & Royal is not dissimilar to an underground Chuck E. Cheese for people who want to get wasted. If that scares you, scroll on. If not, we appreciate your chaos-affirming attitude.
After you pay your $5 cover fee and descend the stairs here, you’ll see a map guiding you through the various karaoke rooms, bar and lounge spaces, and gaming areas. Unless you have your heart set on financing a $200 per-hour private karaoke session, we’d suggest hanging in the public karaoke zone (which was almost completely deserted on a Friday night at 11:30 p.m. recently). A talented host will belt her way through “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood in the lull between plebeian performances, all while you drink your Miller High Life or a strong gin & tonic and munch on an empanada. Come if you’re looking for Center City karaoke in a pinch (!?), or if you’re rolling deep with a group of friends who don’t need anyone else around in order to have a fun time. 111 South 17th Street.

Noche, Center City
Right next to the entrance to Drinker’s, where 22-year-olds dance to Shania Twain, there’s a black door. That door opens to reveal a staircase, which will take you up to a room that would have been immensely chic in 2008 (hazy mirrors as the main visual element, an unthinkable number of chandeliers, etc.). It’s here that you can drink a classic cocktail in a velvet chair and maybe even opt for caviar service at 1 a.m. on a Saturday. Yes, some of those nouns can be hard to come by during late-night hours in Center City. So if you’re aiming to have a deluxe evening, you’ll enjoy Noche and its Martinez cocktail — balanced with gin, vermouth and Luxardo — or a Naked & Famous. Drinks are pricy ($18-$22), but sincerely well-made. 1901 Chestnut Street.

The Jim, East Passyunk
Fergus Carey and Jim McNamara’s South Philly corner spot feels like it’s been open for 20 years already. Maybe that’s because the only thing inside is a U-shaped bar, or the fact that there’s so little natural light. Or maybe the time-tested feel comes by way of some impressive garlic-soy chicken wings — fried twice so the exterior becomes jagged and crackly, and sticky enough to decimate any paper napkin in their path. But more likely, the Jim stands out because of its unseriousness about being taken seriously, the kind of “fuck it” attitude that so rarely hits at new places. You’ll choose from a list of beers on tap and a few cocktails, all labeled “jawn” plus a color. If you usually order Negronis, go for the “Pink Jawn,” with Beefeater, Campari, lemon and grapefruit. If pineapple daiquiris are more your speed, try the “Yellow Jawn.” 1701 South 8th Street.

A pint at the Jim / Photograph by Ted Nghiem

Far East Descendant, Chinatown
If Philly was Miami, there would be rooftop bars like Far East Descendant opening all over town — places with TikTok hype and purple cocktails called “Mistress of the Sea.” But this isn’t Florida (thank God), so instead of fighting with a bachelorette party about who gets the seats with ocean views, you’ll hang on Chinatown’s only roof deck and drink inventive Cantonese-inspired drinks and snacks. Some of the cocktails play around with classic Chinese spirits like baijiu, and there are plenty of large-format snacking boards if you get hungry. Heads up: Weeknights stay relatively calm here, but weekends get rowdier thanks to all the Temple seniors who undoubtedly saw the place on social media. 251 North Clarion Street.

Carbon Copy, West Philly
Carbon Copy took over the old Dock Street West location and remodeled the place with a terrazzo bar and pastel-colored stools. Owners Kyle Wolak and Brendon Boudwin worked at Tired Hands before splitting off to open their own concept where they serve not just their own beer, but also their own wine (produced at a facility in Kensington). The beer is the real draw, especially Carbon Copy’s Belgian-style Mote and a pilsner made with traditional step-mashing methods. Bring your kids during the day; it’s certainly a family-friendly environment. 701 South 50th Street.

Andra Hem, Rittenhouse
You could watch an Architectural Digest YouTube video or you could go to Andra Hem, sit on a blue barstool, and live one out yourself. This Rittenhouse bar, whose name translates to “Second Home” in Swedish, is outfitted in vintage Scandinavian furniture and patterned walls that would give a Vera Bradley bag self-esteem issues. If you’re looking for a new place to meet up with someone in Center City, there is probably no option more polished right now. Though it’s worth mentioning that, in our experience so far, style seems to outmatch the fairly one-dimensional drinks we tried, like a tequila-based cocktail with lingonberry. But we’ll be back for more soon. 218 South 16th Street.

Four Humors Distilling, Kensington
This whiskey bar looks like the inside of a barrel. And the longer you sit here drinking, and the longer you think about it, the more meta it all feels. But it’s a good new option particularly for whiskey people who want to try unusual bourbon or rye. While Four Humors will have its own aged whiskey ready soon, for now, you can come here and drink plenty of interesting stuff, like a $13 flight of five whiskeys that were all made in Pennsylvania. 1712 North Hancock Street.

Cartesian Brewing, East Passyunk
In a city arguably overloaded with sleek breweries — the massive ones sporting QR codes, tall ceilings and double-wide strollers — Cartesian Brewing stands out as a charmingly lived-in reprieve. It’s the sort of neighborhood beer spot that looks like it was a mildly shady garage in the not-so-distant past, the ideal gathering spot for all sorts of East Passyunk drinkers who frankly don’t care about the trivia game happening up front. Here, your table is a recycled door, and the walls are covered in color-block art for sale. Order an “Amateur Cartography” — a West Coast-style IPA — or a Kolsch-style ale that smells a little like fruit and a little like bread, but not quite like fruit bread. 1326 East Passyunk Avenue.