Philadelphia’s Signature Cocktail: The Philly Flyer

It all started with a thought: “…while plotting our assault on the bars of Love City,” we wrote on Foobooz back in September, “it occurred to us that one thing that’s missing from the alcoholic landscape is a true Philadelphia cocktail. Something that just screams Philly with the force of a thousand cheesesteaks.” 

How was it that a city as drinky as Philadelphia didn’t already have one? Yes, there are some historic native cocktails. And certainly, one can make a case for Philly being the shot-and-a-beer capital of the entire booze-sodden universe. But one thing we didn’t have was a modern drink designed specifically for Philadelphia and Philadelphians. Until now. 

Setting out to right this egregious wrong, we decided to put the challenge to the city itself. We made calls, collected e-mails and ran a contest online at We came up with a list of 70-odd potential Philadelphia cocktails, winnowed that down to 55, then 23, then six, and, when we got to that point, threw a party where everyone got to sample the best efforts of the finalists (both pros and passionate amateurs) to decide which drink would go down in the history books as Philly’s official cocktail. 

That drink is the Philly Flyer, a gently sour gin-based concoction that came to us by way of Rick Fitzgerald—a complete amateur who beat out professional tenders from some of the best bars in town to take the prize. According to Rick, the Philly Flyer is a loose riff on the classic Aviation (for “all our high-flying teams,” he says), but also “a bittersweet cocktail in honor of everything that is bitter and sweet about this tremendous town.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.