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These Philly-Favorite Bars Have Reopened—and Are Serving Special Cocktails to Celebrate

center city cocktails leda and the swan

/ Saeed Ferguson

End your night on a high note with something sweet, strong or both. Two Philly-favorite cocktail bars have recently reopened, with stepped up COVID precautions and elevated drink menus, so it’s the perfect time to have a safe night out. Here are the cocktail bars (and their extra-special libations) you need to check out right now.

davida janae at leda and the swan

/ Saeed Ferguson

Leda and the Swan

Behind a tall door on Chestnut Street, a mythology-inspired hideaway mixes up cocktails under a dreamy flower ceiling. Leda and the Swan (1224 Chestnut Street) pays homage to mystical figures both fact and fiction with its name and cocktail menu. 

The swanky Center City mainstay attracts some impressive clientele. Pre-COVID, local fashion and lifestyle influencer Davida Janae of Vida Fashionista spent some time sampling cocktails at the location. She sampled the Queen Laveau, which nods to influential 18th-century voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau and her native New Orleans. In the style of a true Sazerac—a drink synonymous with the Big Easy and one of America’s oldest cocktails—includes the traditional absinthe wash. This time, though, Bulleit Bourbon subs in for the usual cognac. Stirred with amaretto and bitters, the result is pretty magical.

“It’s kind of sexy, it’s sweet and it’s got a little kick,” Davida says. “All of the flavors mix really well together.” Served in a chilled glass straight up, the drink shares another trait with a Sazerac: “It’s not diluted, so you’re getting the flavors as they are,” Davida says. “It’s just smooth.” 

Fortunately, Leda and the Swan brought back the drink—but just for this month. Swing by on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night. “It’s a good way to end your night,” Davida says. “It would be perfect for if you want to celebrate something—or celebrate life just because.” 

/Theresa Regan

Germantown Garden

Located in Northern Liberties, Germantown Garden (1031 Germantown Ave), is an indoor-outdoor restaurant with a focus on freshness in every sense of the word—so they’re perfect for that unpredictable March weather.

The garden has mastered the art of adaptation since the pandemic. Around the former pool area, they have positioned what they refer to as igloos, which are cozy, heated dining bubbles. The igloos seat four and are sanitized after each meal, creating a safe dining experience for each customer. Customers can also opt to sit outside directly in the sun, or socially distanced indoors. “Optionality has been great for us,” general manager Ryan Fenton says.

They’re having fun with the changes. The now-empty pool creates visual interest with ping pong balls and illuminated spheres, and the entire space is strung with lights. Combined with the glassy igloos, the result is a bright and dreamy ambience—so customers can temporarily escape reality but still remain safe.

One thing that has never changed is Germantown Garden’s emphasis on fresh ingredients; their cocktail menu features quality fruits and herbs like mint, which are paired with a variety of syrups to deliver some serious flavor. The drink options are both fresh and classic, paying respect to timeless combinations.

The “Smashley” is a Germantown Garden special that deserves a spotlight. It includes Bulleit bourbon, fresh strawberry and fresh nectarine muddled with vanilla syrup. The result is a refreshing burst of both sweet and tart flavors. 

It all goes toward Germantown Garden’s focus on facilitating lasting memories for each of their visitors, despite the obstacles at hand.

“Making that personal connection again is something super special for us,” Fenton says. 

Try these signature bourbon cocktails this month only at Leda and the Swan and Germantown Garden.