drinkPGH drinks Philly!
So I found myself in Philadelphia for the weekend and surprise, drank some awesome cocktails! I’m itching to tell you a little about what the east coast of Pennsylvania has to offer, in case you find yourself there once, twice or a few times a year.
My first stop after a long but cheap ride on the Megabus… Parc, a French brasserie located on the edge of Rittenhouse Square. Decorated so elegantly with white lights on a brisk Friday night, it was the best place to have a warm dinner preceded with a soul-warming cocktail. The restaurant was decked in garland and lights with red poinsettias placed thoughtfully around the interior, surely the best place in town for a first date or rekindling with a lost love. Don’t rule it out for business meetings, birthdays or bachelorette parties, you’ll have just as much fun in the dim lights at small tables.
The bar was elegantly manned by a team in white jackets embracing the tradition of the cocktail and it felt like a martini was calling my name. There are always experimental drinks combining old and new flavors, but sometimes you find yourself in a setting that insists on choosing classic over contemporary. Hendricks Gin martini, with a splash of St. Germaine and a lime twist… Class in a glass. If you’re not a gin drinker, Hendricks is a brand you should try, slight cucumber essence and not the herbal or dry gins you might have had before. Don’t be afraid to add a splash of you’re favorite liqueur, make it your drink!
If you want my recommendation for food, the onion soup gratinee will melt your soul and moules frites could bring you back to 2004 when Lille was the cultural capital of Europe and your first mussel experience got your bivalve pounding! (read exactly as is, no innuendos please). I’d feel comfortable putting my stamp of approval on the Beef Bourgogne or 1/2 Roast Chicken; it seems like you can’t go wrong here. Their wine selection will impress the sommelier at heart and in training, you may even get a table-side tasting session if you play your business cards right.
After a welcome meal, it was time for an intimate gathering of friends and I had been asked to provide a recipe to shake things up a bit (see what I did there?). I’m kind of honored in these situations that people trust my novice opinion of libations, but at the same time always willing to give it a shot. Here, my web friends, are the details of the cocktail in question…
1.0 oz Bulleit Rye Whiskey
0.5 oz Drambuie
0.5 oz SNAP by AITA
2 dashes cherry bitters
shake, strain, garnish with orange twist
(red Solo cups are also accepted as “stemless” glassware in these occasions)
Wake up. Coffee. Brunch. Discuss what may or may not have happened the night before.
This trip also marked the end of a much anticipated wait for Morimoto. Enter Saturday night… Now I don’t have the drinks’ ingredients in their entirety memorized and sometimes you’re focused on other more important things in life, so bear with me as I try and recap the beauty of the service and at least a photo of them…
Do yourself a favor, if you find that you have the time, wait… Make the time to enjoy a nine course tasting menu from the chef. If you want to splurge, they also have an accompanying wine or cocktail pairing with each course. Relish the time with the person across from you and talk about every dish as it slides in and the server explains the unique ingredients and methods of preparation. As we reached the end of the tasting, I couldn’t decide on a second cocktail, coffee, dessert wine, etc., so instead the server suggested I choose an alternate dessert from the menu which joined all these loose threads into the perfect knot. A coffee jelly floating in whiskey topped with vanilla ice cream. Get it! This is a place to spend a few hours of your life, do it at least once.
If you aren’t wearing a watch and want to continue a night that’s already been more than wonderful, walk up to Race Street between 10th and 11th. You won’t see any marquee, flags, or door, but you will find an iron gate with a doorbell. Be ready for an experience. Press the button! I’m hoping your timing is as perfect as ours. A bouncer in a suit takes a quick glance from the stoop above the gate and asks, “how many?” If there’s room, Lee will come out and greet you. This dapper older gentleman is your key to a trip back in time; follow him into a waiting room with a shoe-shine bench, photos of royalty and commoners framed exquisitely around the walls and dim lighting. Listen to the rules, and follow them lest you want the boot into the street like an unnamed TV news anchor received prior this year. (playing footsie is probably ok since the tablecloths are long enough) I’m not giving you anything else from my trip to Hop Sing Laundromat, you need to see for yourself. There’s a reason I don’t have photos from this outing.
Ninety years after last night you could find yourself in University City in an attic bar above an Ethiopian restaurant run by a mustache wielding, vigorous shaking, bartender with the knowledge and skills to make you chuckle at least twice while he mixes your cocktails.
“Two whiskey drinks of your choice!”
Get a Paper Plane if you want a tart Apperol and amaro blended with bourbon. In the mood for a darker night? The Holland Tunnel blends your manhattan with Antica Formula, a rich red vermouth dating back to late 1700s Turin, Italy. If you guessed our location as Fiume, you win! Have a seat at one of 24 chairs in this small space that begs for close quarters and making new friends from every walk of life. It may be a fire hazard or due to a previous unruly customer, but I would only change the flicker of the tea lights from battery powered to real deal flame.
Beginning in the mid 1700s Italy, a sweeter fortified wine combining any number of additives including roots, bark, flowers, seeds, herbs, and spices. Jumping on the band wagon about 50 years later…France. They began to offer a dryer version of the wine. Think about it like this:
Ordering a dry martini today will ultimately not change the type of vermouth, but use less. Want to impress? Order a ‘Perfect’ Manhattan for equal parts dry and sweet vermouths.
My last day in Philly (this was a long trip mind you, I did more than drink) I found myself pre-gaming like a true, classy thirty something… at a wine bar for happy hour! Tria is easy on the eyes and wallet during happy hour, $5 red, white, cheese, and two beer selections. The Carmenere from Chile was all herbal and eucalyptus-y and loves a good salume & cheese board to cozy up with (speaking about wine like this cuts the pretentious reputation it sometimes gets). Though I would say the French saison, Pyrus, from 4 Hands Brewing Co. with pear juice, white peppercorn and orange zest was my winning choice of the night! Nothing says “eat me with beer” quite like a pistachio herbed ricotta bruschetta drizzled with lavender honey! (I get it, noted; but that app. could change your night)
And so this ends my time in Philadelphia, PA, almost… Always end your trip at an open bar if possible. I know that option may not present itself every time but really try. If you can find this bar in a roomful of great people with open arms, bonus! It’s of course hard in the morning to say goodbye to a city with so much to offer; I’ll be seeing you real soon. Thanks Philly! I truly miss you.