The Best Craft Cocktail Bars in Philadelphia

Philly doesn’t have the volume of cocktail specialists found in other cities, but the ranks are on the rise, and established bars continue to take risks. Other worthy options include 1 Tippling Place, an industry-friendly hang in Rittenhouse; and the Ranstead Room, a velvet painting-decorated lounge hidden behind Mexican restaurant El Rey.

  • 1

    a.bar

    Right off Rittenhouse Square, the AKA hotel’s slinky street-level bar is situated on one of the most photogenic corners in the city. But there’s personality bolstering those good looks. It’s run by a young and tight-knit crew that takes a collaborative approach to building the beverage program. Graying patricians in tie clips and funny hats share real estate with wine geeks, off-duty industry workers and people simply looking to plow through some oysters.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • natural wine
    • champagne
    • singles scene
    • lots of whiskey
    • lots of rum
    • lots of tequila / mezcal
    • oysters / raw bar
  • 2

    The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.

    Named after a business front run by Prohibition-era bootlegger Max “Boo Boo” Hoff, The Franklin is probably Philly’s most recognized cocktail bar, a beacon of erudite intoxication run by a fleet of whiz-kid drinkmakers. The dim, narrow subterranean lair—subsidized by a more casual upstairs room focused on traditional tiki drinks and service—is slight in size, meaning waits can stretch at premium times. The drinks, spirituous sticker shock be damned, are worth it.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • lots of whiskey
    • lots of rum
    • lots of tequila/mezcal
    • singles scene
    • tiki
  • 3

    Hop Sing Laundromat

    What awaits behind an unnerving steel gate in Chinatown, the one that looks like it was purloined from the set of The Game? That’d be Hop Sing, Philly’s most irreverent cocktail bar. Lorded over by mononymous proprietor Lê, the space is bizarre and beautiful, decorated with old paintings, expired liquor licenses, musty books and dramatic candelabras that look like they’re about to come to life and sing show tunes. Bartenders here distinguish themselves with simplicity, leaning on top-shelf spirits and squeezed-to-order fruit.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • lots of whiskey
    • lots of rum
    • lots of tequila/mezcal
  • 4

    ITV

    Originally developed as a classy waiting area for chef Nick Elmi’s hot-ticket Laurel next door, ITV—“In the Valley,” the English translation of its Lenape Indian “Passyunk” street address—has established itself as a go-to concept all its own. An elegant little room done up with dark tones and an eye-catching marble slab bar, it’s solid as a wine destination, but cocktails have their place, too; look for plenty of seasonal touches among the taut mixed-drink selection.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
  • 5

    Manatawny Still Works

    A relative newcomer to the city’s craft distilling scene, Manatawny is winning new fans via its centrally located spirits shop and tasting room, situated on South Philly’s hopping East Passyunk strip. Peruse the selection of simple cocktails built with their own products, including Keystone Whiskey and Hidden River Gin.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
  • 6

    Palizzi Social Club

    For nearly a century, the Filippo Palizzi Social Club cranked along quietly behind a heavy unmarked door, a time-warp hangout exclusively for immigrant men from Vasto, Italy (Philly features a large population from the region of Abruzzo). Now, chef and South Philly native Joey Baldino, a descendant of the late proprietor, has updated the space and opened it to the public—sort of. You need to hold a membership card, or be buddies with a card-carrying patron of the place, to get in. Once you do, however, everything behind the cash-only bar is all yours—the menu features unfussy and masterfully executed renditions on ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • live music
    • bar food
    • full menu
  • 7

    Philadelphia Distilling

    Established in 2005, Philly Distilling led the wave of local craft distilleries that’s methodically washed over the city in the past decade-plus, building a rep around bartender-beloved products like Bluecoat Gin and Vieux Carré Absinthe. A much newer notch in their belt is its 15,000-square-foot Fishtown outpost, part of a larger nightlife complex that features a concert venue, a comedy club and other attractions. The bar here is its own type of lure, offering an exclusive list of drinks that celebrate spirits produced on the premises.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • singles scene
  • 8

    Martha

    Whittled into an unassuming warehouse in Kensington, Martha is the lovingly appointed domain of Jon Medlinsky, a serious fermentation scholar with a puckish sense of humor. His fixation on all things local translates to beer, wine and cider lineups heavy on Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Bar manager Mike Landers stretches these borders slightly further with his spirituous meanderings. Taste through one of Philly's most interesting back bars (amari, mezcal, sotol), complemented by housemade liqueurs and a straightforward cocktail list. 

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • craft beer
    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
    • full menu
    • day drinking
    • outdoor/patio
    • lots of tequila/mezcal

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