Philly: Checking Out The Franklin Bar and More
When we got to Philly, we had dinner at Vernick and then went over to The Franklin Bar for after dinner drinks. We were met by a door guy who asked if we wanted to go downstairs or upstairs. He explained the downstairs was a little bit more classic while the newish upstairs was casual. We opted for the classic bar which only had a few seats at the bar. We ended up at a side table hoping seats would eventually open at the bar.
The menu is very extensive. I decided to keep on my agave love train and got the Hidden in Plain Sight, a cocktail that mixed mezcal with gin and two different amari as well as two different vermouths. Yet everything was very well balanced. My friend went after the Autumn Milk Punch which she liked.
The bar was fairly quiet on a Thursday night. A group of women showed up and were seated next to us. They were very loud and demanded odd vodka drinks (like vodka, orange juice and splenda). I admired our server’s restraint and giggled a bit when he asked the women if they had been to the bar before and knew what kind of bar it was (craft bar). They insisted they did and knew what they wanted. Perhaps they should have gone upstairs.
Autumn Milk Punch – 151 proof rum, bourbon, brandy, cinnamon, cloves, apples, pears, Darjeeling tea, clarified milk, lemon
Hidden in Plain Sight – mezcal, gin, Cynar, Amaro Sfumato, Punt e Mes, Cocchi Torino
We came back to The Franklin a couple nights later. I wanted a night cap and we decided to try the upstairs bar which is much more casual and a lot brighter. I had the Chaos Theory and also a Fernet-Branca to help settle my stomach after a huge meal.
The Chaos Theory is a great whiskey sour variation with hibiscus.
Chaos Theory – rye, hibiscus, egg white, lemon
Is the Franklin the best bar in Philly? I’d have to sit at the bar downstairs to make that proper assessment. The bar manager did tell me he managed both the upstairs and downstairs. It must be interesting to manage two very different bars.
We were looking for a bar to have drinks at before a concert and stumbled into Smokin’ Betty’s. We had tried to hit a couple of craft bars but they were all packed and we didn’t think we had that much time to wait around (it later turned out we should have just stuck with one spot since it took forever before the concert started).
We headed upstairs where it was more lively and it was filled with doctors and nurses from the hospital across the street. So many tequila shots…
I just wanted some scotch and had a Macallan 12 while my friend tried the Bumble and Bulleit drink. It was pretty off and she later wished she had gotten something else. Still, it’s a cool neighborhood bar and I bet it’s plenty of fun (after a few shots or neat scotches). Later I told my friend you have to learn how to read a bar. If the locals are just doing shots, it’s best to stick to such.
Bumble & Bulleit – Bulleit bourbon, amaretto, honey
Smokin’ Betty’s116 S 11th St., Philadelphia, PA 19107 [ no photos ]
I had compiled a list of bars to visit in Philly and Hop Sing Laundromat kept showing up. I hadn’t any hopes about getting in. It seemed like a very quirky spot with a lot of rules. And drinking should be simple. I want to give you money to make me good drinks. I think this is a fairly reasonable expectation.
There were three folks in front of us when we got there but one had forgotten his ID. Make sure they have your IDs. I read some reviews later that mentioned Hop Sing takes your ID away from view. I just assumed they scanned them to make sure they’re valid IDs. In any case, two went in without their friend.
I hadn’t read any reviews before hand, I let my friend handle that part. She did mysteriously mention something about shoes. And it seems Hop Sing has a dress code and they pay attention to your shoes. We must have passed some inner style test and was let into the front room where the security guy told us the rules. Patrons aren’t allowed to make any phone calls or take pictures but we could use our phones to google something.
We opted for the bar where I waded through a bunch of menus. They had a current list, best of list and yet another little list. It’s a two-drink minimum per person. Oh, and it’s cash only. The two of us liked all four drinks we had. Since I wasn’t taking photos or jotting notes down, I can’t really tell you what they were except I tried one drink from the current list and the best of list. I stuck with relatively simple whiskey cocktails. The bartenders are young and very personable. We chatted about their main rival, The Franklin. Of course the Hop Sing guys said their drinks were better.
We had a great time and then when we left after getting directions to the restaurant we were heading to for dinner.
Overall, it’s very interesting drinking in Philly. I would have loved to explore more. Maybe some of the newer craft cocktail bars that opened up in the last couple of years to compare them to the venerable Franklin Bar.
© The Minty 2017