You won’t find Philadelphia restaurants and bars closing the shutters and drawing the blinds when winter rolls around. When the weather gets chilly, the best of Philly’s eateries throw back the curtains to open up bar menus to include spectacular new holiday cocktails. These special concoctions of holiday spirits only come around once a year, so get them while you can.
2 Rector St.
Philadelphia, PA 19127
“Toto, I don’t think we’re in Philly anymore.” That’s what you may be thinking when you enter Bourbon Blue, a hometown restaurant with a New Orleans twist. The bartenders here have come up with such creative holiday cocktails that patrons requested that they be available year round. Check out the Cider Crush, made with gold tequila and fresh apple cider with a cinnamon-sugar rim, or the Spiced Pear Mojito, spiced rum, cinnamon and pear syrup, mint, ginger ale and apple juice. Better yet, try the Pomegranate-Cinnamon Old Fashioned, a blast of bourbon, cointreau and syrup muddled with pomegranate, cherries, orange and cinnamon.
700 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
It’s like snuggling down in a “Brady Brunch” episode at Jones. The restaurant’s decor, including a see-through fireplace, stone walls and Jetson-like swivel chairs, may take its cue from 1970s sitcoms, but the 70s didn’t have anything close to the great food and seasonal cocktails that this place has. If you have a craving for gingerbread, substitute the high-calorie sweet for a highly charged Rhubarb Mule, a marriage of vodka, rhubarb and house-made ginger beer. Also heavy on the holiday cheer is the S’More Martini, a concoction of hazelnut liquor and dark and white creme de cacao with a chocolate graham cracker crust rim.
McGillin’s Olde Ale House
1310 Drury St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Open since 1860 and having the distinction as the oldest continuously operating tavern in the city doesn’t mean McGillin’s Olde Ale House is behind the times. It’s anything but, especially when it comes to outside-the-box holiday cocktails. Snowshoes made with butterscotch liquor and hot chocolate, and hot spice apple cider charged up with Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum, are festive favorites. Thirsty bar-goers can also try the pub’s Cinnamon Toast Crunch, shots of Fireball whiskey and RumChata served on the rocks with a dash of cinnamon.
701 S. 4th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Another restaurant riding high on the farm-to-plate bandwagon is Southwark. Not only does it deliver unique, fresh, organic dishes, but also a vast array of craft cocktails. The appropriately named winter drink the Dark ‘n Stormy — a Gosling’s rum, lime and ginger beer trio — is available year-round. The seasonal holiday drink roundup features a grenadine, apple brandy, lime juice recipe that’s humorously called Rudolph’s-nose-bright-red Jack Rose.
White Dog Cafe
3420 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
White Dog’s progressive and socially conscious business model is not the only thing that makes this restaurant such a success story. Local farmers deliver fresh, organic ingredients to the eatery’s door each week for a cutting-edge menu that changes seasonally. That goes for the bar menu, too. Heart-warming hot toddies are made with straight-from-the-orchard apple cider. The Pear and Hazelnut Martini, Cinnamon Fig Sidecar and Spiced Apple Cocktail are also sure to put you in the holiday spirit.
Susan DeFeo has been a professional writer since 1997. She served as a community events columnist for New Jersey’s “Cape May County Herald” for more than a decade. A writer for numerous online publications, Susan has covered health, fitness, beauty and travel, all subjects that are near and dear to her as a married mother of seven children. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.