It doesn’t matter if you like your martini with gin or vodka, dry or James Bond-like (with Gordon’s Gin, vodka and Kina Lillet, as seen in the novel and movie, “Casino Royale”), there’s one waiting for you in a Philadelphia bar. Read on for the top martini bars in Philadelphia.
1421 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Amuse is a French bar and brasserie at the Le Meridien offering an array of traditional French fare and traditional cocktails such as Manhattans, cosmopolitans and, of course, a fantastic vodka martini (with Finlandia, Dry Vermouth, Martini & Rossi, regular or stuffed green olives). This sleek bar also offers a number of rum, gin, tequila, whiskey and vodka drinks. Snacks are available while you sip your drink, like the pretzel nuggets and roasted mixed nuts, along with the full menu of French cuisine.
Continental Martini Bar
138 Market St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
As the original Continental (its second location is near Rittenhouse) and Stephen Starr’s first restaurant (its been pouring drinks since 1995), this martini bar is adorned with giant green olive lamps and is a favorite among contemporaries for both traditional and non-traditional martinis alike. Try the classic Continental martini with Ketel One vodka and dry vermouth, or go with the ‘18th & Sansom’ if it’s more to your liking. It’s made with Dewar’s, honey, lemon and rosewater.
4411 Main St.
Philadelphia, PA 19127
If you’re into fruity and sweet martinis, Derek’s is for you. Its candy martinis consist of a variety of candy flavors infused with vodka: Swedish Fish, Starburst, Skittles, Jolly Ranchers, Nerds and more. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, try one of this Manayunk bar’s martini mixes. The double lychee martini, for example, is made with Absolut peach vodka, soho lychee liqueur, lychee juice and cranberry juice. Come in during happy hour for half off all drinks. Other specials are held throughout the week: the white grape martini is $6 on Wednesdays and a pomegranate or blue raspberry martini is only $5 on Thursdays.
Southwark Restaurant & Bar
701 S. 4th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Southwark sources all of its ingredients from local farmers, creating some of the freshest and most flavorful tastes you can find in the city, drinks included. This bar boasts a long list of gin and rye, which are used as the base for most of its cocktails. Try the Aviation (with gin, crème de violette, lemon and maraschino) or a Hanky Panky, made with gin, sweet vermouth and Fernet-Branca. Classic with a twist, you’re sure to find a martini to please your palate here.
1229 Spruce St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Vallani is a stylish and swanky club located near the Avenue of the Arts and is perfect for those who enjoy vodka-based martinis. Don’t leave without first trying its dirty and stuffed martini, a drink concocted with Death’s Door Vodka and topped with blue cheese-stuffed olives. Another option is the cucumber martini with cucumber-infused Skyy vodka, St. Germain, fresh lime juice and a cucumber wheel. Pair your martini with Mediterranean and Latin-styled tapas, like the spicy pulled chicken empanadas or the crispy shiitake polenta.
Kelly Neilson is a freelance writer living and working in Philadelphia. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.