Karina has spent a good amount of time in Philly so she became our tour guide on our recent day trip. After walking around the South Street area, we headed to the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. I couldn’t imagine two more different areas. South Street is super funky with murals covering every building and the most diverse crowd I’ve ever seen. Rittenhouse Square is more luxurious with fancy apartment buildings and gastropubs instead of dive bars.
It was one of their upscale bars that drew us to the neighborhood in the first place. Karina thought The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company made some of the most inventive drinks she had encountered so we made a beeline for the speakeasy. What makes this one unique is that it actually was a speakeasy during prohibition. And not just any speakeasy – it housed the largest alcohol ring in the country. If you’re gonna do it, do it right.
We arrived at 5:40, just 40 minutes after they opened and there was already a 30 minute wait. They don’t allow any more people than seats available, and when there are only about 50 chairs max (just a guess) they fill up quickly. I tried the Freddie’s Dead cocktail which included sarsaparilla – a flavor I’ve never had in food, much less in alcohol. It was more than herbal, it was root-y. I know that there’s no adjective for root flavor so root-y will just have to to do. Rooty tooty fresh and fruity.
Though this may surprise all of y’all who think I’m a complete lush, my favorite drink of the evening was actually Matt’s alcohol-free one. After Karina and I ordered our cocktails, the waiter turned to Matt who said he was going to pass for now. I’m not sure if the waiter realized that was because he would soon be driving us back, if he thought Matt was perhaps an alcoholic, or if he just didn’t want Matt to feel lonely without a drink in his hand. Whatever the reason, the waiter suggested Matt try one of their “sooo refreshing” mocktails. He approached the mocktail the same way he navigated us through the cocktail menu, asking Matt if he what flavors he preferred and building the drink around that. He came back with a drink (pictured on the left) of housemade ginger syrup, housemade raspberry syrup, lime juice, and pineapple juice. It was incredible. The ginger brought the drink back down to earth so you didn’t feel like you were drinking something in a tiki hut. We all talked about wanting it in gallon form to keep in our fridges.
If this bar was in New York it would be snoot central, but it manages to remain low-key even with their strict door policy. It’s not the place to meet new people as everyone sticks to their designated table, but it’s a great place to share creative drinks and intimate conversation with close friends.