There is no better way to end the day in the City of Brotherly Love than with a stiff drink in hand at the coziest bars in Philadelphia. No, you don't need an excuse to stop by these local gems: sure, most boast warm fireplaces ideal for winter, but who doesn't like a secluded, tucked-away destination in the dead of summer as well?
Enjoy craft cocktails, delicious, frothy beers and wines of every variety at all these bars, found in neighborhoods across the city, sometimes tucked away behind the best restaurants in Philadelphia or in unassuming underground locales. Cheers!
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in Philadelphia
Coziest bars in Philadelphia
Nick Elmi’s Old City debut is a collaborative effort between the Top Chef winner and Philly bar royalty, David Frank and Stephen Simons. A selection of raw bar offerings and housemade charcuterie are complemented by snacks and larger plates, all graced with Elmi’s signature French touch. The bi-level leather and wood dining room is warmed by a fireplace, making for the ideal place to share a few plates, a couple of cocktails and a bottle from the natural-leaning wine list.
You have to slip down a nondescript alleyway around the corner from Rittenhouse Square to access this sexy speakeasy-inspired cocktail den. Once inside, you’ll find a dimly lit, intimate room decked with plush booths, nude portraits on the walls and ample seating at the bar. The winter cocktail menu includes a lineup of creative artisanal drinks such as Love on the Rum, made with rye, rum, brown butter maple syrup, apple juice and egg yolk; Goonies Never Say Rye, made with rye, curacao, lemon and pistachio orgeat; and the Cheese Louise, a concoction of rye, apple brandy, quince and ricotta. If nothing on the list suits you, tell your bartender what you’re in the mood for and they’ll be happy to whip you up something special.
With the nicest front-door greeters in town and bartenders who are more than happy to explain the esoteric ingredients that pepper their extensive cocktail menu, this subterranean Rittenhouse speakeasy feels like the fanciest neighborhood bar—just with seriously inventive drinks. Candlelit tables, corner booths and low ceilings make for a cozy atmosphere that’ll have you ordering another round. But be forewarned: These delicious cocktails are boozy AF.
Kitschy literary touches—like the page-covered globe chandeliers, menus pasted into hardcover books and bookshelf-patterned wallpaper—are offset by sophisticatedly presented, well-executed drinks at this three-story Gayborhood bar. Perch at the modern downstairs bar, lounge on the second-story couches or take a seat upstairs while you work your way through the (surprisingly affordable) artisanal cocktail list.
Whether you prefer your scotch straight or have a hankering for an old-fashioned, the brown liquor selection at the Library Bar is top-notch. Nestled within the Rittenhouse Hotel, the Library Bar exudes the kind of quiet sexiness that you want in a luxe hotel bar experience. And yes, bibliophiles can browse the bar’s small library, so don’t be scared to show up alone for a stiff nightcap and a leisurely read by the front-room fire.
If the lush urban jungle flanking the wooden doors of the Dandelion don’t immediately make you feel at home, there’s no doubt the crackling fireplace, long beer list and soul-warming hamburgers will. Drinking at Stephen Starr’s gastropub is like drinking in your English grandma’s cottage, if she were hip in that effortlessly haphazard way that the Dandelion’s perfected with its red-leather banquettes, floral curtains and rugged wooden tables. Stop by for afternoon tea for an elegant spread of boozy classic cocktails and tiers of sweets and sandwiches.
Vegetarian cocktail snobs, welcome home. This Center City spot, with its carmelized eggplant bao buns and (almost) too-pretty-to-drink cocktails, is perfect when you’re feeling indulgent (or want to impress your favorite vegan). It’s got an intimate, sexy vibe with glittering chandeliers, knickknacks galore, cozy seating and the coolest name we’ve ever heard. Hot tip: Happy hour (Mon–Thu 4–7pm, Fri 4–6pm) here is generous, with a housemade punch and zucchini “crab cake” sliders that can easily make for an early-bird meal.
Jose Garces’s redo of Bookbinder’s boasts a menu that embraces retro classics from starters like shrimp remoulade and parker house rolls to crisp wedge salads and steak oscar topped with creamy crab hollandaise. Over at the bar, you’ll find a menu boasting Prohitibion-era cocktail creations, wines by the bottle and glass and a rotating list of beers on draft alongside options in bottles and cans.
Other than the ornate iron door, there’s no sign that lets you know that this speakeasy-type bar exists in the middle of Chinatown. Ring the bell and ask to be let in, but make sure you’re dressed appropriately—meaning no jeans or tennis shoes. It’s cash-only and there are no cell phones allowed inside, but rumor has it they serve the best Pisco sour in town.
When you’ve reached the linen closet and can’t go any further—go just a little further. It’s there you’ll finally find Elbow Lane, Harp & Crown’s hidden basement bar and bowling alley, in all its funky, vintage-inspired glory. The bar boasts a wide selection of seating (bar stools, tables, booths, couches and arm chairs) and a curated selection of charcuterie, cocktails and pizza all in a warm, relaxing atmosphere that’s only interrupted by the occasional sound of falling pins.
If you want to feel like you’re having drinks at home but want your cocktails expertly crafted and your surroundings elegantly eclectic, 1 Tippling Place is the place to be. The atmosphere here is warm, the furniture mismatched and the drinks strong. Their seasonal offerings are quirky but approachable, so you don’t have to be a cocktail connoisseur to feel comfortable. And if you’re interested in an end-of-weekend nightcap, check out their Sunday happy hour specials from 10pm to midnight.
You don’t have to be a discerning Francophile to fall in love with this Bella Vista creperie and its delightfully old-school bar. From the decadent crepes and classic cocktails to the tin ceiling and roaring fireplace, Beau Monde is a date night dream spot. Be sure to check out the sparkling wine selection if you’re looking to celebrate—it’s short but bursting with some of the best bubbly in town—and it’s well-priced, too.
Hipsters do homey with this Kensington restaurant/bar. A concrete fireplace, grade school chairs, a long bar and large front windows make Martha a welcoming neighborhood bar for the local discerning set. The inventive hoagies pair well with the mile-long beer list and the draft list includes cocktails, wine and kombucha. Hit up Martha on a Monday night, when happy hour often includes complimentary booze from local businesses.
Ever wish you could throw back a few beers with Ernest Hemingway at a glamorously bohemian bar back in the roaring twenties? While you can’t bring Bumby back from the dead, you can get the next best thing at Sassafrass, a charming little drinking hole right in the heart of historic Old City. Chat up the handsome Irish bartenders while they mix you a classic cocktail, Instagram yourself in the bathroom (which is equipped with a couch) and cuddle up with your sweetheart—or a budding literary hero—at the lamplit bar.
Besides endless skating at this charming rink in the shadow of City Hall, this year’s Wintergarden features the Rothman Institute Cabin, where you can cozy up with seasonal cocktails, craft beer and light bites through February 25.
Even if you’re there on a chaotic Saturday night, there’s something inherently warm about this popular Fishtown institution. The Johnny Brenda’s crowd, while often massive and rowdy, is cool and welcoming. Same goes for the long wood bar, red painted walls and even redder neon lighting. Come for the wide selection of local craft beers and inventive vegan eats, stay for the cozy vibe and neighborhood feel.
It says it right there on the sign hanging out front: Murph’s Bar is “a comfortable place to be.” The Irish pub has all the charm of a well-loved dive with the hint of something slightly more upscale—we’re talking PBR and Aperol Spritz, truffle ravioli and mozzarella sticks, exposed brick walls and taxidermied animal heads. You’ll find longtime Fishtown residents and 30-something transplants cozied up together at the copper penny bar, the Elvis Presley lamps casting a warm glow on their chef-made pasta and bottled beers. Stop by the ATM before you check out this study in cool contradictions—this old-school joint is cash-only.
Pronounced “hoo-guh,” hygge is the Danish concept of simply enjoying life‘s pleasures. So what does that mean for drinking at this industrial-style Fairmount brewpub? Lots of plush, mismatched seating options to cozy up with your crew, and an excess of exposed brick, textured wood walls, original art and worn rugs. While the cocktail and wine menus are a bit on the standard side, the adventurous, house-brewed beer offerings more than make up for it.