The beauty of turning 21 is the sheer safety in knowing you are guaranteed access to the adult world of alcohol, sophistication, and cocktail party talk. The ability to present your shiny, laminated, and real license to enter is one that should not be taken lightly. And with this ability comes ample opportunity to explore the world of concoctions that reside across the city of Philadelphia.
What’s most enticing about this city, however, is not necessarily the popular bars or restaurants that often appear on social media pages or Yelp search results. It’s the hidden gems, the more niche spots that you feel entitled to claim as your own because you discovered them. These unconventional locations to drink and have a wonderful time with friends and loved ones can serve as a backdrop to some of your most beloved memories and should not be so difficult to find. Street has compiled a list of the top four underrated yet glamorous places to grab a cocktail or a glass of pinot noir—and are ready to spill the secrets so that you may spill the spirits.
The Library Bar
Tucked inside the glamour of the Rittenhouse Hotel, the Library Bar is a dimly lit paradise for literature enthusiasts. There is a great expectation that you come dressed to the nines, and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to overhear the conversations of the hotel attendees who live fascinating lives. Seating extends beyond the bar into a small alcove behind the hotel lobby, and holds tables of up to four. Featured on the menu is the apex of sophistication—the classic Old Fashioned, aged bottles of red wine, and a perfect coffee cocktail are some of the highlights. Put on your favorite vintage outfit, grab a friend, and channel your inner Hemingway at this luxurious experience.
Location: 210 W. Rittenhouse Square
Hours: Wednesdays through Saturdays 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Helium Comedy Club
The art of stand–up is one of the most enjoyable activities to experience. It's located right down the street from the family–owned restaurant Porcini; grab a lovely dinner and then head over to Helium Comedy Club to experience some of the best humor you’ve heard in a while. You can purchase tickets beforehand to ensure you and your party snag a table together, or if you’re just looking to have a great date with yourself, you can buy a ticket from the box office before the show starts. Grab one of the fun beverages off the club’s drink menu, as the waiters quietly sneak from table to table during the performances to ensure you always get your fill without having to miss the show. The menu has a wide variety of options, from your favorite IPA to a fun gin cocktail deemed “The Rittenhouse.”
Location: 2031 Sansom St.
Hours: Tuesdays through Sundays 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Ray’s "Happy Birthday" Bar
Here in Philadelphia, it is becoming more and more difficult to find a classic Americana bar that’s filled with locals and opened probably before you’ve woken up. Enter Ray’s "Happy Birthday" Bar, located in South Philly just down the street from Pat's and Geno's. The bar has been open since 1938, and as the name suggests, is birthday themed. Walk in on your special day, and you’ll be guaranteed a free shot. The blue and cream colored tiles pair nicely with the rainbow string lights on the wall to create an atmosphere that is both comforting and nostalgic. Take some of your favorite people to this spot, and not only will the drinks be significantly less expensive than what the city usually offers, but you may even be able to have a shot at the karaoke mic on a Friday night.
Location: 1200 E. Passyunk Ave.
Hours: Mondays through Sundays 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Kick Axe Throwing
Don’t let the requirement of a waiver scare you off from this Old City attraction. Kick Axe Throwing is a prime example of how to safely have an action–packed evening, where you and your friends can select a time slot to throw axes at a target in hopes of scoring the most points. Following a thorough tutorial from a trained professional, the game is great to play with larger groups of people, so that when you’re not playing you can grab a well–mixed drink from the bar near the entrance. The walls don humorous neon–lit signs and the mood of the venue radiates cozy yet photogenic, in a manner that ensures you will want to document the experience. Relax, grab an axe, and practice your throwing skills for the next time you want to impress someone on a date.
Location: 232 Market St.
Hours: Wednesdays through Sundays 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Sharing a drink with a loved one doesn’t have to be so traditional, and Philadelphia has plenty of places to assure that. Whether it be a literary fantasy or a classic dose of Americana, visit one of these four places and settle into an evening spent with high and reasonably priced spirits.