In this city with strong working-class pride, dive bars and pubs are well-represented, but so are slick cocktail lounges, wine bars, craft breweries and gastropubs. Philly's Old City boasts the highest concentration of liquor licenses in the US after New Orleans. For LGBT nightspots, head to the 'Gayborhood’; look for the rainbow-trimmed street signs between Chestnut, Pine, Juniper and 11th Sts.
Craft Brewing & Distilling
America's oldest still-active brewery is Pennsylvania's Yuengling (www.yuengling.com), first brewed in Pottsville in 1829. The beer – which is a good one – is commonly available across the city, where it competes with a fast-growing number of craft beers.
Philly is also going back to its roots as a US center for alcohol production with new microbreweries such as Second District Brewing and Crime & Punishment Brewing Co joining established players Yards and Manayunk Brewing Company. Craft distilling of gin, rum, whiskey and vodka is also on the rise, with several distilleries open for tours and tastings on the weekends.
Parks on Tap is a roving beer garden that's a fun feature of Philly's spring and summer season. Go online to check which of the 23 different city parks it is located in during its 23-week run. As well as beer on tap, food and non-alcoholic drinks are also available.
Other great seasonal places to drink outdoors can be found along Penn's Landing and include Spruce Street Harbor Park and the new Cherry Street Pier. For a year-round beer garden check out Frankford Hall in Fishtown.
Speakeasy-style cocktail bars are all the rage in Center City with some taking their door policies way more seriously than others. Don't fret if you fail to pass muster as there's no shortage of cocktail bars with a welcoming vibe and fun themes.
Coffee & Tea
Philly has been riding the third wave of coffee for quite some time. Artisan coffee roasters La Colombe started here and have since gone national, but there are plenty of other local roasters to choose from and pleasant cafes in which to enjoy the brews. Quality tea isn't so prevalent but you can find it at places such as The Random Tea Room and Premium Steap.
Sometimes a guy or a girl just has to dance and Philadelphia is sympathetic. Soul music and groovy sounds up to the 1990s will get you on the floor (with go-go girls) at the Trestle Inn; for after-hours, hard house, techno and the like, Voyeur delivers the goods.
There are occasional dance nights at L'etage and DJs spin tracks upstairs at Tavern on Camac on Friday and Saturday nights. If you're hanging out in South Philly, the Dolphin Tavern is also a good bet for a boogie.
Need to Know
- Bars: noon–2am
- Cafes: 7am–7pm
10% on the sale of all alcoholic beverages.
Tip bar staff 15% to 20% of your drink price.
Legal Drinking Age
The minimum drinking age in Pennsylvania is 21. Carry photo ID for age checks. For overseas visitors this will mean your passport – your driving licence officially won't count if the bouncers on the door are feeling fussy.
Common across the city, usually between 5pm and 7pm Monday to Friday.
- Uwishunu (www.uwishunu.com) Regularly updated listings on nightlife events.
- Foobooz (www.phillymag.com/foobooz) News and listings on the drinking scene.
- Phillygrub (https://phillygrub.wordpress.com) Blog with updates on the city's dining and drinking options.
- Philly Beer Scene (www.beerscenemag.com) Bi-monthly publication on the local craft-beer culture.