Philly’s Finest – Franklin Bar

One of the best cocktail experience I’ve ever had, Franklin Bar’s subterranean hideaway provides the perfect setting for out –of-this-world drinks.

Ambiance: *****

Decor: *****

Service: *****

Cocktails: *****

Overall Rating: 5

I found myself in Philadelphia for a brief pre-Thanksgiving sojourn.  Per my standard approach, I nosed around a bit to find the best cocktail spot around and discovered the “Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company” AKA The Franklin Bar, a gorgeous speak-easy tucked into the Center City neighborhood.  Put simply, Franklin Bar was one of the best cocktail experiences I’ve ever had — all six of the drinks I tasted were knockouts, amazingly intricate and delicious concoctions that are worth a trip to Philadelphia by themselves.  The vibe of the bar is fun and professional, with well-dressed patrons and bartenders working to make and drink some high-grade cocktails.  I’d very much recommend getting a seat at the small bar — there, you can witness the intricate processes behind the drinks and chat with the phenomenal bar staff, who are more than happy to give you background on the drinks and their ingredients.  Put simply, it’s a must-stop bar.


I started the party with “Shorter, Faster, Louder” with blended scotch, green chartreuse, cream of  coconut, lemon, pineapple juice, and basil.  Writing “that’s awesome” in my notes, this drink immediately hits you with the beautiful citrus and fruit sensations that are thickened and softened by the excellent cream of coconut.  The hit of the scotch is perfectly woven into that taste, never overbearing, always complimenting, and flows evenly throughout the swallow.  Then, just when you think the drink can’t get any better, you recognize the subtle hint of basil, which serves as the finishing touch on this masterpiece.  On to the “…With a Baseball Bat” with bourbon infused with peanut butter (!), Genever, blackberry, raspberry, brown sugar, and aromatic bitters.  I was super pumped for this one because of the peanut-butter flavor and I was not disappointed; this was a surprisingly simple taste with the bourbon sensation on the front end and a really entertaining  and unique peanut butter and sweet-ish blackberry taste as the second half.  Brilliant pairing.  Also, you might want to ask the bartenders the story behind the peanut-butter infusion process, which involves the appetizing term “fatwash.”

I moved on to “Violet Beauregard” with cognac, rum, honey grappa, blueberry, and lemon juice.  I was interested in this drink because I always have a hard time with blueberry flavor in cocktails — well, the experts at Franklin made it work.  Violet is delicious, a harmony between the tart blueberry and rich honey sensations.  Not overly sweet, just a nice, patient flavor with a great aftertaste — the sort of drink I could have ten of.  After that we had my favorite drink of the night, the “Firefly” with white rum, overproof rum, blanc vermouth, housemade orange liquer, angostura bitters, and vanilla.  I’ve never had a cocktail that does orange better, powering an awesome sensation that rises and drops as you sip.  The orange is refreshing, enriching, and powerful, setting up a subtly vanilla finish.  A simple but really superb drink, this was challenges my descriptive abilities.

The next drink, the “Joy Spring,” was another classic, with cachaca, white rum, nigori sake, amaretto, banana, maple, lemon juice, and egg white.  As a lover of bananas, I’ve always had difficulty making them work in cocktails.  But again Franklin solves the riddle with a rum-forward taste that is rendered divine by the frothy and soft banana flavor.  The banana syrup is wonderfully partnered with the rich and soft maple, egg white, and lemon flavors.  Just a superb and relaxing drink.  And finally, the “Your Crooked Neighbor” with blanc rhum agricole, blanc vermouth, amontillado sherry, amaro nonino, and cinnamon.  The cinnamon pops hard in this one and gave it an almost apple-ish sensation to me.  This is a complex, bright, and sprightly drink with a consistent kick.  I loved the taste of sherry in this one and how it works with the herbal hints of the amaro.  A good drink to end an amazing evening!


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