You Should Drink Here – Grace and Proper

You Should Drink Here (#YSDH) is where I write about cocktail bars that you should, you know, drink at. It means I’ve visited the bar 3 or 4 times and sampled most if not all the drinks, so you can be pretty confident it’s legit.

Grace and Proper, a beautiful new-ish Eurobar tucked away in Philly Bella Vista neighborhood, provides one of my favorite cocktail bar experiences in years. Walking the neighborhood is a treat for any sharp-eyed history lover, with tons of old-world masonry, brickwork, and historical markers. So I was excited a few months ago when I spied a storefront that blended perfectly into the local aesthetic. Even better, it was a bar! After multiple visits, I’m just so excited about Grace and Proper – it’s a wonderful, eye-catching scene that represents everything good about the area. Oh, and the drinks, food, and service are really good too, if you care about that sort of thing.

The place is really nice to look at, isn’t it?

Drinks and people are great, but it’s usually engaging aesthetics that keep me coming back to a bar. Grace and Proper is a feast for the eyes and an ode to South Philly’s rich immigrant history. If you’re a nerd for classic European decor and design, this is the bar for you. The space started in 1920 as GT Manlio’s drug store, and its exposed brick wall, tin ceiling, and floor mosaics are transformative. Vintage posters, art, and a drinking water sink complete the look. Sitting at the bar, I felt like I was holding court at a neighborhood cafe or bar in Vienna or Stockholm. And that’s a good feeling.

How about the vibe, is the vibe good?

Grace and Proper’s crowd reflects the surrounding neighborhood: chill, diverse, and friendly. Local old heads (I’m learning, Philly), boring middle-aged hipsters like me, and the younger set can all be found chatting and drinking at the bar, adding real verve to the evenings. As the weather warms, conversations and laughter can be heard on the patio area outside. The service staff I interacted with was absolutely top notch, super-friendly and considerate even when the place was hopping.

Cool decor and people, got it. But what can I drink there?

GP brings a looong and fairly complex cocktail list to the game, catering to all tastes and tolerances. Some of my favorites included the “Good Giving Game,” a gold leaf adorned drink that brings a nice, easy sweetness off the honey. Others I really enjoyed the easy sippers like “Me Time” with its delightful raspberry and the “Porto Tonico,” a refreshing mix of port and grapefruit. For those looking for bracing power, try the “Ironbound” which smacks you upside the head with my favorite Jersey import Laird’s Applejack, and the “That Nicholas Cage” which carries a unique and aggressive truffle flavor. There is also a comprehensive wine list with all sorts of continental and Californian varieties, if you’re into that kind of thing. Oh and plenty of High Life, so low culture devotees are more than welcome here.

What else excites you?

Well, I’m super pumped for Dune 2 in November. Now, if you examine the trailer…

No, I mean about the bar.

Oh, got it. I’m very excited about G and P’s potential as a lazy summer drinking venue. Bella Vista is a great area to chill and lazily watch the world go by, and Grace and Proper’s outside tables and bar tops provide the perfect perch. Throw in some light-weight clothing, overpriced sunglasses, and some wine and cocktails and your Saturday evening is set. Additionally, Grace and Proper’s willingness to extend hours and serve engaging new foods lights my fire. South Philly is fun but a little sleepy, so having a high-quality spot run 4-midnight for most of the week and open at noon for brunch on Fri-Sun is solid. On the food front, adventurous (and apparently super tasty) dishes like the Bufana and Portuguese brunch get my mouth watering.

See you there!

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