When the pandemic shutdown started, I thought of to-go cocktails in the same way I do those random curated playlists on Spotify. It’s great that they’re an option, but I won’t be pressing play on “Daily Mix 6” anytime soon. Well, it turns out that my limited background in mixology (a.k.a. combining cherry and blueberry flavors on the Slurpee machine) didn’t prepare me for any of this. Thanks to several restaurants creatively navigating the city’s indoor alcohol ban, to-go cocktails have saved me, and many others, from having to compare cocktail stirrers at our local Fine Wine & Good Spirits. And with Philly weather bouncing from chilly to resembling the set of Frozen, knowing where to grab your next warm cocktail makes all the difference. Here are 11 great places in the city selling to-go versions of hot toddies, Irish coffees, and more.
Booker’s Restaurant & Bar
The hot toddy is the ultimate classic winter cocktail. Like your go-to winter hat, it’s simple and treasured. At Booker’s Restaurant and Bar, it’s one of the several cocktails you can get to go. Theirs is 8-ounces, features house whiskey, honey, lemon juice, and your choice of tea, and will definitely hold you over on a chilly day.
We’ve spent the past few months trying to find a source of entertainment outside of the “How It Started vs. How It’s Going” memes and bouncing between streaming apps for their latest releases. R&D Cocktail Bar knows our struggles, which is why they’re serving everything from a spicy tequila blend full of mango and apricot to a White Russian milk punch. You can order them in sizes for two ($24) or four ($48) people, and one of our favorites is the Sazerac, which they serve both hot and cold.
Kensington pub Martha is another local spot with an easy online ordering system. And with indoor dining having as much stability as the Eagles head coaching job (sorry Doug), it’s always good to know where you can get your next warm sip. The neighborhood bar has six hot cocktails to choose from, ranging from banana mixtures to hot apple cider. But we love the “East Coast Elixr” that has Lapsang Souchong tea and a super smoky flavor.
Usually getting warm quickly in the winter involves multiple blankets, a quick hop in the shower, or passionately arguing over the Phillies’ bullpen depth. Bar Hygge has many other options for you that are $10 and under and don’t involve any blood pressure-raising conversations. Their aromatic Irish coffee provides the perfect balance of sweetness and oak flavor we need this winter.
Cocktails from Friday Saturday Sunday give us even more satisfaction than turning our alarms off heading into the weekend. That’s especially true about their “Adults ONLY Hot Chocolate.” Served by the quart, it’s full of the best thing on earth - chocolate - along with a subtle nuttiness from the smoked chestnut syrup.
Bud & Marylin’s is one of the many places in the city that’s taking to-go cocktails to a new level with their hilarious names and pouch stickers. From “You Can’t Handle the Ruth″ to “You Are Essential to Me,” you usually leave there with a great drink and a smirk. But the retro spot hit the Iverson step-back three with their spiced cider that’s got a blend of sweet pomegranate molasses, orange, cloves, and your choice of alcohol.
So far, the winter has brought us shivering nights and chilly days of shoveling out our cars. OK, that was only once but it still was insufferable. That’s why we could all use one of the many warm cocktails from Tattooed Mom’s pick-up menu. Their butterscotch mocha java is one of our go-to’s for a sugary mix of chocolate and rum.
The last time I tried to order a “Warmer Days” cocktail from South Philly Taproom, hearing they were sold out hit me harder than Mufasa’s last moment with Scar. I’d love to say I recreated the drink at home, but neither I nor Siri had any idea what was in spiced brown sugar. Thankfully, I was able to order this delicious, cinnamon-y rum-based drink the next day.
Before the pandemic, Charlie Was A Sinner was one of those places you went to get the full fancy bar experience. While you can’t recreate the whole charm of a meal there, you can still bring some of the spot home with cocktails like the “Loose Lips Sink Ships.” The mezcal-heavy drink is topped with a house-made pecan butter which gives the blend a sweet creaminess.
The cocktail lineup at The Sidecar Bar & Grille could rival just about any 1 Saturday Morning broadcasts I saw as a kid. And I’m not just saying that because several of the drinks are named after Rihanna songs. From “Pour It Up” to “Oh Na Na What’s My Name,” the cocktails at this Christain Street bar are full of interesting possibilities. One of my favorites (drinks not songs) is the “Desperado.” It’s pretty much dark hot chocolate spiked with tequila, but it also comes with a cool mason jar - and who can resist a good swag cup.
Whether you’re taking a winter stroll along the nearby Schuylkill River or getting cozy at home, “The Gingerbread Breakfast” from Winnie’s is like drinking Christmas. The ginger syrup and sweet butter-filled cocktail at the Manayunk neighborhood spot can be ordered daily and is infused with spiced rum, hot coffee, and topped with whipped cream and cinnamon.