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Raise a Glass

by Bill Donahue

Like every restaurant in the STARR family, Barclay Prime delivers an experience that always hits the mark. This stunning Rittenhouse steakhouse recently unveiled a new cocktail lineup that puts a new spin on some retro classics. The list of noteworthy cocktails includes The Barclay, made with custom-blended bourbon, sherry, teainfused vermouth, cherry bitters and housesmoked cherry. Take a seat at the bar, maybe pair your liquid cocktail with one of the seafood variety (lobster, jumbo shrimp or Alaskan king crab) and just take it all in.

Bowman’s Tavern, NEW HOPE
Happy hour at Bowman’s Tavern would bring a smile to Ebenezer Scrooge’s face. Monday through Friday at Bowman’s, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., you’ll find $6 specials on half a dozen classic cocktails—an Old Fashioned, a French gimlet and a raspberry Cosmo, among them—with equally generous specials on favorites from the kitchen (roasted garlic hummus, steamed PEI mussels, etc.).

Buona Via Italian Seafood & Grill, HORSHAM
Buona Via is a can’t-miss destination for any occasion: business lunch, date night, happy hour, etc. The bartenders serve up some seriously inventive drinks, and you’d be hard pressed to find another restaurant that can match its expansive wine list. You’ll find drink specials every day of the week—Thursday is “Ladies Night,” with $5 Cosmos—plus $4 drafts, $5 house wines and much more during happy hour.

Butcher & Barkeep, HARLEYSVILLE
The “B&B” is serving up some exceptional Southern-tinged pub fare—two words: “sexy fries”—but it’s the copious selection of craft beers and house wines that deserve most of the headlines. (The B&B also has a terrific takeout bottle selection.) If designer cocktails are up your alley, you’ll find plenty of inventive and imaginatively named libations here. With names like “A Cure for Pain” (blended scotch, absinthe and calvados, among other ingredients), consider our interest piqued.

Firepoint Grill, NEWTOWN SQUARE
Much like its sister restaurants (Blue in Bethlehem, and Melt, Torre and Top Cut in Center Valley), Firepoint Grill works incredibly hard to perfect every aspect of the customer experience. You can see the attention to detail in the restaurant’s artful design. You feel the effort in the service. And you can certainly taste the craftsmanship in the well-curated menus. At the bar, Firepoint offers a finely tuned selection of classic cocktails of the Manhattan and dirty martini sort, plus a full menu of spectacular seasonal offerings. Head there for the weekday happy hour menu— Monday through Friday, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.—to enjoy marvels such as the Blueberry Gin Collins ($7), or sip the refreshing Rosé Sangria ($7) or a Pickled Bloody Mary ($6) during the brunch happy hour, Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

General Warren, MALVERN
The General Warren has long been known as a “go to” for holidays and special occasions, but you’ll want to make this an everyday haunt after tasting the exquisite cuisine. The same applies to GW’s tavern menu, complemented by a range of wellcrafted cocktails, perfect for warming up this winter. There’s the Dream Catcher Coffee, an Irish whiskey-based spirit finished with toasted chestnuts and topped with a crown of whipped cream. Or the Blushin’ Russian, a new take on the classic White Russian with Stoli and Kahlua, chopped strawberries and a splash of strawberry liqueur. Or the Honey Bourbon Old Fashion, made with in-house honeycomb-infused Jim Beam.

Jarrettown Hotel Italian Restaurant and Bar, DRESHER
Some advice: Head to the Jarrettown for happy hour (Monday through Friday, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.), take a seat at the cool stone bar and make a few new friends. You’ll find $6 apps, $5 wines and martinis and $4 crafts and imports. Once happy hour has reached its end, stay for a glass of Super Tuscan and one of the best grillfired Margherita pizzas you’ll find anywhere in Montgomery County.

Panache Woodfire Grill, BLUE BELL
Polished Panache has not one but two beautifully done bars—and either one will serve as an able backdrop for taking in everything this restaurant has to offer. Whether you’re unwinding with a craft beer and watching the game on one of the big-screen TVs or sharing artisan cocktails over an intimate conversation, you’ll find what you seek at Panache. A word to the wise: If you’re going for Sunday brunch (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.), be sure to include the avocado toast in your order.

The Plumsteadville Inn, PIPERSVILLE
“Burgers & Beer, Lobster & Cheer” is the Plumsteadville Inn’s official tagline, and you’re sure to find all of the above here. The Plum is all about comfort, from the design to the cuisine to the ample menu. The lively tavern area features a massive stone fireplace for getting cozy this time of year, while the bar features plenty of screens for viewing the next Eagles, Flyers, Sixers or Phillies game. The Plum’s happy hour is festive and collegial, and Sunday brunch is something to be experienced, with generous specials on Bloody Marys and mimosas.

Taphouse 23, BRIDGEPORT
Taphouse 23 is leading the way in Bridgeport’s renaissance. With generous happy hour specials Monday through Friday—$2 off draft beers and glasses of wine from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.— and plenty of roosts for bending an elbow, it’s no surprise that Taphouse 23 is making such a stir. The interior is simply gorgeous, but Taphouse 23’s ample outdoor patio has us eager for the return of warmer weather.

Honorable mentions: We could go on (and on and on …), but we’d be remiss if we didn’t give a shout out to five other favorites:
“Charlie was a sinner.” in Midtown Village (
Crooked Eye Brewery in Hatboro (
The Goat’s Beard, with locations in Manayunk and Wayne (
Maxwell’s on Main in Doylestown (
Suburban Restaurant and Beer Garden in Exton (

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life Magazine, January, 2018. 

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