Happy Hour(ish) at a.bar (Philadelphia, PA)

It’s official, I am in love. I may be single forever because my love of food, sci-fi, and comic books don’t make me particularly attractive to anyone,  but now that I’ve discovered a.bar, I think I’ll be okay. I decided to stop by on a whim because I had been hearing about a.kitchen + bar a lot lately, and I am so glad that I did. I walked in after my internship around 4pm, so the place wasn’t all that busy; however, the bar was pretty full by the time I walked out around 5:30pm. The bar itself is gorgeous, with a pewter counter, black wooden stools, and one large window that allows you to people-watch. It’s minimalist, but powerful, and has none of the sterilized feel that so many modern bars boast of nowadays.

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While I did appreciate the simple color scheme that still had a welcoming air to it, I was, as always, more concerned with the people and products at a.bar. The larger portion of my food and drink extravaganza at the bar was definitely the drinking, but I was able to try out some phenomenal cocktails, so I was pretty happy by the end of this happy hour. My bartender, who I am 80% sure was named Matt and 100% sure was the best bartender ever, started me off with the Speak of the Devil signature cocktail.

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My second drink of the night was the basis for my first cocktail, the Archangel, which had a stronger taste to it than the Speak of the Devil and really stuck with you after each sip. As a gin girl, I preferred the Archangel, but both cocktails had cucumber undertones to them and were pretty light to pair well with the oysters, so either would be a great dining choice. I told my (imaginary) BFF Matt that I thought the Archangel was better, and in his never ending wisdom he told me that it’s always hard to beat a classic.

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What I didn’t know what I started my exploration of the a.bar cocktails was that Matt would introduce me to my new favorite cocktail, the Bijou. A lovely mix of gin, vermouth, chartreuse, and orange bitters, this cocktail is not as appealing to the eye as my others, but it was much more appealing to my taste buds. Even though I am still a rookie drinker and am finding my way around cocktails, before this, I pretty much always stuck with my go-to drinks: gin and tonics, Merlots, and beer. However, I recently decided to be more adventurous and really travel throughout the drinking world lest I miss out on something truly phenomenal. I couldn’t have picked a better time to do so than my day at a.bar. This cocktail dates back to the 1890s for a reason, and I can’t wait to try it again.

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Of course, while I loved my drink options and the bartender who served them to me, I originally decided to stop by a.bar under the lure of $1.50 oysters. The six Black Point oysters that I tried were delicious. I can’t say much about them except that these sweet, slightly salty oysters were a steal during happy hour and were only enhanced by the onions and lemons that came with them. If you’re not an oyster person, a.bar might not be the place to check out during happy hour, but if you are, this place is well worth a visit, especially if Oyster House is too busy and you need an oyster fix.

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While the oysters pleased me on a foodie level, on a hungry level, I was still craving something. ‘These oysters were super filling’ is a statement said by no one ever, so in order to fill me up a bit and get some food in me to soak up my cocktails, I decided to order the Lobster Roll. Recently, lobster and I have had a bit of a falling out, so I was hesitant to get the roll. In my opinion, lobster rarely lives up to what you want from it and I often regret ordering it after I make my decision because I am left craving something more. Thankfully, the lobster roll at a.bar featured some of the sweetest, plumpest lobster I have eaten in ages and was the perfect accompaniment for a warm day. I was pleasantly surprised with the capers which were mixed in as well because it’s not something I’ve come across before, but they added just the perfect amount of salt to this otherwise smooth dish. Most importantly, there was just enough mayo in the mix to hold it all together, yet not overwhelm the subtle lobster flavors. It wasn’t the biggest lobster roll out there, but if you’re a fan of quality over quantity, this is a great choice.

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My quick happy hour at a.bar turned into something much more than I was expecting, but I am glad that I managed to get a well-rounded experience the first time I stopped in. I’ll definitely be coming back for more, although for the sake of my wallet I will probably just stick to one strong cocktail and some salty oysters, unless my parents are paying. I didn’t get to visit a.kitchen + bar before Eli Kulp came on board, but I can say that this is one of my new favorite finds and I hope that it always lives up to these standards.

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About Jaleh Najafali

I'm passionate about all kinds of things and spend my free time either exploring new food and drink, devouring comic books, or catching up on a multitude of Sci-Fi shows. Merlot, sour beer, and dessert make me nerd out, but I also need things like Doctor Who, Spider-Man, and travel in my life to keep me happy.
This entry was posted in Bar, Beer, Cocktails, Food, Happy Hour, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Restaurant and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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