It's the most wonderful time of the year for a mug of warm spiced cider, mulled wine, hot buttered rum and the like. Luckily Philadelphia's bubbling over with hot drink options. (Credit: iStockPhoto)
Since today is the official onset of winter, we deemed it good timing to curate a guide to hot drinks in and around Philadelphia.
From freshly brewed coffee to sweet steeped tea, from hot milkshakes (yes, those exist; read on) to spicy hot toddies, Philadelphia’s bubbling over with hot drinks aplenty.
Keep warm this winter season with our handy guide to hot drinks, below:
• Rival Bros Coffee: Jonathan Adams, executive chef of both Pub & Kitchen and The Diving Horse in Avalon, NJ, and Damien Pileggi, an artisanal coffee expert, teamed up to launch Rival Bros Coffee, a small-batch, custom coffee roaster that encompasses an e-store and mobile coffee shop, The Rival Bros Truck. Their truck is located at LOVE Park every weekday morning from 7-10:30 a.m. and at various locations in the afternoon.
• Burlap and Bean: Offering its own Fair Trade Certified, Certified Organic beans roasted in-house, Newtown Square’s Burlap and Bean distinguishes itself as an ambitious independent spot with a cozy, welcoming atmosphere.
• Chestnut Hill Coffee Company: Patrons can catch a tantalizing whiff of caramelizing beans at the upstairs roastery here. Downstairs, the coffee bar turns out elaborate swirls of latte art. The alt-rock soundtrack and homemade soups are a bonus.
• Garces Trading Company: Celebrity chef Jose Garces is as serious about coffee as he is about his food, so it’s no surprise that the signature roasted beans at Garces Trading Co. lend themselves to a memorable French press.
• La Colombe: Inarguably the originator of Philly’s first wave of coffee, La Colombe remains the go-to spot for rich Italian-style espressos and excellent machiattos.
• Old City Coffee: With two high-traffic locations — one in Old City, the other in the Reading Terminal Market — Old City Coffee has produced fresh, tiny batches of high-grade Arabica coffee for more than 25 years now.
• Rocket Cat Café: Amid the well-documented Shepard Fairey mural, thrift-store furnishings and vegan snacks at Fishtown’s Rocket Cat Café is a worthy espresso roasted by GreenStreet Roasters, which roasts only Fair Trade Certified and Organic Certified coffee.
• Gryphon Café: Serving up house-roasted, organic coffee along with a weekly schedule of independent music acts and open mic-nights, Wayne’s Gryphon Café keeps its visitors awake and entertained.
• Milkboy Philly: Milkboy, which first built its following with outposts in Ardmore and Bryn Mawr, has opened a Center City location, making its coffee, veggie-friendly meals and live music available to the downtown crowd. Bonus: the new rock venue has a liquor license to balance out any espresso-induced jitters.
Read on, below.
• Chhaya Cafe: The organic, fair-trade espressos and lattes at Chhaya are served alongside fresh meals of seasonal salads (peach and fig with honeyed walnuts), sandwiches (prosciutto, apple and mozzarella panini) and a full menu of creative waffles like Nutella/strawberry and veggie chili/cornbread.
• High Point Café: While its espressos have been given top ratings, the two locations of High Point Café in Mt. Airy also have a mean menu of quiches, baked goods and crepes to match.
• Town Hall Coffee Co.: Find yourself in Marion Station? GimmeCoffee and Counter Culture supply the beans for Town Hall Coffee Co. Pear and chocolate scones, croissant bread pudding and New York-style bagels are the ideal accompaniment.
• Lovers and Madmen: Once you get past the name, you’ll become a regular of this University City coffee lounge which offers short-pulled espressos from its La Marzocco FB80 in a friendly, collegiate atmosphere.
• Shot Tower Coffee: Between its Stumptown and PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. beans and its one-of-a-kind La Marzocco machine, Queen Village’s Shot Tower Coffee turns out impeccable espressos.
• Spruce Street Espresso: Simplicity is key at Spruce Street Espresso, where the single-origin Counter Culture beans are transformed into expertly well balanced shots. A second location is in the works.
• Ultimo: Its espresso was rated number one in the city by Craig LaBan, and rightfully so: Ultimo serves Counter Culture coffees, ground and brewed to perfection — for serious coffee lovers only.
• BODHi Coffee: At Bodhi Coffee in Society Hill, the café proudly wears salvaged materials, the Stumptown coffees are available in pour-over and drip styles and the food is fresh, organic and local.
• Good Karma Café: The name says it all. Fair trade and certified organic coffee are the foundation at both locations of Good Karma Café, but owner David Arrell’s best-practices philosophy is underscored by green construction and corn-based plastics.
• Grindcore House: The vegan lifestyle is celebrated at this spot, a Pennsport hangout where coffee drinkers can choose from a variety of non-dairy creamers (soy, rice, almond, coconut) and a meatless, eggless, milkless menu of pastries and sandwiches.
• Mugshots: In its Fairmount and Brewerytown locations, Mugshots has made a commitment to sustainability via recyclable packaging; vegan, vegetarian and organic snacks; fair-trade coffee; and the opportunity to shop for local food.
• One Shot Coffee: Built from reclaimed wood and tile, Northern Liberties’ expansive One Shot showcases its socially conscious heart with Stumptown’s direct trade coffee and seasonal organic fare. Fun fact: some ingredients are grown in customers’ gardens!
• Ants Pants Café: For anyone curious about Australian coffees, Ants Pants in Graduate Hospital is a great place to be indoctrinated into flat whites and long blacks — not to mention iced coffees made from espresso ice cream and whipped cream.
• Café Fulya: Dark and sweet, pot-brewed Turkish coffee is on offer at the charming Café Fulya, and the Turkish pastries and specialties like manti complete the Ottoman experience.
• Ray’s Café and Tea House: Long before the current pour-over and Chemex fever began, Chinatown staple Ray’s was serving international by-the-cup Hario siphoned coffees, as well as a full range of teas from around the world.
• Elixr Coffee: Elixr Coffee serves Direct Trade beans, and only top quality local organic milk, in addition to stocking locally made art on the walls and a relaxed vibe perfect for laptop-workers.
• Premium Steap: Designed to be more of a tea boutique than a sit-down tea house, Premium Steap offers the finest, full-leaf, premium teas from around the world. More than 100 varieties of tea are available from the take-out tea bar. The shop also offers products that allow tea drinkers to enjoy the perfect cup at home or work.
• Ray’s Cafe & Teahouse: This spot, located in the heart of Chinatown, serves teas from Taiwan in a casual atmosphere. Diners can sip tea while munching on Taiwanese entrees and homemade cookies and desserts in an authentic setting.
• Tea Country: The idea began as a theoretical class project for four MBA students at Eastern University and grew into a bricks-and-mortar retail tea shop that specializes in selling and serving gourmet loose-leaf tea four days a week. Call for free tea tastings: (215) 276-2051.
• Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop: This quirky spot in Northern Liberties is a place to restore the spirit and wow the palate. Their line of 40 artisanal teas and house-blended herbal infusions offer a window into the international world of tea.
• The Four Seasons Hotel’s Swann Lounge: This is the place to go for a relaxed afternoon tea after a day of exploring the many museums on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Tea sippers can choose between “Social Tea” and “Royal Tea,” both of which include tea, scones, finger sandwiches, desserts and fruit tartlets. The “Royal Tea” includes the addition of an alcoholic beverage like sparkling wine. It’s available Monday-Friday, 2-3:30 p.m and Saturday 3-4:30 p.m.
• Nineteen (XIX): The café here, a penthouse restaurant with a sweeping view of the city, has tea service that includes a selection of loose-leaf teas elegantly served with tea sandwiches, plus rich pastries and scones. It’s only available during the winter season, but it’s worth the wait.
• The Rittenhouse Hotel’s Mary Cassatt Tea Room and Garden: For a traditionally elegant high-tea experience, visitors should head to the Mary Cassatt Room, serving afternoon British tea and cocktails. One menu option allows sippers to add champagne to their tea, which they can drink outside in a floral garden just beyond the tea room’s French doors.
• The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia: A lovely afternoon awaits at the Ritz, where guests can sample an array of light British fare, including tea, sandwiches, pastries and champagne, in the grand, neo-classical Rotunda lounge.
• Tea With an Accent: Tea drinkers looking to enjoy a warming drink in an ornate and feminine Victorian tea house should look no further than Tea With an Accent, offering afternoon tea five days a week. A harpist occasionally plays music as patrons enjoy their tea served on fine china and with silver cutlery, surrounded by crisp table linens, fresh flowers and candles.
• The Adagio Day Spa & Tea Room: Spa mavens have discovered the use of herbal tea infusions in their facials, which is believed to assist with detoxifying and de-aging the cells. The Adagio Day Spa & Tea Room has created this “tea facial” as its signature treatment. A cup of herbal tea to drink is included with all services.
• Antoinette Day Spa and Salon: Spa-goers can relax over lunch and a steaming cup of flavored tea while waiting for a massage or any other spa treatment here, a full service spa attached to a Victorian tea room that’s decorated with a tea cup chandelier.
• Frankford Hall’s Mulled Wine: Red wine is heated with superfine sugar, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, oranges, allspice and orange juice into a delicious concoction paired perfectly with Chef Jim Davidson’s juicy burgers and salty soft pretzels.
• MidAtlantic’s Hot Mulled Apple Cider: The cider is farm-fresh from Kauffman’s Fruit Farm and Market in Lancaster County. It’s mulled in-house at Midatlantic with spices (allspice, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, ground ginger), fruits (raisins, dried cherries) and fresh vanilla bean, and topped off with bourbon.
• East Girard Gastropub’s Green Tea Hot Toddy: The just-opened Fishtown gastropub is starting off strong with an awesome cocktail menu, including the Green Tea Hot Toddy made with local liqueur SNAP, green tea, honey, lemon and cinnamon. Or try the Hot Peppermint Patty made with Peppermint Schnapps, crème de cocao and, of course, whipped cream.
• White Dog Cafe’s Hot Toddies: Each of the four varieties is made with farm fresh mulled apple cider. Choose from Meyers Dark Rum, Makers Mark Bourbon,
• Morton’s Spiked Coffee: Coffee is mixed with Crème de Cocao Dark, Bailey’s and Amaretto and topped with Whipped Cream. Bonus: the glass is rimmed with cinnamon and sugar for a sweet finish.
• Rum Bar’s Hot Navy Grog: Rum Bar’s Hot Navy Grog warms the heart with hot water, honey and grated nutmeg. Another steamy winter mix is the always popular Hot Buttered Rum, which has two tablespoons of butter batter (butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla) to complement hot water, Ron Zacapa and Canne Banane.
• 10 Art’s Fireside Spiced Cider: Go classy at the Ritz-Carlton’s 10 Arts, and sip amid some of the city’s most festive decorations (and largest mistletoe!) The cider is infused with rum, apples, cinnamon and cloves. Or go for the “naughty” hot chocolate, spiced up with a cordial.
• Twenty Manning Grill’s Cafe Canela: This neighborhood favorite boasts one of Philadelphia’s best bars (according to Philadelphia Magazine). Coffee lovers will enjoy the Cafe Canela, a warming drink with hot coffee, local Snap liqueur, Siembra Azul Blanco and Licor 43.
• Jones’ Hot Chocolate: Warm up with the Jones Decadent Hot Chocolate (Godiva white and dark liquor topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings).
• Square 1682’s Cider: Chef Guillermo Tellez’s delicious New American cuisine goes down smoothly with the bar’s eponymous spiced cider, mulled with nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, lemon, anise and Jameson.
• National Mechanics’ Spiked Apple Cider: Barely anything goes better than hot apple cider and rum, as evidence by this Old City staple.
• Verdad’s Cafe de Verdad: It’s a coffee drink with Patron XO, Godiva Chocolate liqueur and El Jimador Blanco tequila. It’ll keep you up all night, in a good way.
• Franklin Fountain’s Hot Milkshakes: Ok, there’s no alcohol, but they’re totally worth mentioning. Invented by Fountain owner Ryan Berley and soda jerk hall-of-famer Elliot Landes in the early autumn of ‘06, the hot milkshakes have been a hit ever since. Go for the “Caramel Apple Pie Shake”, old fashioned vanilla bean ice cream cascaded with homemade hot caramel sauce and a homemade slice of All-American Apple Pie. As the Fountain puts it, “The gooey warmth of the pie is intermixed into the Shake, and the dessert in its entirety is gawk-and-swoon worthy.”