The Royal Sidecar at the Library Bar, Rittenhouse Philadelphia
I visited the Library Bar, coming in like a wayward soul on a silent summer evening. Philadelphia has a lot of cocktail bars, there’s the “No Soup For You!” rambunctiousness of Lee at Hop Sing. The two sided coin of Franklin Mortgage and Ranstead Room, juxtaposing baroque innovation and simplicity within a few blocks of each other, the surprising ethereal country elegance that is Farmers Cabinet, and the excellence of Lemon Hill. But…There’s something missing. A bar in the classic style: Luxurious, exclusive, welcoming, equal parts formal and friendly in the style of the 1890s that seems to have been forgotten by most (the great Japanese bars excepted). In short, a bar as a refuge.
The Library Bar fills that mold, and fills it well. It’s tucked away in the Rittenhouse hotel (go through the main entrance, through a second set of doors, turn right and there you are!), and there’s a library-esque sitting room that’s fronted by a beautiful bar, manned by “Papi” Hurtado, and his excellent apprentice bartender, Michelle, who guided me through one of the most unique drinks on the menu, the Royal Sidecar, as seen in the video below. It was named for a drink Papi made for Prince Harry, who was in the press the next day from some unbecoming behavior. You can’t blame Prince Harry, after ordering this drink, I could barely walk.
First introduced in the roaring 20s, beloved of the flappers and a favorite in the grand hotels of London and Paris, our own Royal Sidecar was reputed to have inspired a moment of more princely mischief. Smooth Courvoisier, the light bubbles of Legret Champagne, and a glass perfumed by a breeze of orange nectar give the old Sidecar a new and regal twist.
Courvoisier Cognac, Cointrea, Jean-Pierre Legret Champagne, Lemon Juice
Flamed Orange Peel Garnish
As a last note, the bar snacks are the best I have ever eaten. After having truffle potato chips you will never understand why they are not ubiquitous.