Scene: A Fine Philly Watering Hole

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In the heart of the City of Brotherly Love, Square 1682 is a lively gathering spot for fans of the locally sourced, modern American cuisine of executive chef Caitlin Mateo. The perpetually enticing and rotating cocktail selection from the lead bartender Chauncey Scates is a draw as well.

Adjacent to the Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar, its name is a nod to the year in which Rittenhouse founded the namesake square where the venue is located. The open-space park concept is today home to a variety of cultural institutions, as well as bars, restaurants and shops.

How does Square 1682, which opened in October 2009, stand out from the crowd? “We try to do accessible yet sophisticated cocktails; approachable yet at the same time delivering [drinks] that are fun,” says Scates, who was recently promoted to serve as Philadelphia’s citywide lead bartender for all Kimpton properties.

One of Square 1682’s signature sips is Eve’s Lament ($13). It’s described on the menu as “bitter, tart, tiki,” and combines Bombay Sapphire East gin with Campari, orgeat, lemon and pineapple, served tall over crushed ice.
Another drink is the delicate, pale-rose-tinged Pink on Pink ($11), with Grey Goose vodka, Lillet Rouge, lemon, pomegranate molasses and Peychaud’s bitters.

Getting punchy

The four or so options on Square 1682’s punch menu range in price from $12 to $14 for an individual serving, and $48 to $56 a bowl. All include tea, which is one of the five requisite ingredients for historical punch, along with a spirit, sugar, citrus and water.

The Sweet and Dandy punch features Mt. Gay rum with Dolin Blanc vermouth, Marie Brizard Apry liqueur, African nectar tea, pineapple, lemon, strawberry syrup and three varieties of bitters.

The You Never Pay Just One punch uses Bulleit bourbon, Fernet Branca, orange dulce tea, lemon, lime and both Peychaud’s and Sarsaparilla bitters. The punches pair well with fun bar snacks, such as truffle popcorn with citric salt ($4) and Lancaster duck toast with lingonberry mustard and buttermilk toast ($12).

“We pull from a lot of old-school spirits, a lot of amaros, fortified wines,” explains Scates. “We use them in a contemporary fashioned with our in-house syrups and tinctures to create drinks that have depth, are interesting and delicious.”

Bishops and boozy juices

For the chilly Philadelphia fall and winter, Square 1682 is rekindling its toddy menu, which last year had six options priced from $10 to $14. One included Knob Creek bourbon and pumpkin-maple syrup; another boasted Bulleit rye and five-spice syrup.

Scates this year plans to expand the toddy category with bishops—simmered drinks made with wine or Madeira. “We are very seasonally focused,” she notes. “Our bartenders submit a lot of drink [ideas], and I’m getting a lot of input” about seasonal offerings.

Square 1682 also recently introduced booze-infused juices. Inspired by the restaurant’s raw-juice program that began in January (which Scates says is fueled by Kimpton’s health-conscious philosophy), bartenders now offer spirited versions of the three selections.

The Beets Me, with red beets, carrots, ginger and cilantro, gets a kick from blanco tequila, while Being Green is made with cucumber, celery, spinach, kale and lemon and spiked with Tanqueray gin.

A third option changes seasonally; all spiked juices cost $16. “It’s a fun, flavorful new way to enjoy a cocktail at brunch or even lunch,” says Mateo.

Scates is now working on ramping up the wine program at Square 1682. She also plans to incorporate more wine—including sherry—into the cocktails.

She relishes being part of the vibrant, evolving bar culture in Philadelphia. “There is a lot of new energy, a lot of fresh faces,” Scates says. “It’s exciting—it’s becoming a more collaborative scene.”

Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer and wine educator in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.

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