Mixology Wine Institute's oenophilic classes teach aspiring mixologists and mixonomists how to craft a diverse roster of libations while regaling students with the rich history and social function of the cocktail. The seasoned staff—which includes a resident sommelier and beer experts—dispense thoughtful nuggets of drink-dispensing wisdom, such as ways to add flair to a bartending routine, various wine-and-food pairings, and how to win a cocktail-sword duel. Each session takes place in the institute's well-equipped classroom, which simulates a real bar setting with working soda guns, sinks, and a full catalog of liquors. Pupils leave classes with the knowledge necessary to help bargoers make informed drink decisions.
The Mann Center is a prepossessing structure from anywhere you sit in the semi-covered amphitheater—all huge, rough slabs of timber that evoke the setting for a barn dance held by elegant giants. Even the lawn section isn’t an ordinary lawn: from the top of the steep hill where the theater perches, audiences can see not only the performers lighting up the stage below but also the canopy of trees in surrounding Fairmount Park and the city skyline just beyond.
Ever since its first location opened in 1994, very rarely is there a quiet moment at J.D. McGillicuddy's. Crowds watching the Phillies cheer and groan in unison, and members of bachelorette parties dance around groups of old friends meeting for a drink. The only time the noise dips is when the staff brings out plates of the house's flavorful pub food. Wings, burgers, pizzas, and nachos fill the menu, with East Coast twists such as Old Bay seasoning and jumbo lump crabmeat. Each spacious location has also been known to host special events, from DJ-spun theme nights and pub crawls to Easter breakfasts.
Named after the proprietors' father—a longtime veteran of the restaurant trade—Mikey's American Grill & Sports Bar continues the family's tradition of serving good food in a congenial atmosphere. Seated in the light-filled dining room, guests peel their eyes away from the sports-filled big-screen TVs above the bar to peruse a menu of classic bar standbys. Juicy 8-ounce burgers arrive piled high with tantalizing toppings including bacon, goat cheese, and fried eggs. Their tater tot brethren are no less decorated, coming tricked out with extras ranging from jalapenos and blue cheese to grilled chicken. The thirsty receive equal consideration, with bartenders pouring beer, original cocktails, and fishbowls that let friends share their libations or help pet tetras just loosen up for once in their lives.
"There are no strangers here—just friends you have yet to meet,” so reads the motto painted on the parchment-colored walls of Maggie O'Neill's foyer. The pub aims to live up to this neighborly ethos by offering up an inviting hangout space with three stories. In the top-floor bar area, you can sip on a draft beer, play shuffleboard, or catch a basketball game on TV. The downstairs dining area has table draped in linens, and you can head here to enjoy beer-battered fish and chips and golden-brown shepherd’s pie.
Maggie O’Neill’s décor is an homage to Ireland: there’s a hand-painted Guinness ad on the building's exterior, and the bartop is made of dark varnished wood. Along the walls inside, you might notice the Poet's Corner, which is dedicated to famous Irish authors. It has impassioned musings on art from James Joyce, witty nuggets of wisdom from Jonathan Swift, and Brendan Behan’s rhymed shopping lists.
Helping to spread laughs throughout the land, Helium Comedy Club hosts headliners and tomorrow's brightest stars at its Philadelphia, Portland, and Buffalo locations. In front of a tabled showroom that allows audiences a clear sightline and maximizes guffaw acoustics, a bustling calendar of familiar comic talent fills most of the week with levity, and open mic nights and standup workshops put aspiring jokesmiths higher up the comedy rung.