It’s baaaaaack! The hell-o-days. Oh, come on. It’s not that bad. Another year over, and a new one …on the verge. And with the war raging on (and falling apart) and grandma’s fruitcake threatening to burn a hole in your belly, where do you turn? Right here, of course, for a crash course in putting the fun (or err, escape) back into the season. Drop into these perfectly apropos dark bars for ducking out from holiday shopping, refueling before heading back out there, or bagging the whole thing and just ordering another round.
Image the ideal holiday shopping experience. Cold weather, but not too cold. Pleasant shops offering wares from antique to cutting edge. Where in Philly could you be? Why, Pine Street’s Antique Row, of course. But if all this seasonal bliss is too much for you, or if wracking your cerebrum for the perfect bauble to bag for Aunt Betty is getting you down, stop into Philly’s most sublime dive bar for a beer or two and a little Nina Simone on the juke box. And never mind the old Christmas tree behind the bar. That thing has sat stoically and dusty in the same perch for many seasons past. Dirty Frank’s, 374 S. 13th St., Philadelphia, 215.732.5010.
Old City shoppers – I mean come on, how many gifts can you knock out at Foster’s Homeware alone? – will need to drop out, check their purchases and maybe even meet up with holiday-shopping friends. Why not do it in style – but with that element of anonymity and escapism we all crave at this super-social time of year. Steal away to Tangerine’s shadowy lounge area for a few rounds of Sicilian Lemondrops and some Mediterranean fare to ease your holiday stress. Or go to Buddakan. That doesn’t suck either. Tangerine, 232 Market St., Philadelphia, 215.627.5116; www.tangerinerestaurant.com
The Black Sheep
Whether shopping for gifts at H&M and Daffy’s or charging it up at Lagos and Burberry, slip into the Black Sheep and lift a pint or three and discover what the holiday’s are really about – hanging with an eclectic mix and forgetting all that wrapping you’re going to be doing on Christmas Eve. Better still, tuck in to a plate of bangers and mash before forgetting yourself in a vicious round of darts in the basement bar. The Black Sheep, 247 S. 17th St., Philadelphia, 215.545.9473; www.theblacksheeppub.com
Las Vegas Lounge
If you spent your last dime on an engagement ring holiday surprise – yeah right. Or bought the perfect tennis bracelet for the lady in your life, or maybe a set of diamond cuff links for that bling-digging boyfriend of yours, maybe spending 13 bucks a cocktail might not be that appealing. Sansom Street shoppers and those from other nearby locales should hoist a few over drink specials that make it almost too inexpensive not to imbibe. Maybe play a heated pool game, or stock up on LVL tee shirts to round out your never-ending shopping list. Las Vegas Lounge, 704 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, 215.592.9533; www.lasvegaslounge.com