Philly LGBTQ bars participate in Cocktails-to-Go program

552
Photo: cocktails-to-go from Jocks PHL

Now that summer has unofficially begun, those craving a margarita from their favorite neighborhood bar are in luck. On May 21, Gov. Tom Wolf signed House Bill 327, making it temporarily legal for Pennsylvania bars, restaurants and hotels with liquor licenses to sell cocktails to go. Establishments eligible to participate must have seen more than a 25% decrease in average monthly sales during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a press release.

“This new temporary rule creates more business for bars and restaurants when they need it, helps to meet customer demand and supports social distancing,” Wolf said in the release.  

Other details of the law –– to-go drinks must be purchased no later than 11 p.m. The size of drinks must range from 4 to 64-ounces, distributed in containers with a completely sealed lid. Bar staff must also verify a customer’s age if they appear younger than 35, and patrons are not permitted to drink in public in accordance with Pennsylvania’s open container laws. Once safety restrictions loosen and bars and restaurants can operate at 60% capacity, the Cocktails-to-Go law will no longer apply. 

Below are Philly’s Gayborhood bars that are serving mixed drinks to go, so far. 

Jocks PHL

From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, Jocks PHL will be open for takeout food and a variety of cocktails.  

“I’m glad that [the legislators] are taking some steps to help the small businesses be able to operate even on a limited basis,” said Ben Ablao, Jocks’ general manager. 

In addition to the standard well and call drink fare, Jocks is offering specialty cocktails, such as “Liquid Marijuana” and “Blue Wave,” which range in price from $10-$12 in 16-ounce containers. Jocks’ menu of food to go includes wings, chicken tenders and fries. Customers can place orders online or via phone. 

“It might not necessarily be profitable, but [Cocktails-to-Go] will make some income at least for the bar itself and allow for income for members of our staff that want to participate in completing orders,” Ablao said. “It will continue to engage a lot of our customers that many of us have been talking to, whether it be online media or via phone.” 

Some of the ways Jocks is engaging with the community include a weekly virtual drag show called Jocks Live and through the Mug Club. For $30, Mug Club members can take advantage of discounts on beer, food, and, under usual circumstances, private event rentals, among other perks. Plus, those who sign up in 2020 can renew for $1 in 2021. 

1330 Walnut St., jocksphl.com 

UBar

UBar is providing libations and food to go between the hours of 12-9 p.m., seven days a week. While the bar staff is not offering 64-oz. cocktail options, customers can order any mixed drink as a single or double to go. 

“People seem to be wanting [the double] because they can take it to go and sip on it for a longer period of time,” said Randal Mrazik, managing director of the Tavern Group, which includes UBar and Tavern on Camac. 

Drink prices vary, but most mixed drinks range from $6-$12. Customers can still enjoy Happy Hour from 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, during which house liquors are discounted by $2. 

As for food, UBar offers two salads, two sandwiches and two family meals for takeaway.

1220 Locust St., Ubarphilly.com  

Tavern on Camac

Beginning on Friday, May 29, Tavern on Camac will operate for takeout Friday-Sunday, at least for now. “That all said, we are in uncharted territory, and hours and days open will likely evolve,” Mrazik said in an email. Tavern food will consist of burgers, chicken fingers and fries — the bar’s most popular options, Mrazik added. 

Similar to other Philly LGBTQ+ bars, Tavern offers virtual entertainment through its social media pages. Past virtual events include a Zoom karaoke night and drag shows. Additionally, some of Tavern’s piano players have been recording themselves playing and singing tunes on the Tavern piano for virtual piano bar nights via Facebook Live. 

243 S. Camac St., tavernoncamac.com 

Tabu

This neighborhood sports bar is open for takeout Monday-Friday from 3-9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1-9 p.m. Its drinks menu boasts traditional mixed drinks, frozen margaritas and frosé. Food includes wings, a selection of loaded tater tots, fries and tacos. 

“I think [the law] is going to help a lot of businesses in the city tremendously,” said Phil Sobolewski, Tabu’s general manager and co-owner. “We’ve been kind of in a stand-still here for a little while. Some bars are better off than others. Luckily we’re OK; we’ll survive this. It’s just nice to get back and serve the community, and it’s been really great so far.”

Tabu continues to engage with its community members through drag shows and competitions, including the Binge Worthy Digital Competition, wherein drag queens theme acts around anything they’ve been bingeing, like movies, TV shows and food.   

“[The competitions] garnered a lot of good feedback, a lot of interest and it was really fun,” Sobolewski said. 254 S. 12th St., tabuphilly.com