Cocktails with Character in Lancaster, PA
A night on the town or a memorable dinner starts with a cocktail – especially one with pizzazz and character, artfully crafted at one of Lancaster, PA’s restaurants. Drinks go beyond your standard rum and coke and classic martini, combining local ingredients with hard-to-find or locally made spirits. Some bartenders are reviving and reinventing the classics, while others are putting new flavors together to create signature concoctions.
Many of these spots have fantastic cuisine to go along with the cocktails for a one-stop-shop for a perfect evening. When you enjoy, please do so responsibly, and take advantage of Lancaster’s Uber and Lyft network.
At Annie Bailey’s you’ll find the beer and cider selection you come to expect at an Irish pub – but what about cocktails? Well you’re in luck because they’re doing those well too! Making the most of the local farm-fresh offerings, they’ve created cocktails that use goodies from Lancaster Central Market, like RiJuice (cold-pressed juice) and Kauffman’s apple cider.
A summer favorite at Annie Bailey’s are their cocktail popsicles, enjoyed on their sunny patio. When the temperatures start to rise, try a frozen Irish Car Bomb or a boozy rocket pop to beat the heat.
If you happen to swing by for brunch on Saturday or Sunday, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the many Bloody Mary and mimosa varieties to choose from. Opt for Old Bay, pepper or one of six other flavored vodkas for your Bloody Mary. If mimosas are more your style, flavor choices range from the classic orange to grapefruit, cranberry, and more.
The vintage vibes at the Horse Inn will take you back to the 1920s as it served as a speakeasy during Prohibition. When you make your way to one of their two bars, you’ll be greeted by a bartender and cocktail menu inspired by the past – with classic like Tom Collins, Old Fashions and Manhattans made their way plus other beautifully curated cocktails. Not only are their cocktails tasty – they’re also beautiful, and many components are freshly pressed, zested and mixed to perfection.
Must tries include the Pistol Under the Pillow (gin, pressed lemon & grapefruit, vanilla, lavender and egg white) and the Old Fashioned #2 (whiskey of your choice, brandied cherry, orange zest, Angostura & tiki bitters, and demerara).
Don’t be shy – their cocktails may feature some unfamiliar ingredients, but the bartenders are knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to selecting the drink to fit your taste.
Embracing a “garden to glass” philosophy, John J Jefferies is concocting fresh, seasonal cocktails to pair with their farm-fresh and sustainable food offerings. Many of the cocktail ingredients are made in house, grown nearby, or distilled in Pennsylvania. Each drink is made with care using freshly squeezed juices and herbs straight from the garden.
Their menu changes with the season and incorporates touches of nostalgia (think drinks like Sidecars and Collins). One of their signature drinks, the Colonial Margarita, features house made apple-raspberry shrub, El Jimador Silver tequila, and fresh citrus sours that are made in-house.
For the whiskey lover, try their award-winning Manhattan with Woodford Reserve bourbon, Carpano vermouth, Laird’s 12 year brandy, Crème Yvette, and barrel-aged orange bitters.
New to the cocktail scene in Lancaster, Stoll and Wolfe is celebrating local distilling traditions that date back to 1753. They’re distilling Pennsylvania rye whiskey and bourbon & rye blend that are well-balanced and enjoyable on their own or shine in simple cocktails.
When you visit their tasting room in Lititz, be sure to try one of their creative cocktails like the Rock & Rye (orange, lemon and pineapple infused rye) and the Sazerac (rye, Peychaud’s bitters, and absinthe rinse).
Not a whiskey or bourbon lover? You too will feel welcome when you stop by. Their vodka and gin drinks are just as good. Try the Hold Fast (grilled pineapple, brown sugar, allspice, mint and vodka) or the Negroni (gin, vermouth, and Wilbur Chocolate infused herbal liqueur).
When in Downtown Lancaster, swing by the newly renovated Pressroom for a night cap or a pre-dinner cocktail. Not only are they serving up an impressive selection of craft beers on draft, they’ve also put their famous Moscow Mule on tap – flavored with lemongrass-ginger syrup and lime.
If the weather allows, their Park Bar will be open in Steinman Park. A table by the fountain, good company and a flavorful cocktail will make for a fantastic evening in Lancaster, PA.
Their cocktails range from simple like the Mountain Pass (calvados, gentian liquor, Genepy, and hopped grapefruit bitters) to complex like the Good Medicine (blended scotch, honey-ginger syrup, lemon, Laphroaig mist, black pepper tincture).
For the ultimate cocktail experience, why not go to the source? Thistle Finch Distillery is crafting small batch white rye whiskey, gin, vodka, and straight rye whiskey here in Downtown Lancaster. With a visit to their tasting room, you can get a taste of the finished product, straight up or in an artfully crafted cocktail.
To capture the respect and time put into the spirits, Thistle Finch pairs them with house made infusions to create beautifully simple cocktails. With their vodka, they’ve created the Coming up Roses – rose vodka, house-made rosemary syrup, pressed cranberries and lemon. To highlight their rye whiskey try the classic Old Fashioned – straight rye whiskey, house made Demerara syrup, house made bitters and a twist of orange.
Thistle Finch even hosts a cocktail contest, where local bartenders are challenged to create cocktails using their locally made spirits. Cocktail connoisseurs could stop by to taste the contending drinks and support this fantastic local spot.