Old-school cocktails are often named after places. The Singapore Sling. The Moscow Mule. A signature drink for seemingly every corner of New York, from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Even Long Island gets its tea.
But Philadelphia places honored at the bar? Not so much. The arrival of the Termini bakery family’s Giuseppe & Sons in Center City and its red-gravy Italian nostalgia mission, however, has put quite a few South Philly-inspired pins on the cocktail map. And they evoke the image of unique places by name, at least, if not necessarily by flavor.
For example, I have no idea whether folks in Girard Estates actually drink sparkling Prosecco-tequila-grapefruit cocktails like the one named “Girard Estates” at Giuseppe. But Mexican South Philly isn’t far. And I can picture that going down one balmy day on one of those gracious rowhouse porches. The Iseminger, named for one of South Philly’s sporadic little north-south streets, artfully blends a shot of espresso liqueur with applejack, vermouth and Fernet bitters. The Mifflin has a fruitier tang, its rye and herbal Ramazzotti duo rounded with lemon and Italian craft cola from Baladin.
The 10th & Tasker involves a deeper backstory. It was named by co-owner Joey Termini after a favorite corner (now occupied by Fountain Porter) and inspired by one of the favorite liqueurs, the herbal green digestivo known as Strega, of his father, Vince Termini Sr. The Giuseppe team, faced with Strega shortage thanks to a Pennsylvania state store closeout on the product, decided to craft its own, a witch’s brew of licorice root, fennel and mint with green cardamom, saffron, juniper berries and vanilla bean tinged with orange zest. A nutty dash of Frangelico, honey and lemon dial it into balance with the booze-forward base of Maker’s Mark bourbon. And with a chunk of honeycomb dangling from its swizzle skewer, beverage director Jefferson Oatts says, it has fast become one of Senior’s favorite drinks.
“Where’s my 10th and Tasker?” he often says when the bakery patriarch shows up for quality-control duties. And within moments, the answer is apparent: That South Philly corner is waiting for him in cocktail form on the corner of his new Center City bar.
— Craig LaBan