The Farmer's Cabinet

Opened up last spring by Matthew and Pauline Schwartz, in the Washington Square West section of Philly,   takes its name from mid-nineteenth farming guides once published in Philly and other cities.

“A lot of our aesthetics are drawn from early American saloons, but we elevate it with live prohibition jazz every evening. We want it to be an exciting, comfortable and nostalgic drinking environment,” said Valerie Boyle, their bar manager. “The ambiance is further aided by candlelight and oil lamps.”

Valerie certainly knows her cocktails and speaks lovingly of how classics have taken over the scene here. The cocktails we know as classic really grew with the country as they were defined in the 1800s, when liquor, bitters, sugar and ice became easier to procure and quite fashionable.

“Ice,” Valerie said profoundly, “was a huge advancement of drinking culture. For instance you want a larger piece of ice for an Old Fashioned, while a Mint Julep really needs shaved ice to make a sort of slushy.”

The bar does not stand on pretension – even if you only drink vodka tonics. However, if you are a novice to the world of classic cocktails they are willing to educate you. In fact they call their menu a “cocktail program” which boasts recipes from original sources dating back to the 1800s and early 1900s.

“We are really proud to serve The Philadelphia Scotchman, a drink which originated in 1930. Despite the name there is no Scotch in it. It consists of apple brandy, ruby port, ginger syrup, orange juice and club soda,” Boyle said. “It’s a favorite at the bar.”

Of course part of their mission is to serve classic cocktails and the other is to build on classic drinks. This past summer they served up the Muriel on the Rocks made with a local gin, house-made blue Curacao, lime-juice, sugar, black Hawaiian sea salt, sage and egg whites…and they kindly shared recipe.

Murial on the Rocks
1.5 oz Bluecoat American Dry Gin 
1/2 oz blue tinted triple sec (Combier tinted with blue vegetable extract)
3/4 oz lime
3/4 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz egg white 
4 fresh sage leaves 
Black Hawaiian Sea Salt
Sage Leaves  

Build cocktail with one sage leaf, add egg white. Dry shake. Add ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into rocks glass garnished with remaining sage leaves and cracked ice. Top with black Hawaiian sage leaves and Black Hawaiian Sea Salt. 

“It really looks like the ocean captured in a glass,” Boyle said fondly.

The Farmers Cabinet
1113 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 923-1113