When the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia debuted in the fall of 2012, one particular feature blared from the headlines with great new promise: there would be a very high-profile rooftop bar up on the 11th floor. Maybe not earth-shattering news in NYC or LA, but at the time Philly (already one of our fave nightlife destinations) was vividly lacking in such lofty drinking establishments.
Six+ years later, the Stratus Rooftop Lounge is still one of the sexiest spots in the city. Open year round, there’s actually something decidedly European about the overall vibe and aesthetic – as if it might be found crowning a plush hotel in Munich or Rome. It also boasts one of Philadelphia’s top drinks alchemists, in the person of Mirek Struniaski – with a cocktail program full of surprises. The Dismembered, for instance, mixes Bulleit Rye, crème de cacao a la vanilla, peppermint bitters, Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe. There’s also a rotating selection of cocktails on draft.
The hotel itself – where we checked in just recently – apart from its location amidst Old City’s teeming restaurant scene, has much to recommend it. First, its own Red Owl Tavern does regional dishes (winter squash panzanella, lamb shank cassoulet) with an international flair in a rustic-chic setting, and is buzzing at weekday lunchtime. The Monaco also has one of those great lounging lobbies, done up in an array of smartly mismatched neo-baroque / neo-classical furnishings and zodiac artworks. The space hosts a sociable wine reception for guests every evening – we made new friends, one was a dog.
The stylistic playfulness extends to the rooms, which have baroque-detailed wall coverings and curtains, Empire style armchairs (ours was embossed with a dachshund silhouette – neato!), Chinoiserie cabinets, and dramatic 1920s-style fringe lamps. We particularly loved the dramatic view of historic Philadelphia from our window.
Still and all, it was the Stratus that really had us swooning – and Mr. Struniaski was good enough to enlighten us as to the magic behind a few of his signature creations. Try them at home…but absolutely make haste to sip them in situ at the Monaco sooner than later.
Stratus Rooftop Lounge Signature Cocktails
Butterfly pea infused Tanqueray 10
Johnnie Walker Black
Gosling’s Black Rum
Casanova No 2
cayenne (served hot)