When founder Rosemarie Certo and the rest of the team behind Dock Street Brewing realized they’d have some extra space around the spot leased to host their new canning line, they decided to turn it into a tasting room and bar. But not just any bar — the bar of their dreams.
What does the dream bar from a Philly-born, woman-run, community-focused brewery look like? Basically, one that’s all-local, all the time.
“We’ve always wanted to do local sourcing,” said Dock Street VP Marilyn Candeloro, noting that sustainable and local ingredients do not come cheap. The company’s desire to make sure the brewpub at 50th and Baltimore is accessible to neighborhood residents and their families, she explained, means keeping price points low and the menu simple. “People who come in want their pizza, and they want it now.”
Since the brewpub takes care of that, there’s a lot more freedom with the new spot, which is right around the corner from the main facility. That doesn’t mean it’s super expensive — food dishes will range from approximately $6 to $12 and cocktails will hover between $8-$12 and top out at $13 — but it does mean the options can be a bit more high-end and flamboyant. It also means full steam ahead on the local sourcing idea.
When the Cannery opens to the public on Thursday, April 27, all of the booze behind the 10-seat bar will come from local spirits producers. And the food, including lots of veg-friendly options, will be made using local ingredients whenever possible.
Because the Dock Street Brewpub kitchen already works at capacity, the Cannery won’t ask chef Philip “PJ” Freeman to turn out any more dishes on the fly. Instead, he’ll prepare various salads, tarts, pates and other dips in advance and then plated to order by bar staff. He’s also getting an assist from Steve Laurence and Damien Patterson Jr. of South Philly catering outfit Vegan Commissary, who’ll provide other bites.
Suzanne Adams of the West Chester Food Co-op is consulting on finding various local farmers and growers to work with, and Dock Street connected with Ann Karlen of Fair Food Philly to connect with local cheesemakers to stock an ever-changing cheese plate.
Bartender Josh Dressel has a thing for beer cocktails. “There’s already so much flavor and body in beer that it’s like you’re already three quarters of the way there,” he said. “I always think less is more, and this way it’s easy to make simple combinations that taste amazing.” He’s been playing around with recipes that meld brew with spirits every since joining the brewpub staff a couple of years ago, and now his creativity finally has a chance to shine.
Dressel’s opening drink list pulls from an assortment of six Dock Street beers on tap, plus a lineup of booze from Manatawny Spirits, Bluebird Distilling, Dad’s Hat Rye, Palmer Distilling, Stateside Vodka and of course Vicio mezcal, which is produced for and imported by sister company Dock Street Spirits. There will also be a local wine on tap, currently a chardonnay from Doylestown’s Stone and Key Cellars.
To start, tasting room hours will be 4 to 11 p.m. Thursdays and 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Here’s a look at some of what to expect when you visit.
The Doughy Negroni
This classic cocktail has come back in style of late, but none of the various twists around town are like this one. Spring Haze Pale Ale is added to the classic combo of Campari, sweet vermouth and gin (Liberty gin from Palmer Distilling), plus a splash of fresh lemon juice. All the ingredients are combined and allowed to meld, then served carbonated on tap, so the whole drink has a citrusy buzz that’s perfect for summer.
Dock ‘n’ Stormy
Another classic turned on its head in refreshing fashion. The traditional rum is there (Bluebird Distilling), as is the squeeze of fresh lime. But instead of ginger beer, Dressel uses actual beer — Rye IPA, specifically — plus a splash of ginger ale and dash of housemade cayenne syrup for some extra kick.
There are two secret ingredients that make this original creation something to remember: Housemade elderflower syrup made with a touch of local honey, and the splash of beer, which is Dock Street’s IPA (ask why brewery staff calls it the “$50,000 IPA” if you want a fun story about not playing the lottery because beer is better). Also in the mix go Liberty gin and some fresh grapefruit and lemon juice. Just try not to drain the whole glass in one sip.
The Berliner Vice
Would folks from Germany’s capital city indulge in this if they could? Very likely. Smoky Vicio mezcal meets tart and sweet Blood Orange Berliner Weisse for a totally unique flavor experience. With the finishing twist of lemon, it’s sultry and bright all in one sip.
Dock Street Old Fashioned
No beer in this one, but Dressel envisions it as a signature cocktail that won’t leave the menu. Good news, because the combo of Dad’s Hat Rye with Peychauds bitters and his special syrup — made from hickory-smoked orange, clove, cardamom, black pepper, star anise and a touch of ginger — is a serious keeper.
The Garden Tonic
Candeloro is an avowed gin and tonic hater, but this version with Q Tonic is something she enjoys. That’s probably thanks to Dressel’s lavendar-rosemary syrup, which softens Liberty gin’s juniper notes, and the fresh cuke slices he shakes but doesn’t muddle, “so it’s not like you’re getting punched in the face with a cucumber.”
Spent Grain Pretzels + Vegan Whiz
This bar snack is at least 25 times better than the name sounds — even if you’re not vegan. Vegan Commissary’s Patterson picks up spent grain from Dock Street’s Rye IPA brew, then dries it out and grinds it into a flour. The flour is then turned into crunchy-chewy pretzel sticks that are dusted with fennel salt, and it’s all service with an orange, Whiz-like dipping sauce made from coconut milk and lots of onions and spice.
Pate or Rillettes Crostini
Chef Freeman turns local chicken livers into a salty and creamy pate, and creates a rich rillette from local duck meat. Either one is served with an assortment of toasts and some other condiments on the side — roasted dessert pears, for example, or a spicy kumquat mostarda. Each also comes with a scoop of lemon-dijon carrot salad.
Dock Street is working with Primordia Mushroom Farm on a variety of options, including a mini, personal-sized quiche that you won’t want to share. Also on deck is an Italian dish called mushroom sott’olio — bascially marinated ‘shrooms that are stored “under oil” for extra flavor.