Watching the minutes tick by on the upper right corner of your monitor can be tedious work on any Friday afternoon. But in the summer, it feels like the whole day is happening in slow motion. It’s 80 degrees and sunny - or at least it looks like it from the one window on the other side of the office - and you’ve been staring at the same Excel spreadsheet for hours.
Whether you work at a company that recognizes the reality of the situation and just lets everyone out at 2 or 3pm, or you’re just sneaking out of the office because your boss already left for the shore on Wednesday, here are some places you can go have a drink when you escape from the office early at the end of the week.
It’s Friday at 2:55pm and every single person in your office is staring at the clock like it’s 1998 and you’re living the ...Baby One More Time music video. If you don’t suggest taking off for Harper’s Garden as soon as the clock strikes 3pm, you might be stuck waiting for somewhere to sit outside. But once you’re out on the plant-covered deck, you won’t want to leave. They have a great wine and summery cocktail list, as well as a bunch of small plates, from Moroccan lamb meatballs to tomato and prosciutto pie, that are delicious and perfect for sharing.
The best thing about Summer Fridays is that they feel like a Fast Pass to bars that generally hit capacity by 6pm on every nice night between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Frankford Hall is one of those busy spots, and getting there mid-afternoon gives you the opportunity to take over one of the long, umbrella-covered tables and hold it down until your less-fortunate friends show up. It also has some of the best beer-hall food you’ll find in the city (get the giant pretzel or a spicy sausage), and a few Jenga sets that are always making their way around the patio.
There’s always one guy in the office who goes out of his way to make sure everyone knows how into beer he is. No, Pat, I don’t have six shelves of pint glasses from every brewery I’ve visited on display around my cubicle. For your next office Happy Hour, suggest going to IBG - where Pat can nerd out on all the Philly breweries they have on draft while you pick whichever beer is cheapest. The space is big, with lots of long tables, hanging plants, and lawn games like corn hole, which should distract Pat from trying to stuff a pint glass into his bag for at least a while.
Cantina Los Caballitos has one of the best Happy Hours in the city, and it’s even better when it’s warm enough to sit outside on their patio. The large, outdoor space with umbrella-covered tables is right off East Passyunk, and from 4-6pm on weeknights you can get a $16 frozen margarita pitcher to split between you and a few coworkers. Pair that with some nachos or a plate of shrimp tacos and you have the perfect reason to take a Summer Friday every Friday until Labor Day - even if they’re not technically sanctioned by your superiors.
Standard Tap is a great bar in Northern Liberties to hang out at all year round, but their rooftop deck makes it an especially valuable place when all of your friends use their Summer Fridays to get a head start on shore traffic. You and whoever else wasn’t able to get away for the weekend should leave work early and head here for a few self-pity beers and maybe a burger or two. It might not be a beach, but it’s certainly better than the office.
When you want your Summer Friday to last until Saturday, head straight from your office to Graffiti Bar. The small-ish bar hidden in the alley behind Sampan turns from casual Happy Hour spot to full-on party when the scorpion bowl drinks start coming out. You can also order small bites like kung pao chicken wings and edamame dumplings from the Sampan kitchen, but you’re probably not here to do much eating - at least not on a Friday night when the tables are already covered with a bunch of giant punch bowls.
If you work anywhere near Old City, your tolerance for waiting in line behind indecisive tourists at every bar is probably at an all-time low around mid-July. So you may be skeptical of a place that’s about a block from Independence Hall, but this bar is the most low-key one you’ll find in the area. It’s essentially just an empty lot next to Sto’s filled with a few picnic tables, some corn hole boards, and a bunch of beach chairs that people bring themselves. The small tiki shack you order from has tons of local canned beers, and you’re pretty much guaranteed that you won’t be discovered unless someone’s gotten completely lost on their way to the Constitution Center.
If at the end of a long week all you want to do is decompress with a glass of wine or two on a nice, quiet patio, Barcelona Wine Bar is where you want to be. While it can get a little bit crazy when 8pm rolls around, it’s almost spa-like in the daytime. There are lots of palms on the patio, the wine list is long, and there are enough tapas dishes - from bacon-wrapped dates to eggplant caponata - to constitute either a midday snack or a full dinner.
Most of the bars in Center City feel corporate, but Drury Beer Garden is the opposite. It’s a large, brick-walled courtyard behind Opa with a bicycle hanging from the wall, a bunch of mismatched tables, and an old wooden bar that we’re pretty sure someone on the staff built back in 1995. Plus, they have a substantial cocktail list with things like a watermelon mule, Greek food from Opa to go with your drink, and occasionally even live cover bands doing their best rendition of Like A Prayer or Teenage Dream.
The start-up you’ve been working for in a converted Fishtown warehouse is super casual, and even on random Tuesdays in the middle of the winter you’ll crack open a beer at 3pm. But it’s a Summer Friday, so instead of drinking that PBR in front of your computer, you should be doing it outside. The best place to do that is Kostas, a Greek bar and restaurant on Girard. They have a hidden back patio that rivals the ones at Garage and Frankford Hall, but without the long lines. During Happy Hour, pair the $2 drafts with any of the solid Greek bar food options like fries covered in feta and oregano and pita sandwiches.
During the summer, all of your coworkers suddenly seem to think that Thursday is the beginning of the weekend, which can make for some tough Friday mornings in the office. Fortunately, you’ll only have to spend a few hours staring blankly at your unopened emails until you can refuel with some enchiladas and maybe even some frozen margaritas. Plus, because it’s located off the main Rittenhouse stretch, it’s quiet and kind of hidden - meaning that once you’ve finished off the last bite of mole, you can head home and spend the rest of the night in bed with your dog.