Downtown SIPS Guide: Where to Drink and Party

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Nature Heals: A Philadelphia Sports Team has an uncertain future, cheesesteak speech is erupting on the internet, and Center City SIPS is back in full swing.

After a pandemic-induced hiatus, the happy hour all summer long citywide sponsored by the Center City District relaunched in June with a new round of beverage offers, happy hour specials and more participating locations. The unstated purpose of the promotion is to remind young professionals that getting back to the office can be a good thing, especially if it’s a gateway to clubbing on a Wednesday.

Business owners are likely hoping the revived SIPS will feel more like a summer evening than a oversized fraternal party. But even though there are a few fewer fights and body shots, some SIPS followers feel that not much has changed.

“The wild energy is still here,” TikToker Bran Edelman told Billy Penn. Now 26 years old, he has been attending SIPS since the summer of 2016, his candid guides have made his @bran_flakezz account authority on the Wednesday party scene.

“It’s like a friend you haven’t seen in years,” echoed Penny Gsell, a 25-year-old business analyst by day and content creator by night, who documents her SIPS shenanigans weekly on her TikTok. . @pennyinphilly.

There are a few big additions to SIPS this year. In addition to the usual happy hour specials, the Center City District has partnered with a range of lounges and shops, such as DFTI and Joan Shepp, to offer 25% off select products and services every Wednesday. There are also after parties, where clubs like Midtown Village’s U-Bahn and Fishtown’s ROAR doors open early for DJ sets all evening.

“These afterparties are definitely the future of SIPS,” Edelman said. “The city has figured out that during the summer weekends most people come down the shore, so the bars are really trying to capitalize on getting that market during the week.

Whether you’re a first-time SIPSer or a seasoned professional looking to revamp your post-work itinerary, Billy Penn presents an influencer-approved guide to the summer party — personally tested by this reporter.

Here’s what I found from the hub of influencer heaven (or, depending on who you ask, hell).

Beatrice Forman / Billy Penn

The basics: how can I leave work in time to get drunk on a Wednesday?

Planning for SIPS already reminds me of life three months ago, when I was planning my week so I could get dollar drinks at my college bar every Wednesday and still be able to wake up for my internship here the next morning.

If you want to hit the bars during golden hour on Wednesday, Edelman and Gsell recommend preloading your work earlier in the week. Gsell arrives at 7am on Wednesday so he can sign off early enough for the pregame.

Edelman just predicts a slow start the next day. “If you’re planning on being rowdy, make sure your Thursday morning is light on calls and light on work,” he said.

As for when to show up, that depends on exactly how ~wild~ you want to be. If you want to enjoy drink specials and unwind after a day of deliverables with a cocktail, visit as soon as SIPS begins at 4:30 p.m. But if you’re planning a wild night, Edelman suggested playing at home with friends. then head to your first destination around 6:30 p.m., where the atmosphere is more clubbery but where you can still catch up on the end of happy hour.

I left work – with intern Emily White in tow – a little after 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon with a clear mission: beat the lines, dance on a table and try as many drinks as possible.

Finally, let’s talk outfits. While it’s completely normal to show up in the casual outfit you wear to the office, Gsell told Billy Penn that SIPS is all about “energizing the main character.”

Gsell recommends matching sets, pastels and patterned shirts. But for Cass Foley, 30, former Flyers dance captain and the voice behind the TikTok lifestyle @cass_andthecitypracticality is key.

“As soon as the sun goes down, it’s cold, so you should wear pants,” Foley said.

Our advice? Don’t wear leather pants when it’s the hottest summer on record in Philadelphia (lesson learned), but pack a bag for the essentials if you’re heading to SIPS straight from work. It’s a lot harder to dance on a table if you have your desktop laptop in tow, after all.

Okay, I canceled my Thursday meetings. Where do I go out?

SIPS is about choosing your own hedonistic adventure.

For a traditional happy hour experience (you know, a table, appetizers, and minimal ass shaking), TikToker and Temple graduate student Amanda St. Paule told Billy Penn that new SIPSers should use the event to try restaurants that would normally be out of their price range.

“SIPS is lucky to be candle,” said St. Paule, 26. Her Short List of Recommendations: Upscale Mexican Restaurant Rittenhouse Tequilas for 15% off dinner; Sansom Street Italian Spot Giuseppe & Son for $6 cocktails or pasta at half price; and Dilworth Park for $5 worth of wine and a rotating DJ list.

We were looking for the opposite of a traditional happy hour experience (crowded dance floor, shitty bar glizziesand lots of shaking, so we went with a suite of @bran_flakezz-approved options – Downtown Beer GardenSIPS establishment Pagano Market and Barthen an afterparty at the U-Bahn.

Hit the bars early, but only after payday

In Uptown, we came across a Pride party hosted by Edelman, the proceeds of which went to The Trevor Project and the evening drink was a shot that tasted like a Dirty Shirley on steroids. I had three in 10 minutes and half a can of vodka soda. My credit card statement says I would have spent $50 there on drinks alone, which doesn’t particularly sound like a bargain of any kind.

Turns out it’s normal, so I drunkenly wondered: why isn’t the media talking about it? SIPS deals are surprisingly hard to find. Gsell, the business analyst on the hunt for that elusive “lead character energy,” apparently spends over $200 every time she visits SIPS.

Now broke, Emily and I hit the dance floor to find no one dancing, even though the DJ is only playing techno remixes of Gen Z Success, which I’m led to believe is what people wanted. There were, however, plenty of people standing around and sipping, so at least the name of the event rings true even if the offers are hidden.

At Paganos, the scene was not much different. We spent 20 minutes queuing behind a group of summer associates whose fake IDs mocked the bouncer before crossing the threshold of SIPS heaven: a concrete courtyard in the shadow of the financial district. of Philadelphia. Everyone was in a random form of business casual, but no one was interfering.

We met another friend here, who remarked that the atmosphere was “really cute” while sipping Red Bull watermelon and Vodka. Another highlight: I ran into a man I went on a date with last summer who will soon be my neighbor.

Philly is small, but SIPS is smaller. All the crowds have the energy of a prepubescent college dance, which leaves me wondering, “If that’s what ‘wild’ looks like, then what’s tame?”

Maybe skip the after party?

After Paganos, it’s time for the SIPS afterparty at the U-Bahn. And even though it can’t be later than 8 p.m. and the sun is still out, it feels like the deserted hours between 11 p.m. and midnight when you can’t decide whether to go home or go to another club.

Spoiler alert: we should have gone home.

The U-Bahn was absolutely deserted and smelled like the “grill scrapes” mentioned in our Herr’s flea review, although we have good authority (read: a TikTok) that it was packed and pumped later.

Turns out the unsung hero of the night was Drury Beer Gardena bar adjacent to Gayborhood with a large outdoor area and decor that is part of a dive bar and Urban Outfitters sale section.

The drinks here are also quite expensive (we spent $70 for two vodka tonics and two Jack and Cokes), but for the first time, the prices are worth it. The playlist oscillated between a healthy mix of early 2000s JLo, pre-Kardashian Kanye West and today’s Drake. The crowd was by no means wild, but people were dancing and flirting with each other and even kissing in the corner.

I danced on an elevated surface and didn’t feel bad about it, which is always a good indicator of club fun.

Ok, we did it thanks to SIPS. Will I have a hangover tomorrow?

Most likely. I was – so much so that I had to call into work the next morning with the obvious excuse of “feeling sick”.

Experts do have some standard advice, though: stay hydrated, know your limits, and tip your servers. It won’t help you with the hangover, but you’ll feel better about the amount of alcohol you’ve been drinking.

Servers at participating establishments have a complicated relationship with SIPS, between the rush of customers asking for free water and the lack of tips.

“You gotta give them a break,” said Foley, the former Flyers dancer. “Most people don’t tip, so this is probably their least favorite night out.”

The verdict?

SIPS isn’t so much a fun experience as it is a vehicle for you and your friends to get drunk – which, admittedly, can create some fun.

“It can also, however, create misery,” said Emily, the intern I forced to accompany me. It reminded us of a fraternity backyard party during the first week of class, which often aroused both emotions simultaneously.

At SIPS, you can drink a cocktail while being forced to chat with a man who has ghosted you. You can also pee in a port-a-potty after spending $70 on a cocktail quartet. It can literally offer the best of times and the worst of times, and you may be too inconsistent to decipher them.

SIPS is ultimately about the duality of humanity, and I think that’s beautiful.