National Mechanics: Philly
22 S 3rd St btw Market and Chestnut St, Philadelphia PA
The Place: An American pub in a former bank building in the Old City neighborhood of Philly (and Philly's known for making new things out of old things, right?).
The Time: Friday July 7, 5:15pm. I’m here for a few days visiting a friend, another talented theater maker, of course, because who else do I have time to be friends with. He had a production meeting for the show he’s developing, so I had 45 minutes to myself and what better use of my time than drinking alone (if you think I should’ve gone to the Liberty Bell, keep it to yourself, k?).
The Vibe: Holy shit this place is packed and did I mention it’s inside an old bank? So it’s ENORMOUS and packed. Philly knows how to turn up on a Friday for happy hour. I make my way to one of the few empty bar stools, decidedly away from a guy with a laptop because a guy coding at a bar is someone you maybe want to stay away from. Christmas lights, action figures and a fake dog head wearing a wig fill the back wall, along with liquor bottles. There is a disco ball in the middle of the high ceiling. Because there are so many people here, I can’t get a general sense of who’s here; seems like people from all walks of life. Which is the vibe I get from Philly as whole: a weird, wonderful melting pot.
The Bartender: A nice smiley man-bunned redheaded guy who I don’t talk to that much because he and the other bartender are working a mile a minute.
The Drank: Strongbow Cider for $3. I make this choice because it is $3. I ask Mr. Manbun if he had any other cider, and he says “not for happy hour, just Strongbow for $3” to which I say “sold!” Actually I say “oh yeah that’s GREAT” and he says he thought so, he saw it on my face. Glad my facial expression reads “I am a cheapskate.” Strongbow is generally too sweet for me but do I need to tell you again that it’s $3?
Was I Hit On? Within 5 minutes of being here, a man in his late 30s asks if the seat next to me is taken. I say no. Then he tells me all about how he didn’t want to be a dick by sitting right in the middle of four empty chairs, because he’s a “nice guy.” I am dismissive of him pretty fast because I’m really into my book and because I have no interest in hearing about how nice of a guy he is. He quickly starts chatting up the woman who sits on his other side so I am not special and I am not offended and actually very pleased that I will not be the one to entertain him. I overhear that his name is Jack and he just moved to Philly for work and he’s still apartment hunting. The woman drops the boyfriend bomb and after another minute, he stops talking to her. Gave up, huh pal? He then asks me a question but I pretend I don’t hear him. Soon Jack chugs the rest of his beer and leaves. End of play.
Should You Drink Here Alone? Uh. Yeah? I guess? Idk I’m now skilled at reading in loud places so I was fine, but if you’re looking for a relaxed and chill vibe, this is not the place for you. National Mechanics would be great for groups or happy hour with a friend. I saw more than one plate of yummy-looking nachos whiz past me so that’s a good sign. It’s an American bar in a truly American city.