You may have heard of Rival Bros. coffee, but never quite like this.
The brains behind the well-known Philly brand recently debuted a new European-inspired cafe and cocktail bar, Enswell, in their old cafe space. By day, the bar/eatery that sits at 1528 Spruce Street operates as a new cafe with tea, coffee, espresso and some bites on the menu, while at night, the venue offers cocktails (many coffee-inspired) and imaginative small plates that complement the libations.
For this new project, Rival Bros.’ own Jonathan Adams and Damien Pileggi partnered with New Liberty Distillery for some of the menu items, and Stokes Architecture + Design for the atmosphere.
“The inspiration for Enswell is really rooted in European café culture; we want Enswell to be a place anyone can go for coffee, a cocktail, or glass of wine, and even a bite virtually any time of day,” explains co-founder Damien Pileggi in a statement. “The design of the space speaks to this too, striking a perfect balance between old-world sensibilities with the casual ease of Philadelphia.”
As Pileggi said, Enswell Philly is Parisian in its fixtures, but very Philly in its architecture. When you look at the ceiling, you see the historic structure and charm of the building that only this city has, but while looking around, the brasserie-esque room is filled with bright lights, gold fixtures and clean artwork that sets the tone to make you feel transported somewhere else entirely.
And the food and libations just take everything up a notch.
Enswell Philly offers its cocktails as the “backbone” of its offerings, and when you sip on one, it’s clear why—the spirited sips pay homage to the roots of it all with Rival Bros coffee figured into some recipes, and there’s a little something for everyone.
Enswell’s cocktail menu celebrates Pennsylvania-made spirits — powered by New Liberty Distillery — and redefines the integrity of the coffee cocktail category across classic and coffee-infused full and zero-proof drinks (ranging from $12-16), plus local beer and wine, a release states.
Some stand-outs? For one, there’s the “Haymaker” made with whistle & cuss espresso, Moscatel cask whiskey, house orgeat and instant coffee cream—and yes, it’s as smooth as it sounds. For those looking to ditch the caffeine, there is also the “Violet Shading” made with local creme de violette, gin, lemon and egg white on the other end of the spectrum for stand-outs. Additionally, the space offers a dedicated bottle shop of New Liberty Distillery and Rival Bros. products.
“Our partnership with New Liberty Distillery goes back to 2021 when we launched our Bourbon Barrel Aged Rival Bros. coffee beans, which are rested in their oak barrels,” explains co-founder Jonathan Adams in a statement. “We’re confident their artfully made, and delicious, local spirits will help propel Enswell to a world-class beverage program.”
The libations, which span their take on Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, Sazeracs and other spirited picks, look as good as they taste. But it seems that attention to detail is part of the ingredient list not only with the bar-side, but also the kitchen side of Enswell.
The venue’s kitchen is run by Executive Chef Andrew Farley, who formerly worked with High Street on Market and Pub & Kitchen, and what Philadelphians can expect is a menu of contemporary small plates, ranging $12-$30 with contemporary and French accents.
Firstly there’s the jambon serrano, which spans ham, kettle chips and sour cream dip. It’s simple at its core, yet so powerful in taste. Moving on up, Enswell also offers bites like garlic knot Parker House rolls, grilled mission figs, skate milanese and even an assortment of cheeses—all of which is plated and situated as beautifully as the space you dine in. The absolute stand-out from the food menu however is the dirty shrimp cocktail made with parsley, olive, lemon and capers.
Dessert-wise, Philadelphians are also in for a treat with a few tasty options (one of which is a passed-down recipe), including an ice cream that tastes like corn pops with a strawberry crumble.
The experience overall is one that essentially transports you somewhere luxurious, but also comforting with plush booths, large arm chairs to sit in and then some higher seats at the bar. The space is bright as soon as you walk in, yet dimly lit enough to set the tone—a combo made even more so apparent within the details, which is par for the course for a building with so much history.
Visitors, foodies and those looking for a memorable way to dine can enjoy it for themselves (but not by reservation, as Enswell works with walk-ins only.) And likely, you’ll find your next favorite spot to stop in no matter what you’re in the mood for.
Operating day-to-night, Enswell will offer coffee service and pastries from 7 to 11 a.m.; the bar and kitchen open for midday service from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Evening service runs from 5 to 10 p.m. on weeknights and until midnight on weekends. For more information, visit enswellphilly.com