Steps from the Elkins Park SEPTA station, the popular restaurant’s new BYOS (Bring Your Own Spirit) program puts Martinis, Manhattans and more on the menu for the first time at a BYOB

Park Plates
7852 Montgomery Avenue, Elkins Park
(215) 782-3663
@parkplates / @park_plates / Park Plates

Best-selling cookbook author Andrew Schloss and Elkins Park BYOB Park Plates have finally solved the age-old conundrum: how to serve cocktails at a BYOB? Thanks to Schloss’s custom-crafted elixirs, the restaurant offers a tempting menu of Martinis, Cosmopolitans, Negronis, Old Fashioneds, and more. Guests need only bring one bottle, or BYOS (Bring Your Own Spirit) – their base spirit of choice – and the restaurant does the rest.

“As cocktail culture has exploded, BYOBs have largely been left behind or forced to offer more basic versions of popular drinks, usually by selling pitchers of fruit juices to which guests could add their own alcohol,” says Chef-Owner Owen Lee, whose thoughtful cooking is at the heart of Park Plates’ chef-driven menu. “But as a person who enjoys a well-made cocktail with a meal, I set out in search of a solution that would allow our guests to order from the ‘bar’ without acquiring a liquor license.”

That’s where Schloss’s Classic Crafted Cocktails come in. Recipes developed by Schloss blend botanicals to create elixirs, which incorporate flavors such as the signature spice of Dandelion & Burdock bitters or the floral notes of elderflower liqueur, and then combine them into non-alcoholic cocktail “bases” that need only the spirit itself. Cocktails that were once impossible to serve at a BYOB, such as Manhattans (made with more than one spirit: whiskey and vermouth) are now available at Park Plates.

“Bringing a bottle of liquor to ‘BYOS’ is as simple as bringing a bottle of wine or a growler of beer,” says Schloss. “This program keeps guests’ shopping to a minimum, and eliminates both the need for costly mixers and instances of unbalanced cocktails,” since the cocktail “bases” are blended beforehand.

Either in the comfortable dining room or outside on the spacious deck overlooking a small park across the street, when a guest orders a BYOS cocktail (all $6 each), their server arrives tableside with a shaker and ice, a jigger and an appropriately shaped cocktail glass with a fresh garnish. The server uses the jigger to measure out the appropriate amount of the spirit, based on the restaurant’s custom recipes; adds it to the shaker with the cocktail base; shakes or stirs; and presents a beautifully balanced cocktail that would rival any served at a full bar.

BYOS cocktails served at Park Plates (hi-res photos available upon request) include:

  • Vodka or Gin
    • Perfect Martini, elderflower elixir with dandelion bitters and a lemon twist
    • Grapefruit Cosmo, grapefruit juice with grapefruit bitters and a grapefruit ribbon
    • Negroni, Campari elixir and sweet vermouth elixir with grapefruit bitters and an orange twist
  • Tequila or Mezcal
    • Margarita, flake salt, lime juice, orange agave nectar and a lime wedge
    • Mezcal Negroni, Campari elixir and sweet vermouth elixir with an orange ribbon
  • Bourbon or Rye
    • Perfect Manhattan, sweet vermouth elixir, chocolate bitters and preserved cherry
    • Old Fashioned, citrus syrup with Boker’s bitters and an orange twist
    • Boulevardier, sweet vermouth elixir and Campari elixir with aromatic bitters and a lemon twist

Other house signature options, including the House-made Tonic G&T (grapefruit cinchona syrup, lime and sparkling water) and a traditional Daiquiri (lime juice, lime syrup and lime bitters) are also available upon request. In addition, more traditional cocktails that do not require elixirs are also on offer, including:

  • Sriracha Bloody Mary, V-8, Sriracha, citrus juices, horseradish bitters and celery
  • Rosemary Screwdriver, orange juice, grapefruit, rosemary bitters, grenadine and an orange ribbon

BYOS cocktails make an ideal pairing with Chef Lee’s seasonal, rustic-yet-refined menu, including:

  • Chilled Gazpacho with olive oil, croutons and basil
  • Grilled Octopus with olives, fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, capers, lemon and mint
  • Roasted Lamb Sirloin with feta-scallion pancakes and roasted zucchini
  • Pan-Seared Scallops with pearl couscous, pistachios, scallions and oranges

Schloss’s process for creating his elixirs is a trade secret, but as a seasoned food product developer and the author of Homemade Liquors and Infused Spirits (Storey, 2013), co-author of food science encyclopedia The Science of Good Food (Robert Rose, 2008) and recipe developer for Bitterman’s Field Guide to Bitters and Amari (Andrews McMeel, 2015), he is unusually qualified to examine the iconic flavors of boozy mixers and replicate them. The proprietary technique that he created quickly became Classic Crafted Cocktails, and Park Plates is his first and only restaurant partner at this time, making them the first place to sample these pleasing cocktails. Classic Crafted Cocktails will expand to other area restaurants with their BYOS menu in the coming months.

Chef-Owner Owen Lee has quietly served as one of the founding fathers of Philadelphia’s ongoing restaurant renaissance. His Latin-American tapas restaurant in Philadelphia, Cibucán, thrived when it debuted in 2000; today, he is proud to bring that same commitment to excellence to Elkins Park at Park Plates. His casually sophisticated, globally influenced menu draws on his Cuban ancestry and extensive travels throughout the United States, as well as Thailand, Mexico and the Caribbean, skills that he put to use as a traveling chef for The Rolling Stones, Neil Diamond and Olympic gold medalists Brian Boitano and Katarina Witt before returning to his hometown of Philadelphia. He has appeared on NPR’s nationally syndicated “A Chef’s Table” and produced a six-part series on Latin American food, music and culture, “One for the Road,” for WHYY in 2010 based on his travels. He has worked as a food stylist and menu consultant, as well as a culinary instructor at Temple University’s continuing education program. An accomplished musician and songwriter himself, he has also gigged around the Philadelphia area since the 1980s as a drummer and singer.

Park Plates is located steps from the Elkins Park train station, serviced by four regional rail lines, which makes it an ideal spot for adventurous Philadelphians to grab a bottle and enjoy BYOS cocktails. The restaurant is open from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, and until 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The BYOS menu is available throughout the evening, and guests are encouraged to sample more than one; each drink is portioned for one, allowing guests to sample several different drinks throughout their meal.

Available for comment: Chef-Owner Owen Lee
Contact: Leah Blewett / (215) 985-2106 / /  @ProfileTip /  @profiletip