by Sequoia Medley for the Passyunk Post
Michael’s Place is a shot-and-beer corner bar where you can literally see the layers of history — from the weathered wooden bar with its brass rail to the decades of photos on the wall. It’s also the kind of bar that’s slowly disappearing. There’s a cigarette machine on one wall, and a single pool table that’s free on Tuesdays. The doors open at 7am and there’s no food menu. But it’s not stuck in the past.
Michael’s Place draws a healthy crowd of all drinking ages — from daily regulars who know about the secret specials to hipsters interested in the cheapest citywide left in Philly. The bar bridges the contradictions of the changing neighborhood around it and serves as a place where everyone is welcome . If you come in often enough, everyone will learn your name.
Speaking of names – the bar’s name is a bit of a misnomer – it’s actually co-owned by Michael Bordoni and Perry Cavalieri who “go way back.” Back in the day, their fathers co-owned J&D Billiards Parlor, a second-story pool hall on Passyunk and Moore. That bar was located above a florist and beneath a boxing gym where the renown Joey Giradello trained. A 1963 Sports Illustrated article with photos and a description of the pool hall is framed on the wall near the pool table.
Michael bought the existing bar on the corner of 12th and Mifflin “maybe 20 years ago” and fixed it up. Perry came in about five years later. Dates and timelines don’t matter so much when you’re talking about families that have spent generations in East Passyunk.
The bar has local brews on tap, and the aforementioned $4 citywide, which you can customize with different pours for the same price. Prices are approachable, and the atmosphere encourages lingering and chatting with your neighbor. The bar gives back to the community around them. There’s a canned food drive before Thanksgiving, a toy drive at Christmas, and the owners likes to helpthe neighborhood that supports them.
Although the offerings here aren’t the high-end flights or rarefied bottles available on nearby East Passyunk Avenue, you can still get a good pour of a solid 12-year, or an easy-drinking blended scotch. Perry’s recommendation: “If you’re a Dewar’s drinker, switch up to J&B – it’s smoother and less sweet.” He’s a Glenlivet man, personally, and the bar also has Chivas.
Perry likes to start the weekend with a scotch on Friday when his wife gets home from work, “in the tradition of other famous drinkers, like Rat Packers Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.” He posted his toasts to “Scotch Friday” on Facebook. Soon, neighbors started greeting him with “Scotch Friday!” when they saw him on the street. Others began tagging him on social media as they raised their own glass.
So start your weekend off right – join Perry, Michael, and the other Michael’s Place devotees for Scotch Friday. You don’t need to be a spirits snob to take part — just show up and ask the bartender for their recommendation.
Weekends are usually quieter at the bar and Friday evenings tend to be slower than a Monday.
1142 Mifflin Street
Monday – Saturday 7 am – 2 am;
Sunday 10 am – 2 am