Holiday pop-up bars generally follow the same pattern every season: open after Thanksgiving, close with the New Year. But The Holiday House pop-up in Market Square is breaking from tradition and setting up shop indefinitely as Emerson's, an intimate cocktail lounge and restaurant.
Emerson’s is owned by the same team behind Market Street Grocery — Ralph and Mimi Falbo, David and Rachel Priselac, and Chad Rapp — and is located one floor above the popular Market Square store. The team succeeded in bringing the neighborly atmosphere of the market to their newest concept; if anything, Emerson’s is even cozier than the wine bar and market below it.
It was designed around the idea of “found luxury,” which Rachel Priselac described as a blend of three things: their love for California, history, and Parisian cocktail bars, all tied together in a traditional restaurant setting.
California has inspired their newer lounge space, filled with cushy couches, chairs, and a roaring fireplace. The bar area maintains the “deteriorated” history of the building, a beautifully restored 19th-century commercial space. The decor matches the “chic but unrefined” look of Parisian bars.
Cocktails and natural wines are the primary focus of the menu. Emerson’s operates under a different liquor license than the market’s bar, which allows them to carry a wider range of spirits. (The grocery can only carry liquor and beer made in Pennsylvania.)
The cocktail list is built on standards such as the Moscow mule and the old fashioned, but not without a bit of personality. A sparkling Negroni — the gin swapped for sparkling wine – is bright and refreshing. Rosemary finishes off Emerson’s otherwise standard gin and tonic; the Manhattan, finished with a skewer of cherries, is reliable and tasty.
The wine selection reflects the list downstairs, many from Collefrisio, a vineyard based in Abruzzo, Italy. Emerson’s current natural wine offerings are white, Syrah, and pinot noir. For beer drinkers, there’s a short draft list — featuring local selections from East End Brewing Co. and Arsenal Cider House — along with various bottles and cans. A small list of local charcuterie, personal-sized pizzas, and other bites round out the menu.
Finding the bar is Emerson’s biggest complication. There are two entrances: one adjacent to the grocery, the other located off of Graeme Street behind the store. Both entrances are well-marked with signs, but for those still wary, Emerson’s has a map posted on its Instagram page.
Emerson’s. 435 Market St., Downtown. Instagram: @emersonmarket