Ever Wonder Where the Special Came From?

By Brian McManus
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 20 | Posted Nov. 9, 2010

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Can’t argue it’ll get you shitfaced for cheap, though.

“What’s really great about the special is the bourbon,” says Marcus Kapes, bartender of 12 years at the wonderful Doobie’s (2201 Lombard St.). “Bourbon, by law, is bourbon. It’s not packed full of neutral spirits.”

Neutral spirits—not a lot of things that sound further from Rick D. than that.

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Comments 1 - 20 of 20
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1. Terry McNally said... on Nov 9, 2010 at 09:34PM

“London Grill's "Philly Special" is PBR & Powers, $5.00
More interesting is how PBR became the cult classic w hipsters to begin with: bike messengers from WA almost 2 decades ago, revived it thinking Milwaukee Brewing Co needed to be saved... Not true then and still marketing, or a "NON-marketing" issue for current owners, who say they are not owned by Miller, just brewing at Miller facilities. PBR also makes malt liquor. It's a marketing conundrum. So, make your own conclusions. Like McManus' article points out, we are all giving it away at these cheap "special" prices. I think it's interesting that this hype still continues amongst the craft beer geekdom happening at the same time. Fun stuff, I'm not judging...? BTW, did I mention that London has PBR w shots of Powers for 5 bucks?”

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2. Anonymous said... on Nov 10, 2010 at 06:56AM

“1. Had many specials at B&B's long before Tritone opened. Servied by Rick D. and the other bartenders (some who still work there and should've been interviewed).
2. Tritone special uses old Old Crow.”

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3. LKS said... on Nov 10, 2010 at 09:30AM

“Have had the special at B&B's and it is NOT JB. some rot gut crap poured sloppily from a plastic jug that the waitress could barely lift. i'm not complaining now and did not complain then- it got the job done and i had always had a good time.”

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4. Midnight Toquer said... on Nov 10, 2010 at 09:53AM

“Wow, I can't believe you got this all wrong. I was drinking Pabst and Jim Beam specials at B&B's as far back as '95. I don't think Tritone opened until '99 or 2000. Oh and B&B's owner is Jack Prince, not Price. Great reporting, dude.”

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5. The Real Truth said... on Nov 10, 2010 at 10:52AM

“Whoa. Everyone knows that the Philly Special started at a bar in St. Paul Minnesota called The Renegade. I had one there in '86, and it made its way to Philly, where it first appeared in the back room of a now-closed restaurant in Chinatown in '92. The owners were celebrating newly-elected president Bill Clinton, who they knew would open mad channels of commerce to their homeland. I thought this was common knowledge.”

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6. bingo bob said... on Nov 10, 2010 at 11:04AM

“Rick A. definately knew Rick D. for years. (a best friend)and don't deny he sees it a certain way. but this is the way it's been told to me by Rick D. himself and Jack. I've worked at B&B's for 8 years.
and it is jeam beam nothing else.
Jack wanted to book bands. Rick booked rockabilly bands that were the only things that worked in that small space. he brought in the beam to coexist with the pabst already on hand calling it a happy meal, something for that crowd. rockabilly never too off, but jack liked the special sales. to this day we put in an extra cent to denote a special on the old register to track it.
this was LOOOOONG before tritone was around.
and then years later...
ask Reds from Cisco Jeters how he sees it...he has a different take”

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7. dijion rainbows said... on Nov 10, 2010 at 12:38PM

“I can't believe this article was published with so much misinformation. The special was around way before 2001.”

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8. Anonymous said... on Nov 10, 2010 at 02:57PM

“I don't the point of this article at all. it's a shot and a beer, big deal. I got news for yall, it was happening in the 1800's in eastern central PA with the coal miners. the shot would cut through the coal dust and the beer would wash it down. Even then they were drinking better beer than PBR and the whisky was not JIM beam it was what ever Irish whisky they had left. I love how philly tries to steal from other areas and then claim to have invented it. such a sad sad city.”

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9. Dark Mark said... on Nov 10, 2010 at 04:51PM

“Comment #2 says that Tritone uses Old Crow, which isn't quite true. Tritone uses Old Crow sometimes, Heaven Hill sometimes and you can have it with Beam if you insist, but most prefer one of the other two.”

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10. pete said... on Nov 10, 2010 at 09:08PM

“I specifically remember drinking specials at B&B's
around 1996-1998, so it was before 2001...in fact
it might have been even in the early 90's when I
first had one....also it is ,"Jack Prince", not ,"Jack
Price"....a friendly bar owner if there ever was one.

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11. Anonymous said... on Nov 11, 2010 at 09:41AM

“classic Philadelphia WEAKLY reporting!”

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12. special said... on Nov 11, 2010 at 09:47PM

“Yeah, a real low here in facts. I remember the days when the Philadelphia Weekly would fact-check their stories. How do you publish a history lesson and get the simple facts wrong?”

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13. Bar Stooled said... on Nov 11, 2010 at 10:32PM

“Rick A. needs to stop drinking the Specials and giving out misinformation.”

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14. 90.9 Nerd said... on Nov 12, 2010 at 08:16AM

“I love that PBR advertises on NPR.”

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15. Anonymous said... on Nov 12, 2010 at 11:50AM

“Fiumez also has schlitz with its specials, a viable and tasty alternative to pabst.”

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16. coreycohencomedy said... on Nov 12, 2010 at 03:07PM

“No more Cantina special. They outlawed that when a "special" fueled giant fight broke out in the middle of the bar a few months back.”

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17. Anonymous said... on Nov 14, 2010 at 08:44PM

“These comments are great, the article is completely wrong - I can't tell you how many times during the 90's we dragged our asses into work on a Tuesday morning after drinking Special after Special at B&B's on a Monday night listening to Nate Wiley and the Crowd Pleasers rock the joint. Sadly Nate and the gang are long gone, they don't do jazz on Mondays anymore, they have 2 tv's on Monday Night Football, but the Special is alive and well.”

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18. Butch Ross said... on Nov 16, 2010 at 06:45PM

“As much as I'm thrilled to see another tribute to Rick D.—a true Philadelphia Rock-n-Roll hero—this article (as so many others have pointed out) is chock full of inaccuracies. B&B was selling the Special (which I believe was called the Workingman's special then) long before Tritone opened. I distinctly remember Rick D. joking to me when Tritone opened that the "special" there was a BOTTLE of Pabst because Tritone was "more upscale". Also, If the Special at Tritone switched from JB to Old Crow, it was after 2004. in my Philly days at those clubs the special was my drink of choice.

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19. Anonymous said... on Mar 3, 2014 at 11:10AM

“I remember Rick D trying to buy me a special at B and B when he was still booking Upstairs at Nicks and I was working for him. It had to be 95 - 97. I had the Pabst and ignored the shot. (ick whiskey)”

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20. Stan said... on Aug 19, 2014 at 03:06PM



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