Charlie Was a Sinner | Photos by Jason Varney
Just how much sinning do you like to do over dinner?
That’s a good question to chew on at Nicole Marquis’s mysterious new bar on 13th Street, where you can drink bourbon and absinthe beneath a looming hardback edition of In Cold Blood, watch sultry projections of Marilyn Monroe flicker upon the ruffles of a diaphanous wall curtain, and soak up your alcohol with food completely untainted by animal products.
In an era abounding with culinary hobgoblins—gluten for him, fructose for her, GMOs for the guy down the street—veganism still reigns unrivaled as the diet of the ethically upright. But the plant-only jawn feels a little racier at Charlie Was a Sinner, and not just because it’s next door to the last surviving porn shop on this once-seedy strip. Marquis, the woman behind HipCityVeg, named her lounge the way Elmore Leonard started crime novels. Who’s Charlie? Has he—or she—repented? Exactly what sort of sin are we talking about here?
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Stateside has made a name for itself on East Passyunk as having one the best happy hours in the city. The gastropub in South Philadelphia is known for its bartenders’ fondness for pouring small American distilleries and domestic beer. In keeping with these trademark craft cocktails, Stateside bartender Katherine Petronaci shared her summer drink recipe for Why Isn’t This Purple.
Shaken, not stirred.
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People go to bars for all kinds of reasons. To hang out with neighbors over three-dollar lagers. To knock back Beam-and-Pabst specials while stomping their feet to liquor-drinking music. To find out what happens when an eccentric teetotaler mixes a vast booze library with grapes juiced to order. To be quiet and get drunk.
In other words, to escape. And if Philadelphia is what you want to get away from, you need travel no further than to the bar at Volver.
Like the ticketed-entry dining room it abuts in the Kimmel Center, Jose Garces’ champagne-and-caviar lounge is in Philadelphia but not quite of it. Look one way and your eyes fall on a marbled white bar lit by the glow of four sleek halos that could have been commissioned by Starfleet. Look another—at an ultra-saturated blue textile mural crafted by local artist Conrad Booker out of 4,000 buttons and 200 yards of deeply dyed burlap—and you feel like you’ve warp-tunneled your way into Pedro Almodóvar’s Madrid. Meanwhile a soft-footed fleet of servers patrols the ebony-stained floorboards wearing black quasi-judo jackets trimmed with Jupiter orange, like a squad of acrobatic assassins waiting for Roger Moore to request a shaken martini.
It is a very, very cool place to sit down for an hour.
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Sazerac at Southwark
Southwark gets a nice national accolade. The Queen Village bar and restaurant is recognized as one of the Best Bars in America by Food & Wine. The magazine praises the bar as a “pioneer in the resurgence of classic cocktails in Philadelphia.”
It isn’t the first time that Southwark has been so honored. Back in 2011, it and Franklin Mortgage both made the list.
Best Bars in America – Southwark [Food & Wine]
Tonight, Emmanuelle is screening the Coen brothers “O Brother Where Art Thou” and are offering cocktails inspired by the film. Mike “Juice” Treffehn of Franklin Mortgage will be joining Emmanuelle’s Phoebe Esmon behind the bar.
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Adam Erace has some problems with the food at the Gaslight, but that’s nothing compared to what he had to say about the drinks.
The Gaslight, the new bar/restaurant from Jason Cichonski, a chef whose reputation is built — fairly or unfairly — on equal parts scallop noodles and sex appeal. When he and Nick Elmi first encountered each other on the last season of Top Chef, Elmi looked at Cichonski’s pastel pink shorts and quipped, “You look like you just got off a yacht.”
I felt like I was on one at The Gaslight, that’s about how rocky the food was, but the cocktails were even weirder. This list appears to have been curated by a Cherry Hill bachelorette party, with confections bearing names like Pirate Hooker (a red currant Bellini, because who doesn’t want that at 9:30 p.m.?) and Hello Kitty, a martini whose fruity flavors (green tea, lychee, strawberry) make more sense together at Old City Frozen Yogurt down the street.
Tragically named cocktails aren’t the only missteps at The Gaslight [City Paper]
The Gaslight [Foobooz]
In this week’s City Paper, Adam Erace takes a look at the history of milk punch and the version that Vincent Stipo of Vernick Food and Drink has on his menu. Meal Ticket also has Stipo’s recipe for milk punch in case you’re looking for a weekend project.
Otherwise try milk punch for yourself at Vernick, or make it a vertical tasting and get a second version of the historical drink from George Costa at Petruce et al.
Cocktail to try: Milk Punch [City Paper]
Recipe: Vernick’s Milk Punch [Meal Ticket]
The first-come-first serve part of Jose Garces’s Volver opens to the public tonight. Bar Volver is a champagne and caviar lounge that will feature a selection of small bites including oysters, cheese, charcuterie and three varieties of caviar. Bar manager Gordana Kostovski has created a menu of cocktails designed to pair well with the food coming from Garces’s kitchen. Also available to the Bar Volver customer will be over 1,500 bottles of old and new world wines with a particular focus on sparkling wines.
Highlights and the full menu »
One of the most asked queries that land in our inboxes over the past few months is just what is coming to the corner of 2nd and Pine Streets, the longtime home of the Artful Dodger. Requests for information have gone unanswered and now, less than a week before the grand opening details have finally been revealed.
Michael Klein gets the details on Reed Barrow’s first bar and restaurant, Society Hill Society. The neighborhood tavern concept will have JG Domestic and Rosa Blanca chef de cuisine, Yun Fuentes in the kitchen where he will be serving up a menu “inspired by classic Pennsylvania flavors, served in a casual atmosphere.”
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We gave you a look inside Petruce et al earlier this week as they were preparing for tonight’s opening. And now we have Petruce’s opening drink list. A list that is particularly interesting with the dynamic duo of Tim Kweeder and George Costa.
The list includes classic cocktails as well as some interesting “new school” versions as well. A small but interesting wine selection is available by glass and bottle. Beers are available on draft as well as beer and bottle.
Petruce et al drink list »