Federal Distilling Room Now Open in Kensington

Matthew and Bryan Quigley with partner Clement Pappas | Photo by Arthur Etchells

Matthew and Bryan Quigley with partner Clement Pappas | Photo by Arthur Etchells

Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood becomes more of a destination for distilling fans with the opening of the Federal Distilling Room at 1700 North Hancock Street. The bar connects to Federal Distilling’s distillery and serves the distillery’s flagship Stateside Vodka in addition to a wide variety of other spirits, wine and beer.

Founders Matt and Bryan Quigley have gone with a full bar over just a tasting room in order to cater to a wider audience. Even three years in, the brothers haven’t been able to convert their mother from wine to vodka.

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New Drinks and Hours at Saint Benjamin’s Tap Room

Saint Benjamin Brewing's Tap Room | Photo by Kelly Alderfer

Saint Benjamin Brewing’s Tap Room pre-opening | Photo by Kelly Alderfer

Saint Benjamin Brewing Company is upping their game (and their selection at the Tap Room).

The  Saint Benjamin’s Tap Room will now offering a full cocktail menu. All spirits will be sourced locally, and they will also be serving local wines and mead too. If you haven’t been keeping up, craft distilling is booming and here in Philly we have some of the very best.

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Cops: “Vicious” Predator Eyed in Four Kensington Attacks

Special Victims Unit Capt. Mark Burgmann (left) says the man shown on surveillance footage has attacked three women and possibly killed a fourth in Kensington.

Special Victims Unit Capt. Mark Burgmann (left) says the man shown on surveillance footage is wanted for questioning in the attacks of three women and the murder of a fourth in Kensington.

Did the gruesome stabbings and rapes start in April, or earlier? Is he getting more comfortable, the butcher who preys on prostitutes in Kensington, bold enough to strike twice in the same day?

These are among the questions gnawing at detectives who are trying to track down a madman before he strikes again.

Police on Thursday re-released surveillance footage of a man who allegedly sexually assaulted a female prostitute on Jasper Street near Buckius on July 12th — after he beat and choked her unconscious — in an attempt to hopefully garner enough information to identify him.

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Kensington Looks for Hope After Brutal Attacks on Prostitutes

Surveillance footage of suspect wanted for a July 12th sexual assault and attempted murder in Kensington. (Philadelphia Police)

Surveillance footage of suspect wanted for a July 12th sexual assault and attempted murder in Kensington. (Philadelphia Police)

A tiny pink sign sits on the ground at the edge of an empty lot in Kensington, calling out a reassuring message from the dirt and the grass: “GOD IS LOVE.” A wisp of yellow crime scene tape intrudes on that thought, drooping in the humid air from a cyclone fence. This is where a madman butchered Rickie Morgan.

The 35-year-old woman was bludgeoned with a brick and fatally stabbed late Saturday on Cumberland Street near Jasper. She tried to escape, running naked for a block until she collapsed from her injuries. The scene was every bit as gruesome as it sounds. “She was bloody from head to toe,” a police captain told NBC 10 that night.

Morgan was a prostitute. She was also a mother, according to her friends, and an avid reader who liked to talk about theology and the nature of the universe—the way life worked, or didn’t. Those who were close to her will gather for a vigil at 2 p.m. today in Kensington. They’ll mourn, but they’ll also be on high alert. Investigators believe the man who killed Morgan might have also been involved in other recent violent attacks of prostitutes in the area. Read more »

An Axe-Throwing Club Is Coming to Kensington

A near-bullseye throw at Urban Axes

My almost bullseye at the future site of Urban Axes in Kensington.

I must look stupid.

I have this fear a lot, but this time I’m sure of it: My left foot is forward, and my weight is all on my back foot. My hands are in front of me, and I’m trying to remember to keep my wrists at a 90-degree angle. Oh, and I’m holding a 1.5-pound axe. I pull my hands back behind my head, thrust them forward and release.

Thunk. The axe handle hits the wooden board 10 feet in front of me, then bounces harmlessly to the floor. “Maybe you actually need to move up,” my instructor says. “And keep those wrists straight!” Despite my errors, I think I’m getting the hang of it.

I’m at Urban Axes, the new axe-throwing space in Kensington a few blocks from the York-Dauphin El stop in the former Sazz Vintage warehouse. My instructor is Lily Cope, the former executive director at Cook who took a job as “axe master general” at Urban Axes earlier this year.

Four friends — two in Philly, two in Toronto — founded Urban Axes and plan to open in late July or early August, if the place gets through zoning. (It needs to switch from industrial to commercial zoning.) When it gets going, Urban Axes will hold private events and run leagues. Through it all, an Urban Axes team member will offer tips and make sure everything is running smoothly and safely.

Axe-throwing has no doubt been done in the woods for centuries, but the sport version of it traces its roots to Toronto. As Cope tells it, the founders were inspired by the dozen or so axe-throwing clubs in the Canadian city. They played the sport up north and decided Philadelphia would be the best spot for what they say is the first one in the United States. Read more »

Rain or Shine, These Festivals Are Happening

Italian Market Festival will go on all weekend | M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Italian Market Festival will go on all weekend | M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

We were pretty excited when we put together our compilation of May festivals, and then May happened. It’s been gray skies for much of the month with a good amount of rain mixed in (you know, except for today). And now we’re at the final pre-Memorial Day weekend and the fear-mongering weather people are predicting more rain. But if you’re like me, you’re like, “whatevs, It’s my weekend and I’ll party if I want to, weather be damned. So it’s good to know that at least some of the weekend’s outdoor events are happening regardless.

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It’s Preview Week at the Saint Benjamin Brewing’s Tap Room

Saint Benjamin Brewing's Tap Room | Photo by Kelly Alderfer

Saint Benjamin Brewing’s Tap Room | Photo by Kelly Alderfer

About a month ago, we wrote about Saint Benjamin Brewing Company’s expansion, including a new taproom in the works. Well, that taproom is finished up, and the St. Ben’s team is softly opened this week for Craft Brewers Conference—and it’s pretty sweet.

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to stop in to check out the taproom at 1710 North 5th Street, while on a Liberty Brew Tour as the finishing touches were being done. Quite possibly the coolest feature of the taproom is the retouched exposed brick and plaster walls, a labor of love by co-owner Christina Burris. She wanted the walls to be as close to the state as they were originally back in the 1800s when the three story building was built.

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Two Beer Gardens Debut This Weekend

Last minute prep work at Independence Beer Garden

Last minute prep work at Independence Beer Garden

The first two beer gardens of the season open this weekend. Today, Michael Schulson’s Independence Beer Garden softly opens at 6th and Market and tomorrow marks 8th anniversary and beer garden opening at Memphis Taproom.

Memphis is celebrating inside with some great beers from their cellar plus some of the newest beers in the state. The bar will be pouring four beers from Highway Manor Brewing of Camp Hill, PA. The beers are all all open fermented and barrel aged. The beers will be Mr. Blueberry, Taste My Place, Mr. Strawberry, and Sayjohn Saison.  There will also be bottles on hand for takeout, with labels illustrated by Memphis Taproom’s own Keith Warren Greiman.

About those beer gardens »

Philly Block Project Wants to Show a Truer Portrait of Kensington

Hakan Ibisi carries a photograph of his grandfather in his wallet. Ibisi was photographed for the Philly Block Project, a collaboration between the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and Hank Willis Thomas. Photo by Wyatt Gallery/Hank Willis Thomas Studio. 

Hakan Ibisi carries a photograph of his grandfather in his wallet. Ibisi was photographed for the Philly Block Project, a collaboration between the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and Hank Willis Thomas. Photo by Wyatt Gallery/Hank Willis Thomas Studio.

A smile creeps onto Fada Ahmad‘s face as she passes around a photo of the newest member of the family, her 1-year-old granddaughter. In the picture the young girl clutches onto her grandfather and a wide smile covers her face.

“She loves him more than anyone,” says Ahmad, laughing softly, as she talks about how the girl’s grandfather spoils her with gifts and candy. This is only one of the cherished photographs Ahmad has to share. Ahmad is the self-proclaimed photographer of her family. She has two suitcases full of photos at home. Today, she’s brought several snapshots and a cellphone packed with pictures.

“You are the keeper of your family archive,” remarks Lori Waselchuk, the coordinator of the Philly Block Project.

Ahmad’s archive is joining with another archive — actually quite a few other archives. Ahmad is at the Al Aqsa Islamic Society for a photo scanning event. Her photos along with the photos of many Kensington residents are being collected by the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center for something called the Philly Block Project. The aim of the project is to create a “visual narrative” of South Kensington that will be comprised of photos submitted by Kensington residents, in addition to photos of present day Kensington which will be taken by photographer Hank Willis Thomas and several other collaborating artists. Read more »

Skeletal Human Remains Found in West Kensington Lot

A city work crew this morning came across skeletal human remains in an empty lot in the city’s West Kensington section.

A Philadelphia Police Department spokesperson said the city workers found the bones at 10:13 a.m. in a vacant lot in the 400 block of East Cambria Street. Read more »

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