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Monday Masters: Silent Spring

Monday Masters: Silent Spring

I have often said that one of my favorite moments of any evening out is when I first sit down at the bar. It’s all about grabbing a really good spot, settling in, and anticipating everything that the night has to offer. In order for that particular moment to be all that it can be, several key components have to fall into place. First off, I’d better be sitting in an awesome bar, with an amazing vibe, and an aesthetic that makes me feel like I’ve been transported to someplace incredible. Secondly, I need a cocktail list that really intrigues me. But even when these two factors are in place, things can all fall apart rather quickly if the bartender isn’t engaging or makes me feel less than welcome or comfortable. In fact, I like to think of the bartender as the element of this equation that holds it all together.

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Friday Musings: The inspiration behind “Women in Love”

Friday Musings: The inspiration behind “Women in Love”

womeninlove1This week began with a new moon in Scorpio, which harnesses deep, dark, transformational energy. Scorpio embodies the quintessential, Mars-ruled warrior princess. She is the O. G. representation of a woman in love, a feminine force catapulting forward with what could be considered masculine qualities. Lucky for me, I was able to channel this energy into something fun and productive – THANK YOU, CARLA! Scorpio reminds us to shed our passé view of ourselves and begin anew.

When I take a sip of “Women in Love,” I am sent to a place of new beginnings where the fresh-pressed celery juice is reminiscent of the scent of newly-cut grass on a dewy spring morning. The delicate floral notes of jasmine and chamomile nurture my palate through the bright citrus explosion; then comes a surprising, yet sensible, finish of cracked black pepper to snap my dreamy butt back to reality.

Women in Love is not just about women, as the title would suggest; in fact, Women in Love has both masculine and feminine qualities. Just as D. H. Lawrence dances with gender in his novel, this cocktail is intended to blur the lines of separation. It is also meant to be enjoyed, as is life. Women in Love is about full acceptance of who you are and boldly expressing yourself to the world!

Yesterday, someone asked me, “How do you create a cocktail?” For most of us, we approach a new situation with a conditioned mind, based on previous experiences. How does this apply to cocktails, you ask? I started with what I have learned from the great gin classics, such as a gimlet, a negroni, or an aviation. For me, cocktail creation always leads back to the basics. What has worked before? How can we improve moving forward? With “Women in Love,” I began with the most important ingredient: the base spirit.

Bluecoat’s citrus-forward profile sets a perfect base for a vegetal gimlet variation – the masculine, woodsy essence of the angelica root, the feminine, floral scent of coriander. The flavors are so in sync that you cannot differentiate where one ends and one begins. But you know they are there, dancing harmoniously. It’s balanced. It is a gin for all walks of life.

Carla likes to think that “great cocktails, much like great books, inspire us to be introspective and to think about the course our lives have taken,” and I strongly agree. As the new moon encourages you to start fresh, channel your inner-warrior, and create something that inspires you!


Women in Love

3 large basil leaves, lightly muddled
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz jasmine chamomile syrup*
3/4 oz celery juice
1 1/2 oz Bluecoat American Dry Gin

Shake, strain.
Serve up in a coupe.
Garnish with a slice of cucumber and hearty dusting of cracked black pepper.

*Tea provided by House of Tea on 4th Street in Fabric Row. Steep equal parts of both teas for 7 minutes, then combine with equal parts white sugar (while warm) to create syrup.


J. Christine Lamb
Beverage Manager, Charlie was a sinner
131 S. 13th Street Philadelphia, PA 19107



Barlogue: Charlie was a sinner. Philadelphia, PA.

Barlogue: Charlie was a sinner. Philadelphia, PA.


Few things make me happier than spending the night sitting at a really great bar. You know just the kind of place I mean where the atmosphere makes you feel comfortable and wowed at the same time, where the staff greets you like there’s always room for you even though it seems to be packed, where the 100% vegan food is amazing even to very carnivorous husbands, where the cocktail list is so interesting that you want to order one of everything, and the drinks are so exceptionally well-made that they exceed all expectations. But wait… do you really know the kind of place I mean? This is sounding more like a perfect bar, not just a great bar, and that’s just not possible. Or is it?

The first time I went to Charlie was a sinner. I was with a friend who wanted to take me there because she thought I would love watching the way the bartenders worked. She was absolutely right. I had been making cocktails at home for just a little while and was taking such care to do everything right, measuring every last ingredient as painstakingly as I could. I thought it was partly because of my personality (and the fact that I’m a consummate Virgo), but even more importantly, because I was an amateur. When I saw the precision with which the bartenders at Charlie was a sinner. made their drinks, I was speechless, and I quickly realized that was the exact reason why each and every cocktail was consistently good, no matter how many I ordered. It was another one of those transformational moments that tend to happen for me in bars.

We’ve been back to Charlie was a sinner. quite a few times since that first night and have never been disappointed. The drink list is excellent, offering classic as well as signature cocktails, and the drinks themselves are nothing short of amazing, as are the bartenders who prepare them. We like quite a few of them, but our top two are seen in the picture above. To the left is the Black Manhatten, which my husband loves, made with Old Forester, Averna Amaro, and angostura and orange bitters. Just beside it is my favorite, Women in Love, an unforgettable combination of Bluecoat gin, celery juice, jasmine chamomile syrup, lime, basil, and a black pepper garnish that this woman is definitely in love with! The beer and wine lists are short, but carefully selected, and offer a wide variety of options that particularly complement the vegan cuisine. And that brings us to the food, which is imaginative, fun, and truly outstanding. I love the ricotta, the vanilla citrus salad, the lumpia spring rolls, the heirloom beet salad, and the pineapple fried rice. My husband is obsessed with the chickpea spaghetti. I’m pretty sure he thinks about it far more often than he should.

Even when all the elements are in place – great food, drinks, and venue – it’s still possible for a bar or restaurant to disappoint if the staff falls short. Yet this where Charlie was a sinner. truly excels. The hostesses, managers, and wait staff are gracious and accommodating, and the bartenders are friendly and approachable. This creates an environment that is relaxed and comfortable so that even when we’ve planned to stop by for just one drink, we’ve ended up staying far longer than that, often because we’re involved in deep conversation with people who were strangers when the night started out. So is this the perfect bar? For me it is. Charlie may have been a sinner, but right now he’s doing everything right.

Charlie was a sinner.   131 S. 13th St.   Philadelphia, PA.   267-758-5372