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