Juiced, fermented, steamed or distilled—we’ve got the season’s drinkable highlights to match your mood, and the weather, any day this spring.
By Katherine Rapin
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF ART IN THE AGE, BABA’S BUCHA, FABER SPIRITS,
AMALGAM COMICS & COFFEEHOUSE, CAMPBELL’S,
DANYA HENNINGER and GRATEFUL PLATE
Embrace a drizzly day with Chhaya Cafe’s London Fog—an unusual tea latte popular in Canada but hard to find here in the States. Steamed milk and a smidge of house-made vanilla syrup is mixed with aromatic violet-blossom Earl Grey tea. The touch of floral adds a nice complexity, according to owner Varnana “V” Beuria. Available at Chhaya Cafe, 1819 E. Passyunk Ave., 215.465.1000, chhayacafe.com.
Art in the Age has partnered with Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. to bring us Root-soaked Bordeaux cherries. Root is an Art in the Age spirit inspired by the medicinal root tea recipe that eventually became modern root beer. Oregon-grown cherries are saturated in the booze to create an entirely fresh take on the American maraschino. Use them in your home-mixed manhattans for a major cocktail upgrade. Available at Art in the Age, 116 N. 3rd St., 215.922.2600, or order at artintheage.com.
The guys at Midnight Madness Distilling provide high-end taste at an affordable price and PA is catching on. Faber Gin is now available at select Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits stores—ringing up for about $10 less than comparable locally distilled gins— and is the house spirit at more than 100 bars in Philadelphia. When you order your first gin and tonic of the spring, ask for one with this spirit coming out of Quakertown. It might go down a bit easier than you’d expect. Check out faberspirits.com for locations.
BERGAMOT AND YUZU SODA
Have you ever encountered fresh bergamot juice? Before Vernick put this citrusy, floral soda on its menu, we hadn’t either. It’s made by juicing bergamot (a citrus fruit aptly nicknamed sweet lemon) and yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit with a grapefruit-lime flavor) and combining that with oleo-saccharum (sugared oil) made in-house from bergamot peels and a touch of demerara syrup. After a shake, a shot of club soda, and a bergamot peel twist, it’s yours to drink in. Available at Vernick Food & Drink, 2031 Walnut St., 267.639.6644, vernickphilly.com.
Olga Sorzano’s bringing her grandmother’s Old World Siberian recipe to Chester County with Baba’s Bucha. She uses organic teas, seasonal produce and her Baba’s methods to make this probioticrich beverage. We recommend her hibiscus kombucha—tangy, floral and naturally bubbly. It might make you want to say, “Na zdorovie” (Russian for “To your good health”)! Available at the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market and on draft at the Di Bruno Bros. Rittenhouse Square location; find other retailers at babasbrew.com.
THREE SPRIGS TART CHERRY JUICE
Coax your taste buds out of hibernation with a shock of summer flavor. Three Springs Fruit Farm in Aspers, Pennsylvania, uses its own Montmorency sour cherries, juiced without sugar, for a bracing taste of one of the most fleeting summer fruits. Now you can enjoy it all year long. Order this anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich elixir by the quart at threespringsfruitfarm.com or pick up a bottle at the Three Springs stand when the Headhouse Farmers’ Market opens in May.
A new hangout for comic enthusiasts opened in north Kensington last December. Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse sells both classic comics and local, independent titles. There’s also snacks, drinks and ample seating for reading in-store. Owner Ariell Johnson (pictured above) has dreamed of opening her own shop since her favorite place to read comics—the living-room-like Crimson Moon Coffee House formerly on 20th and Sansom—closed in 2005, the same year she graduated from Temple.
“I was at a loss for that community space,” she says. With that in mind, Johnson strives to create an inclusive atmosphere at Amalgam. The shop will host events like gaming nights, movie screenings and author talks requested by community members. Cozy up on the couch by the window, or sit at a table under exposed brick arches and X-Men posters. Need a treat while you read? Choose from walnut-banana bread or oversized cookies, and order something to sip, like a Chai-bacca, Cafe au Leia, or Jakku-ccino, from Admiral Ackbar’s menu—“Extra Force” optional. —Katherine Rapin
Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse
2578 Frankford Ave.
CAMPBELL’S LEADS ON GMO LABELING
There’s a good chance that you want to see all food products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) labeled so you can make informed buying decisions. After all, an overwhelming majority—92%—of Americans do. And now Camden-based Campbell Soup Company, a giant in the packaged food industry, has made waves by announcing it will voluntarily label its GMO-containing products by mid-2017.
Of course, many people wish the company had gone further and banned the use of GMOs altogether. But this move is a positive one—and possibly a trendsetting one. In January, Campbell’s publicly called for mandatory, national labeling standards for foods containing GMOs. “We’re calling on Congress to come up with a solution,” says Thomas Hushen, a Campbell’s spokesperson. The company wants to set the standard for transparency in the food industry.
Vermont’s recently passed law requiring GMOs to be labeled has spurred a sense of urgency for national action. Powerful groups including Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association have already spent billions lobbying Congress to squash such laws. Campbell’s is calling for a national labeling standard because the company thinks state-by-state regulations would be inefficient and expensive. But Campbell’s will relabel products containing GMOs— including products under the brand names Prego, Pepperidge Farm and others in the Campbell’s portfolio—even if a national mandate isn’t passed. Whatever your position on GMOs, its hard to argue with the idea that people have a right a right to know what they’re eating. —Katherine Rapin
A BURGER THAT HITS THE SPOT
The burger king of Philadelphia, Josh Kim, has taken his patty-making indoors. The beloved Spot Burgers food cart has moved from the streets of University City to a tidy storefront in Brewerytown on Girard Avenue. He’s still making the same outstanding burgers— freshly ground top butt sirloin, seasoned with kosher salt and pepper and darkly seared on a 450° griddle—but chicken burgers and even veggie burgers have joined the lineup. The shop also now has Yard’s root beer on draft for ice cream floats. As before, all Spot’s meat comes from Carl Venezia, an old-school butcher based in Plymouth Meeting. Much of the chicken and beef hails from farms in Lancaster and Chester Counties.
While the new 20-table restaurant space is welcomed by fans who never relished eating their burgers on the curb, some miss the brightly colored cart where Spot Burgers was born. “It’s on mothballs, just for right now,” says Kim. He promises that he and his cart will be back on the streets as soon as the new place is fully up and running later this spring, when he feels like the restaurant can operate without him. “I could never send someone else out to do street vending in that cart,” he says. “It’s my little baby.”
2821 W. Girard Ave. 484.620.6901
When you think of dinner delivery, you probably imagine pizza, tacos or Chinese food. Those options are definitely convenient, but how do you feel after you’ve eaten? If you’re anything like Beth Kaufman Strauss, the sluggish blahs brought on by another night of greasy food is too high a price to pay for the convenience. With that in mind, she launched her company Grateful Plate, a natural foods delivery service that brings dinner—a good one— to your door.
“I wanted to come up with a service that took that the stress of eating well away. Meal planning, shopping, cooking can all seem like a lot of work,” she says. Sign up for her menu emails, and you’ll get a list of everything on offer that week. Options might include a Mediterranean-style salmon with a yogurt sauce or Korean-barbecue lettuce wraps. You can order a single portion or enough food to feed a family for the week, all delivered ready to reheat and eat. Meals are priced between $26.50 and $20.50, depending on how much you buy. It’s not cheap, but it does provide a good value, especially in some extreme cases. “One customer told me I saved their marriage; they said hiring me was less expensive than divorce,” says Strauss.