Today’s clean but comforting cocktail is sure to stir up some childhood nostalgia. Here’s Carlene, our wedding wellness expert, with the recipe.
A signature cocktail should speak volumes about the theme of your gathering, you, or your significant other. If you’ve been pinning up a storm and need to narrow down your beverage menu, dig deep into your childhood memories. If you grew up loving root beer and root beer floats, this is the cocktail for you. The replacement of ice cream with tropical, healthier banana “fro-yo” adds a completely new dimension.
INGREDIENTS (MAKES 1)
♦ 1 tablespoon of ROOT liquor
♦ 1 ounce of aged spiced rum
♦ 1 frozen banana
♦ 1 bottle of root beer
♦ 1 tablespoon of skim milk
Make banana ice cream by freezing a peeled banana. Once frozen, blend using a Cuisinart and add 1 tablespoon of skim milk. The texture will go from crumbly to smooth in a matter of minutes. It should look like soft-serve ice cream. Scoop and add to glass. Pour in spiced rum and ROOT liquor. Top off with root beer and stir gently.
Want other root beer float ideas? For a twist, change out the root beer for ginger beer and pair with coconut water and lime. Need something a bit lighter on calories? Swap out the root beer for DRY Vanilla Bean Soda.
It is a peculiar quality of the district here called Old City that the proprietors of many of its galleries and shops complain about the floors.
“It’s always been a problem for us,” said Robert Aibel, the owner of Moderne, a vintage furniture gallery at 111 North Third Street. But “most people don’t notice, unless a piece of furniture looks crooked.”
At the Roche Bobois showroom, at 313 Arch Street, Natalie Suresch, the manager, said the floors tilt four feet from back to front. “You feel like you have vertigo,” she said.
Such are the wages of historicism.
Old City, the home of Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross and the temporary residence of George Washington before he moved south, was the kernel from which the rest of Philadelphia grew. Established in the late 17th century by William Penn, this area on the Delaware River evolved into a prosperous 19th-century manufacturing center and then declined into a 20th-century derelict port.
Things took a turn for the better around 1976, the year of the Bicentennial, when interest flared up in Philadelphia’s federal past. “There was a sense of a reconnecting with the earliest history of the city,” said Nathaniel Popkin, a local urbanist writer and the editor of the Web siteHidden City Philadelphia. Mr. Popkin believes that the term “Old City” was coined in those days. “It had an ‘e’ on the end of ‘Old’ originally,” he said.
Today, Old City’s narrow brick buildings house an assortment of design and fashion boutiques, along with some remaining wholesalers of textiles and heavy-duty kitchen equipment. Factories are now condominium complexes with names like the Castings to acknowledge their manufacturing heritage.
And the floors? They, too, are a legacy of an industrial past. Mr. Aibel believes that his hundred-year-old building, where he installs exhibitions of American craft furniture, was once a tobacco warehouse in which water flowed down the incline and out the door. Similarly, at the 1875 petticoat factory that is now the home of Roche Bobois, slanted floors are said to have helped workers move goods and equipment around.
This week, DesignPhiladelphia, a citywide festival, will begin its ninth season, offering some 120 events, including exhibitions, workshops and studio tours. So it seemed a fitting time to zoom in on Old City, where many of those events will take place, and focus on design in this cradle of artisanal and manufacturing culture. On a recent Friday — the first in October, which meant that shops and galleries were open late — a reporter and a photographer made a door-to-door survey of the area extending from Arch Street to Race Street and from North Second Street to North Fourth Street. (Technically, the area comprises more than four blocks, but if we’re loose in our definition, so were Philadelphia’s early planners, who had a habit of introducing alleys at any opportunity.)
Those blocks contain the reputed former residence of Betsy Ross, who is also rumored to have lived in at least two other houses nearby; the remains of a wood-turning company founded in 1868 that closed its doors several years ago, leaving generations-old equipment behind; and an art gallery built on the site of the city’s first synagogue. There is even a restaurant with a sloping floor that serves a truffled egg salad sandwich called a Betty Draper, garnished with a tiny package of candy cigarettes.
Philadelphia may be what one local dealer of 20th-century furniture described as an “overwhelmingly Early American town,” but Old City dishes up thick slices of a history, layering muscular industrialism and modern loft living on its Colonial origins. This is no neat terrine, and the mixture can be surprising. When the Betsy Ross House screened a movie the other evening, it wasn’t “1776.” It was “Night of the Living Dead.”
Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Its Web site has a picture of Walter Benjamin and a manifesto attacking our era of easy commodification and shallow spectacle, but Art in the Age, as it is conveniently known, is above all a really nice shop in a vintage building that has been left as intact as functionality and liability allow. Offerings include clothes, fashion accessories, exotic spirits and household goods produced with friendly materials in blameless ways. The space also hosts exhibitions and performances.
116 North Third Street, (215) 922-2600