Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now
A&E >  Beer/Drinks

Putting the spirits back into Soulful Soups & Spirits

Soulful Soups wants to be known for the other half of its name – spirits – as well as its lunchtime staple. Pictured here are the Signature Sour and Easy Peasy Grapefruit Squeezy. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review)
Soulful Soups wants to be known for the other half of its name – spirits – as well as its lunchtime staple. Pictured here are the Signature Sour and Easy Peasy Grapefruit Squeezy. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review) Buy this photo

Soulful Soups & Spirits has long been a popular lunch place, serving up a wide variety of its namesake staple.

Beer-cheese and tomato-basil are signatures. There’s broccoli-cheddar, beefy nacho and cauliflower-Gorgonzola, along with vegan Moroccan lentil and creamy Southwest-style cheddar-chicken – just to name a few. Each week, there are some 20 to 30 different offerings, many of which are gluten-free. Some are vegetarian and vegan, too. This is no secret.

Lesser-known is the fact that this downtown eatery takes on a lounge-like feel at night. Customers can still get soup. But it’s served table-side versus at the walk-up lunch counter. There’s a full bar, too.

And perhaps even more under-the-radar is the fact that Soulful has revamped its cocktail menu, hiring a new bar manager with international experience to update and reinvigorate the bar program. The idea, said owner Lauren D’Arienzo, is to put more of an emphasis on the second half of the business name: spirits.

“We’re trying to get into the craft cocktail scene,” said D’Arienzo, who took over the business in 2011.

When it opened 10 years before that, Soulful was soup only. The second owner added spirits.

“I’ve been trying to marry the two,” said D’Arienzo, the third owner. “It used to be really night-clubby. My plan was to make it more loungey, a little more quiet.”

About five years ago, she quit closing her restaurant in the middle of the afternoon, stretching service from lunch time into the evening and streamlining hours. She began closing earlier, at 10 p.m. instead of as late as 2 a.m.

Since then, even though “spirits” was in the name by then, customers – it seemed – stopped thinking of Soulful as a spot for after-work adult beverages or evening libations.

Camrin Costello came on board to change that.

She’s been working on a new menu of classic and craft cocktails since October. And, D’Arienzo said, “She is just obsessed with it. It is her passion. She has the background, and she is an awesome manager.”

Costello spent three years in London, managing two restaurants and doing cocktail consulting while going to school. Ultimately, she’s hoping to move back across the pond, maybe even as early as this summer. She’s planning to stay at Soulful until she goes overseas again.

Before Costello took the helm, Soulful’s bar offerings were “simple,” D’Arienzo said. “We didn’t have fresh rosemary.”

Soulful, Costello said, “didn’t really have a bar program. We had a bar, but it was an after-thought. We don’t want to be known as just a soup spot for lunch. We have the atmosphere of a lounge, and we want to be known for it, too. We want to put the spirits back into Soulful Soups & Spirits.”

She’s added four house cocktails: three of her own creations as well as one classic.

The classic is the Toronto, a twist on an old-fashioned, with bourbon, Fernet-Branca, Angostura bitters and sugar.

The Easy Peasy Grapefruit Squeezy features grapefruit-rose vodka, grapefruit, lime, mint and demerara sugar. “I built it like a mojito,” Costello said. “It’s light and sweet but herbaceous. It flies out of the house.”

Spring in the Shire “is my homage to my time in London,” Costello said. “It reminds me of spring in London.” It includes London dry gin, lavender, grapefruit and soda.

And Soulful’s Signature Sour uses rye, lemon, honey, egg white and fresh rosemary.

The new menu is “more about demographic than season” – at least to start. Eventually, Costello would like to see the drink menu change seasonally, perhaps starting this spring.

Meantime, in addition to introducing fresh herbs, she’s added freshly squeezed citrus and a menu of classics – from an old-fashioned and Manhattan to a whiskey sour, Sazerac and Negroni. There’s a margarita, too, along with a Moscow mule, huckleberry lemon drop and Dark & Rainy, her version of a Dark & Stormy.

“There are classic cocktails of every nature,” said Costello, who graduated from University High School in 2006 and has worked at Fast Eddie’s, Chairs Public House, Steelhead Bar & Grille, Mizuna and Casper Fry.

She likes Soulful for its downtown location and ambiance – exposed red brick, dim lights at night – as well as the opportunity to build a bar program from the ground up.

You don’t have to be a drinker or over 21 to enjoy her creations, either. Costello has added four $4 mocktails to the menu, too.

“I have so many students who come here,” she said, noting she’s not a fan of “water culture” – meaning, “If you’re not a drinker, all you have is water.”

Customers who aren’t of legal drinking age or who don’t drink alcohol “can still be part of the party.”

The drink menu now includes a No-Mojito, Lavender & Grapefruit Spritz, Cucumber Elixir and Pineapple Mule.

Of course, Costello said, spirits could be added to any of them – for an extra charge.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter

Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.