Belle Isle Moonshine

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

5 Healthy Cocktails to Kick Start Your New Year's Resolutions

CocktailsBrandon DayComment

With a long week of holiday indulgence behind us, we've decided to start 2018 on a positive note. We're sharing some of our favorite healthy cocktail recipes to keep you feeling refreshed and fit throughout the year. From fruity and herbal to clean and crisp, these simple, healthy cocktails are a great way to keep your New Year's Resolutions in check. 

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Party Prepped: Bubbly + Bloodies

CocktailsBrandon DayComment

With New Years festivities right around the corner, it's time to send 2017 off with a bang. But ringing in the new year tends to have some consequences the next morning... So we're compiling our favorite Belle Isle + bubbly recipes that are perfect for your midnight cheers AND our favorite Belle Isle Bloody Mary recipes that are the fix you'll need come Monday morning.

BELLE ISLE + BUBBLY


BELLE ISLE BLOODIES


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3 Super-Easy Holiday Infusions

Infusions, CocktailsBrandon DayComment
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With just a couple days left before the holidays, your friends at Belle Isle Moonshine are here to help get you through this time filled with stressful shopping, visits with the family, fruitcake overload and It’s A Wonderful Life on endless replay. With our to-do lists all sorted out and presents wrapped, we figured it was time to have some fun with a few of our favorite DIY infusions that are sure to please everyone at your holiday gatherings.

Belle Isle's own Director of Production and R&D, Gregg Brooks, is here to show you how it's done. These infusions will not only taste delicious, they’ll look beautiful sitting on your kitchen counter or bar. These are all super easy, one-bottle infusions that anyone will be able to pull off from the cozy confines of your home, much to the delight of your guests. It doesn’t get much easier, and it doesn’t get much better.

Lemon Infusion

Ingredients:

  • 3 lemons (The harder, the better for peeling)
  • 4 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 (750ml) bottle Belle Isle 100 Proof
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Preparation:

  1. Measure and pour out 6 ounces of Belle Isle 100 Proof. Use that spirit to make three cocktails, one for yourself and two for your friends. Flying solo, make one drink and save the rest for later.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemon in long strips. Try to get just the outer skin and avoid as much of the white pith as possible. Save the peeled lemons for other later uses. Using a small sharp knife, remove as much pith from the peels as you can.
  3. Carefully place by the peels into the bottle by pushing them through the neck with a bar spoon or straw. Place top back on the bottle and store in a dark place at room temperature for a minimum of 5 days, though the longer the better.
  4. When ready, take the bottle out and remove the top. Slowly and carefully pour 4 ounces of simple syrup into the bottle, place the top back on and gently shake the bottle to mix ingredients. Place the bottle in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. It’s ready to drink at this point, either straight or in a cocktail. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 30 days, though we hope this won’t last more than one night at a holiday party.
  6. *Want a sweeter finished product? Mix all ingredients in a larger container other than the bottle and follow the same steps, but double the simple syrup. You can always pour the finished product back into our bottle. The infusion should have a beautiful bright yellow-green tint to it.

Orange-Cranberry Infusion

Ingredients:

2 oranges (the firmer, the better)
1 cup fresh cranberries
1½ cups sugar
1 (750ml) bottle Belle Isle 100 Proof

Preparation:

  1. As with the lemon infusion, measure and pour out 6 ounces of Belle Isle 100 Proof, and use in a cocktail or set aside.
  2. Place cranberries, sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a medium-sized saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stirring frequently, let the mixture simmer for about 4-5 minutes or until the berries begin to burst. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the oranges in long strips. Try to get just the outer skin and avoid as much of the white pith as possible. Save the peeled oranges for other later uses. Using a small sharp knife, remove as much pith from the peels as you can.
  4. Carefully place by the peels into the bottle by pushing them through the neck with a bar spoon or straw. Once cranberry mixture has cooled, carefully and slowly pour that mixture into the bottle using a funnel. You may have to push some of the cranberries through using that bar spoon or straw. The neck of the bottle will look crystallized, and I think it adds to the appearance of the finished product.
  5. Gently shake the bottle to mix the ingredients and place in a dark place at room temperature for at least 5 days. Once ready, refrigerate overnight. There will be some sediment in the bottle, so feel free to strain the spirit before using. You can drink this infusion straight or in a cocktail.

Caramelized Apple Infusion

Ingredients:

  • 1 large apple (we like Gala apples for this infusion)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 (750ml) bottle Belle Isle 100 Proof (Belle Isle Black Label will also work in this infusion)
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Want to get fancy? Add any of the following with the apples for a new flavor.

  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Cloves
  • Anise
  • Allspice

Preparation:

  1. Measure and pour out 4 ounces of Belle Isle 100 Proof. Use that spirit to make two cocktails, one for now and one for later.
  2. Cut the apple into thin slices, making sure they’ll easily fit through the neck of the bottle.
  3. Place the apple slices into a medium saucepan with the sugar and two tablespoons of water and cook over medium heat. Stirring frequently, let the mixture simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Enjoy the “later” cocktail at this point.
  5. Once the mixture has cooled, carefully and slowly pour the mixture into the bottle, pushing the apples through the neck with that bar spoon or straw.
  6. Place cap back on and very gently shake the bottle to mix ingredients. Place the bottle in a dark place at room temperature and let sit for 3-4 days.
  7. When ready, refrigerate overnight. There will be sediment in the bottle, so feel free to strain while pouring into a glass or jigger. This infusion is great straight or in a cocktail.

Erica's Ultimate Spiked Hot Chocolate Bar

Home Bar, CocktailsBrandon DayComment
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Hey y'all! Erica from Eating with Erica here at Belle Isle to give you the inside scoop on how I turn out the Ultimate Spiked Hot Chocolate Bar.

Winter is finally here, which means it’s time to turn on Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You“ while getting some kisses under the mistletoe. It's also time to start getting creative with your holiday parties!

When I am hosting my holiday gatherings, I am always stumped on a couple of how-to things: how to impress my guests & how to create an epic recipe in under an hour without breaking the bank, all while looking flawless. Talk about a dilemma. But don’t fret! Save your holiday season with a spiked hot chocolate bar using Belle Isle Honey Habanero.

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What I love about a hot chocolate bar is that it can be so simplistic, yet impressive. You can put together a creative holiday drink bar in less than 45 minutes in an awesomely frugal way. On average, a holiday bar will run you in the range of $45 to $60 and will increase depending on the ingredients that you select.

Of course, to create your hot chocolate bar, you first need to start with hot cocoa. The hot cocoa should be really creamy - the more chocolatey, the better. If you are on-the-go, instant cocoa will work just fine, but remember to use milk instead of water! If you have extra time, you can create hot cocoa in the slow cooker.

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Once you’ve decided on your cocoa, you’ll need to choose the type of mug you'd like to drink your hot chocolate out of. I highly recommend using Mason jar mugs. They are the easiest to decorate and the mugs are perfect for photos. You definitely want to be sure that the end product is photo worthy. C’mon! Do it for the ‘Gram!

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I spiked my hot cocoa with Belle Isle Honey Habanero. It blends so well and gives a slight hint of spice. If you aren't into spiciness or that "kick," no worries! You can use Belle Isle Black Label. 

Your bar won’t be much of a sight without tasty, unique ingredients. The more ingredients you have, the fuller your bar will look which will give it that WOW factor - the more ingredients, the better! I added some of my favorite ingredients such as peppermint, whipped cream, strawberries, sprinkles, and crushed Oreos. I am known to be a little extra, so you know I had to create some over-the-top items such as chocolate-covered bacon. It is also important you remember to invite a variety of guests who will love creating their hot beverages.

To make your bar more festive, add some charming Christmas décor, like Poinsettia plants, festive napkins, and classic Santa trinkets. The goal is to leave your guests thinking that Martha Stewart did all of your holiday decorating.

There is so much variation and possibility when creating your very own hot chocolate bar, so it’s unlikely that anything will go wrong. If you are still apprehensive, no worries! There’s still time to do a trial run of your hot chocolate bar so you can rest assured everything will run smoothly on the actual day of your holiday gathering. I know your "bar" will be a hit!

Make sure that you enjoy, have fun, and drink responsibly. Happy Holidays! 

Belle Isle Spiked Hot Chocolate Bar

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Hot Chocolate

  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ⅓ cup boiling water
  • ½-⅔ cups granulated sugar (to taste)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½-¾ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 quart milk (at least 1%)

In a large saucepan, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and boiling water until the sugar is mostly dissolved and no lumps remain.

Add the milk and vanilla extract and turn the burner to LOW HEAT. Do not bring to a boil. Heat until drinkably hot. Remove from heat and keep warm in a slow cooker, if desired.

If using Belle Isle Honey Habanero, add room-temperature Belle Isle to the cocoa after removing from heat, and whisk thoroughly.

For the Rims of Glasses

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  • Caramel Syrup
  • Chocolate Syrup
  • Roasted, Pulverized Bacon (think homemade bacon bits)
  • Raw or Brown Sugar
  • Cinnamon Sugar
  • Espresso Powder
  • Crushed Peppermint Candies
  • Toasted, Crushed Nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Hazelnuts

Toppings and Add-Ins

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  • Whipped Cream
  • Creme Fraiche
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Caramel Syrup
  • Chocolate Syrup
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate-Covered Bacon 
  • Grated Nutmeg
  • Sliced strawberries dipped in chocolate
  • Peppermint sticks
  • Mint Leaves
  • Cayenne Pepper
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Recipe + words: Erica Key, Editor-in-Chief at Eating with Erica
Photography: Kayla MaDonna

Party Prepped: Friendsgiving

CocktailsBrandon DayComment

This year, we wanted to go all out for our fall festivities. And what better way to do that than to bring in the experts? We called on our good friend and food festivities extraordinaire Erica Key, of the award-winning blog Eating with Erica, to show us how to plan one unforgettable Friendsgiving feast!

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The fall season has finally made its debut, and I couldn’t be happier. It's time to bring out the comfy sweaters, cranberry- and pumpkin- flavored any and everything, and last, but certainly not least, all of the festive holiday gatherings.

See more of Erica's awesome recipes on her blog, Eating with Erica!

See more of Erica's awesome recipes on her blog, Eating with Erica!

One of my favorite fall gatherings has to be Friendsgiving. Over the years, I have made Friendsgiving more of a traditional event for my social circle. Everyone looks forward to it and genuinely loves it. And to be honest, it’s one of my favorite events of the holiday season.

I don’t know about you, but I have no idea where I would be without my squad, and I am always looking for an excuse to show them how much I appreciate them. 

If you are hosting Friendsgiving at your house this holiday, the Belle Isle Thankful Punch is going to be a hit. Belle Isle Moonshine is one of my latest obsessions. It's a premium, handcrafted spirit distilled from good times and 100% organic corn. Perfect combination for an epic punch, right? It is the perfect spirit for the punch because it's strong, yet smooth. A little goes a long way.

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When I am entertaining, I love creating punch for a few reasons. First, there is minimal prep time. Most punch recipes are fool-proof and impossible to mess up. You don’t have to keep making batches of punch throughout the evening during your gathering. You can make two gallons, refrigerate, and have plenty just in case you run out. 

This year I had a little time to play with recipes, so I decided to get creative with the cocktail containers. If you are limited on time, drinking glasses work great. If you have some time to be fancy and extra, like myself, these mini pumpkins are the perfect way to serve your cocktails. They are so simple to create, and they look great.

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PUMPKIN CONTAINERS

What you'll need:

  • Mini Pumpkins (4) 
  • Paring knife
  • Spoon
  • Kitchen roll

Preparation:

  1. Draw a circle around the stem on the top where you want the lid to go. 
  2. Cut out the lid. 
  3. Use a spoon to clean out the inside of the pumpkin. 
  4. Wipe down inside & outside of pumpkins with some kitchen roll.

    For my gathering, I paired delicious punch with very simple appetizers such as charcuterie, hummus, and a veggie tray. Traditionally, if you are having Friendsgiving at home, it's potluck style. This is the ideal setup to entertain guests while you are preparing your main course or waiting for others with their dishes. Your guests will ask you for this recipe. And since it's Friendsgiving, it's only right that you share it!

    Enjoy! 

    - Erica Key,
    EATING WITH ERICA

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    Preparation:

    Chill Belle Isle and white grape juice overnight. When ready to serve, pour Belle Isle and white grape juice into your serving bowl. Add cranberries & orange slices. Top with ginger ale, serve, and enjoy!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 bottle Belle Isle Black Label
    • 2 bottles white grape juice
    • 2 bottles (750 mL) ginger ale
    • 1 cup cranberries
    • 3 sliced oranges 

     

      Flavored Ice: In a gelatin mold, ice ring, muffin tin, or bundt pan, add a blend of orange and cranberry juices and chill for an hour. Once slightly chilled, add thinly sliced fruits (oranges, blood oranges, lemons, limes, and/or cranberries), and freeze until solid. Once frozen, add to your punch!

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      Recipe & post by Erica Key, editor-in-chief and founder of Eating with Erica.

      Party Prepped: Creepy Cocktails

      CocktailsBrandon DayComment
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      'Tis the season to be scary! Whether you're throwing a spooky soirée for all the creatures of the night or just having a few ghouls over for dinner, you need a Halloween cocktail that's equal parts tasty & terrifying. No idea what creepy cocktails you should be serving? Don't worry - we've got you covered! Check out these two extremely easy recipes that you can make in one big batch, so you don't have to spend all night playing bartender.

      In this petrifying play on a classic Tequila Sunrise, swap in Belle Isle Honey Habanero and use some dry ice to give this colorful cocktail a serious kick and a ghastly look.

      Ingredients:

      • 1 bottle Belle Isle Honey Habanero
      • 1.5L orange juice
      • 8 oz. lime juice
      • 4 oz. grenadine

      Preparation:

      Combine first 3 ingredients in your cauldron or container and stir heavily. Garnish cauldron with oranges, lemons, and fresh habaneros. Carefully add dry ice for the smoke effect.

      When ready to serve, add a barspoon of grenadine to the bottom of each glass, then top with ice. Ladle the drink from the cauldron over the ice in the glass, garnish, and enjoy! Serves 10-15 drinks.


      This creepy concoction might look black as night, but is tasty as pie. Add an extra dash of activated charcoal to really make your drinks even darker!

      Preparation:

      Combine drink ingredients in your container, then cut the capsule of activated charcoal in half and add half of the charcoal to the drink. Stir heavily, then garnish with blackberries.

      When ready to serve, ladle concoction into a glass over ice, garnish, and enjoy! Serves 15-20 drinks.

      Ingredients:

      • 1 bottle Belle Isle Black Label
      • 1.5L dark cherry juice
      • 750ml black raspberry liqueur
      • 1 capsule of activated charcoal

      Photos by Kate Magee

      Behind the Bar: Chad Painter // Wonderland

      Behind the BarBrandon Day3 Comments
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      In our line of work, we cross paths with a wide range of bartenders and walk into an equally diverse range of bars. While no two bars are truly the same, there are some that tend to stand out. Maybe it's because Halloween is right around the corner, but one spot tucked away in the historic Shockoe Bottom neighborhood in Richmond, VA comes to mind. We stopped by and visited our good friend Chad Painter at Wonderland for a peek into the rabbit hole and to hear how this iconic spot came into existence.

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      First thing’s first, who are you?
      Chad Painter, and I am Overlord here at Wonderland.

      How long have you been bartending?
      Probably close to 15 years now. I’ve been in the industry for about 20 years though.

      What first got you behind the bar?
      I’m a Richmond native and I’ve pretty much always been in Shockoe Bottom - I started out at a place that was across the street from where we are now. It started with me working the door at a bar, then became the back bar guy, then front bar guy, booked the bands that came through, and after I figured all of that out, I decided to just do it on my own.

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      Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?
      People tell me they want to learn to be a bartender so they’re going to go to bartending school or whatever. Here’s my thing: you can send a monkey into space if you teach it to push the same buttons over and over again. Same thing with bartending - you can go to bartending school and learn to make whatever stupid drinks people are freaking out over today. Doesn’t mean you’re going to be a good bartender or, at the end of the day, even enjoy doing it.

      Realistically it comes down to maybe 10-20% drink knowledge and the rest is just personality. It’s about knowing how to talk to people and interact. Now I’m not saying you should stand there and bullshit people, but you’re never going to know everything there is to know about making drinks. So why worry about it? Spend more time getting good at bringing people together and showing folks a good time, and the rest will come naturally.

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      Favorite drink made by someone else?
      It’s hard getting out to go places but when I get the chance, it’s more about getting to see specific people than to drink a specific cocktail. I’ll stop by to see everyone at Banditos or head over and see Beau when he’s bartending. A lot of these are folks that I’ve watched over the years and who have taught my how to “hone my craft” in one way or another.

      Favorite drink that you make?
      We don’t do the standard thing here at our bar. I don’t make up names for drinks, I don’t do a set cocktail menu, and so on. It’s different here. We ask what people like, what they don’t like, and from there we work something out. It’s more interactive and forces you to keep flexing that creative muscle. The staff will test out drink ideas on each other beforehand. Our “Bar Experiment” nights have taken a weird turn a few times...

      What is the weirdest concoction that you guys have whipped up during your “experiments”?
      We’ve made some wicked drinks before, so it’s hard to choose. Sometimes we’ll just push each other to come up with the nastiest drink we can think of, but most of the time it’s all on accident. One experiment that we thought might end up tasting decent but ended up being vile was, and I’m sorry to say, a combo of Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit and Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee. Separately, they are amazing. Together, not so great… It’s my new favorite thing to offer people when they ask for a free shot because it’s their birthday.

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      What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?
      It’s meeting new people, which is both the best and worst part of the job. You get to know people from all over the world and from different walks of life. We’ve had people walk in here that have heard from friends of friends or just searched for bars on the internet. It’s a lot of word of mouth and that brings in everybody from homeless people to CEOs and directors of whatever boards. I don’t care who you are or where you’re from or what you do, it’s all about just being here and having a good time. That motto works for me and has worked for the past 13 years now here at Wonderland.

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      What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture?
      I like when people give me the freedom and trust me enough to make something up for them. I’d say 95% of the time, it works out. And the other 5% is just a learning opportunity. The whole “craft cocktail” movement is cool, but it’s a pain in the ass to me. As a casual drinker, I don’t need every drink to be a spectacle. Some of the extracurriculars that go into some of the drinks I see are hysterical. Lots of respect to those that do it and keep the craft movement going. We’re a “beer and a shot” bar though, so it’s just a different mentality.

      With the rise in craft cocktail spots, are “beer and a shot” places like Wonderland harder to come by?
      We’ve always stuck with our original idea for Wonderland, so that’s why we remain who we are. Back in the day, especially in Shockoe Bottom, places had their shtick and stuck to it. You could walk down the strip and go into the jazz club, then pop next door into the disco club, stop by the Irish pub, go to the punk bar, and so on. These places weren’t labeled that way, but over time built up a reputation and as a result, there was a greater diversity of the types of bars you could walk into on any given night. With the craft cocktail movement coming back, a lot of places think that they should hop on the trend and do that too. So you see places conforming to that style and they all start to look the same, so now places like Wonderland seem special.

      Wonderland has a very specific atmosphere to it. How did all of this come together?
      I had a very clear vision for the place from the start, but it was definitely a snowball effect. The horror vibe is great because it’s all stuff I love and it helps keep out the riff raff of people who would be tempted to come in here and act like an idiot. Less and less places are confident enough to stick to what they know, and I don’t blame them. But sticking to my guns has made Wonderland what it is. We still have changed over the years, even if it’s all still within the same vibe that we started with. Like recently I’ve put up a lot more clown stuff since that seems to be freaking people out more. Clowns are fun and creepy - what’s not to love?

      Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.
      Have respect for yourself and the people you are interacting with. You don’t have to show them love and whatever else, but respect them. You never know what kind of day someone has had and chances are that if they are sitting at the bar, it was probably a shitty one. I just follow the age-old saying: Treat people the way you want to be treated.

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      Some lucky patrons of Wonderland get the pleasure of snapping a "bathroom selfie" with you every now and then. How did that start?
      I don’t even remember how it started. It’s just a thing you do now. When bands come through or random people visiting come by, we make them do it. It’s pointless and stupid to crowd a bunch of people into a tiny bathroom just for a picture, but it’s funny and people love it. I think there’s like 300-400 up on the Instagram hashtag now.

      Halloween isn't the only holiday around the corner. I know you're a part of a cool program in town called Punks for Presents. Tell us a little bit about that!
      Punks for Presents started 13 years ago during the holiday season. A bunch of people get together and we make cover bands, write covers of songs and add holiday stuff to it, then put on a series of shows all around town. It’s all volunteer work and all of the money we get goes straight to buying presents for kids. Each year we work with a different charity, so this year all of the proceeds are going to buying presents for kids at the Children’s Hospital at MCV. We run the shows, get together at the end, and go shopping for the toys, then take the presents over to the kids. It’s a great cause and one of those things where you know for sure that all of the money or support you are putting into it will directly benefit the kids. None of us are walking out with a check or getting anything out of it.

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      What's your favorite way to sip Belle Isle?
      I'm a big fan of Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit - it’s the shit. It’s perfect any time of the year, it’s light and crisp and fresh. And I’m not just saying that because you’re sitting here interviewing me. We make a tasty citrus drink with Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit and Belle Isle Honey Habanero.

      Preparation:

      Combine ingredients with ice, shake, and pour into a pint glass. Garnish with a lime wedge or a mint sprig.

      Ingredients:

      • 1 oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero
      • 1 oz. Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit
      • 3/4 oz. sour mix
      • ¼ oz. orange juice
      • Splash of lime juice
      • Dehydrated mint

      Photos by Joey Wharton

      Behind the Bar: Josh Seaburg // The Main

      Behind the BarBrandon DayComment
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      Hotel bars have always been a staple when it comes to American drinking culture. As a meeting point for area locals and visitors to the community, they have served as a hub for a wide array of social interactions. And what better place to perfect the art of social lubrication à la craft cocktail creations than there? While there might be a large variation in the kind and quality of hotel bar programs, one spot in particular has risen to the top.

      This is what leads us to the doorway of Hilton Norfolk - The Main, where we met up with Chief Mixologist Josh Seaburg to learn a little bit about how his work and experience has managed to reshape the Tidewater region's notions of hotel bars and elevate Virginia-made spirits like Belle Isle Moonshine within his cocktail program. 

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      First thing’s first, who are you?
      Josh Seaburg, Chief Mixologist for Hilton Norfolk - The Main.

      How long have you been bartending?
      I’ve been involved with the program here since day 0, I’ve been bartending for 6 years, in the industry for 11.

      What first got you behind the bar?
      I was a server from the ages of 16 to 21, so as soon as I had an opportunity to do something different, I took it. I started out working at a tequila bar at the oceanfront, and falling in love with Agave spirits kept me behind the bar long term.

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      Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?
      Learn and master guest service and basic cocktails before you start worrying about making your own bitters, or foraging for wild mushrooms for your dope infusion.

      Favorite drink made by someone else?
      Maggie Tsouris at Voila here in Norfolk makes the best Aviation I’ve ever had. They’ve been my downfall more than a couple of times.

      Favorite drink that you make?
      An awesome Pina Colada. It’s to the point now where I’ll occasionally get asked to bring my blender to parties to make them, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

      Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?
      Once in a great while, I’ll make a very time-consuming, ceremonial martini at home, in a wacky ratio of 3.7 to 1. I wind up measuring it with a scale. It’s just so over-the-top and I’m so picky about it that I would only ever do something like that in the privacy of my own home.

      If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose
      Agave spirits. Tequila and Mezcal are two things I couldn’t live without.

      What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?
      I like the transient nature of working in a hotel bar. We have our beloved regulars, but the majority of our guest base is only in town for a little while. It’s exciting to turn them on to the fact that there’s a growing cocktail scene in the area, and provide a memorable experience.

      Where do you like to stop in for a drink?
      I love the atmosphere at Shiptown, a clean-cooking seafood restaurant. It’s super close to my house, the food is amazing, they’re oysters are top notch, and they make a mean martini.

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      What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture?
      On the whole, I’m just really excited that more and more bartenders are understanding that making good drinks is just one part to the equation. Locally, I’m seeing more and more bartenders develop interest in maintaining cost percentages, and taking note of the business side of things, and that’s a must for anyone who wants to advance into management or ownership.

      Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.
      For bartenders, don’t get hung up on what your guest is drinking; it’s such a small part of the equation. Good regulars don’t just walk in and start ordering cool cocktails without developing a relationship, and that’s based much more on service and personality than it is on selling them a craft cocktail when they ordered a vodka cranberry.  

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      What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?
      Cold Brew Shots! That, and I really enjoy using the Honey Habanero in a Penicillin variation. The spicy and sweetness play with ginger really nicely.

      Why did you want to highlight this cocktail for Virginia Spirits Month?
      I like to share cocktails that are quick and easy to do at home. Getting guests excited to go home and recreate something they had at my bar is one of the more rewarding aspects of the job for me.

      Preparation:

      Combine all ingredients in a tin; add ice, and shake. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass, garnish with candied ginger.

      Ingredients:

      • 2 oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero
      • ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
      • ¾ oz. ginger syrup*
      • 6 drops Bittermen’s Buckspice Bitters

      *Ginger syrup recipe: equal parts sugar, ginger, and hot water by weight, blended and strained

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      Behind the Bar: Brandice Courtney // Supper Southern Morsels

      Behind the BarBrandon DayComment
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      Contrary to popular opinion, we believe that one of the best times to party on a rooftop is at the end of summer, just as the weather starts to cool down. It looks like that season has finally arrived, and just in time to celebrate Virginia Spirits Month too!

      That's why we decided to stop by one of our favorite rooftop bars, Supper Southern Morsels in Norfolk, VA to visit our friend and Bar Manager Brandice Courtney. Not only did she give us some great insight to her bar beliefs and background, she also hooked us up with their new Belle Isle cocktail on tap. And in case you were wondering, yes - it was perfect!

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      First thing’s first, who are you?
      I'm Brandice Courtney and I'm the Bar Manager, Wine Coordinator, and FOH Manager at Supper Southern Morsels.

      That's quite the lineup! How long have you been bartending?
      Just over a year now here at Supper. I have been bartending for 3 years total, but this is definitely the first "craft" - and non-speed-bar - restaurant I've ever been a part of.  The first few months were overwhelming, as my bar trainers pushed me hard and we are slammed in the summertime, especially with our rooftop bar.

      So what first got you behind the bar?
      Sometimes my ability to catch on quickly and perseverance for taking on any challenge in my sight takes me unexpected places, and that's basically how I ended up behind the bar. And that same trait is what took me from bartending to managing. I'm proud of the skillset that has gotten me this far. As a lot of people can attest, the flow of a restaurant is not exactly for everyone.

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      Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?
      Don't be afraid to get rough with the utensils. In training new bartenders, I just want them to get down and dirty with slinging bottles and not be afraid to bruise mint with a hard hand-clap and vigorously dash some bitters. Also, I'm always telling bartenders: TASTE EVERYTHING. You should always know what you're handing someone.

      Beyond that, it's all about your mentality. I try to instill in my peers the general rule that the guest is your number one priority. In this business, I think it's easy to get caught up in making sure you are fast and forget the body in the bar stool is a person and not just a tip. You can go a whole shift just getting by, or you can walk away knowing you made someone smile, you gave someone the most unique Manhattan they've ever had, etc. Just be a good person. 

      Favorite drink made by someone else?
      My old colleague Patrick introduced me to a Manhattan with Carpano Antica and black walnut bitters. It's my go-to in the chilly months.

      Favorite drink that you make?
      Honestly, tequila needs more love and attention y"all! Here's my go-to: 2 oz. blanco tequila, 1.5 oz. lime juice, 0.5 oz. agave, and a muddled fresno pepper slice, shaken hard and strained. So refreshing.

      Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?
      A nice Grenache-based rosé.

      If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
      Bulleit Bourbon 10-year.

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      What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?
      The immense freedom in what we can bring into our bar - fruit, bitters, spirits, herbs (we grow our own mint, rosemary, basil, dill) and the tools we have - CO2 infusing siphons, immersion blenders, cocktail smoker, etc. As if a bartender and a scientist collaborated, we have our own laboratory. 

      Where do you like to stop in for a drink?
      My couch? Just kidding... I really love our sister restaurant, Public House!  Dark-lit, smoking and pool room, arcade machines (GALAGA!) and a couple of the most impressively knowledgeable bartenders I have the privilege to be acquainted with. 

      What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture?
      I'm happy to see food culture's farm-to-table prevalence seeping into cocktail culture. The more ingredients at hand, the better. Again, tequila! It's making a comeback in the craft cocktail scene, as it is more versatile than most perceive it to be. I will say, canned and bottled cocktails always have and always will irk me. I'm old-school and love the building of a cocktail upon request. 

      What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture?

      I'm happy to see food culture's farm-to-table prevalence seeping into cocktail culture. The more ingredients at hand, the better.
      I will say, canned and bottled cocktails always have and always will irk me. I'm old-school and love the building of a cocktail upon request. 
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      Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.
      For bartenders: Practice, taste, practice, taste, SLEEP!
      For guests: "I want something fun," is not a cocktail.  I'm just sayin'...

      What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?
      My forte is floral and herbal. The Belle Isle Black Label seems to especially open up floral flavors and balances well with the spice of Fentiman's ginger beer. I also really love the combination or rosemary and citrus in our Belle Isle cocktail on tap.

      Preparation:

      Combine ingredients in a tin with ice, shake, then strain into a glass over fresh ice. Garnish with rosemary sprig.

      Ingredients:

      • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit
      • ¾ oz. spiced orange syrup
      • splash of pomegranate juice
      • sprig of rosemary
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      Behind the Bar: MaryEllen Fournier // The Public House

      Behind the BarBrandon DayComment
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      This summer, we launched one of our most exciting projects yet - Belle Isle draft cocktails. Yes, you read that right. Tasty, thirst-quenching cocktails available on tap at your favorite bars. For this next feature in our Behind the Bar series, we figured it was time to stop by The Public House in Norfolk, VA, the first bar ever to bring on a Belle Isle draft cocktail. We sat down at the bar across from MaryEllen, the General Manager at The Public House, to hear more about her story and what gives The Public House its mojo - and to try their cocktail on tap!

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      First thing’s first, who are you?
      I'm MaryEllen Fournier and I am the General Manager/Employee Wrangler at The Public House in Norfolk, VA.

      How long have you been bartending?
      4 years at Pub and about 9 years total.

      What first got you behind the bar?
      I was drawn to the atmosphere. I love talking to all different types of people and the fast-paced environment behind the bar makes time fly. There is always something to do and you’re always moving. Perfect fit for me.

      Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?
      Always present yourself with a smile, greet your customers with eye contact, and provide great service even when you are crazy busy. It goes a long way.

      Favorite drink to have?
      I’m a beer and a shot kind of girl.

      Favorite drink to make?
      Hendricks and soda, with a splash of elderflower tonic.

      Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?
      A tiki drink with coconut and a silly drink umbrella garnish.

      Pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life.
      I love muddled cucumber and basil in just about anything.

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      Favorite part about working at The Public House?
      Pub offers two separate personalities: our more formal, restaurant-style approach up front, and a casual smoking lounge with pool tables and arcade games in the back. Our charm is in our versatility. We’re a full service cocktail bar, a well stocked beer bar, and the neighborhood “Cheers”.

      Where do you stop in for a drink?
      A: Anywhere quiet and low-key. 

      What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture?
      Today’s cocktail culture has gotten a little oversaturated with complicated takes on classic cocktails. I think it’s time to go back to the basics.

      Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.
      Leave your ego at the door.

      What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?
      I'll pick up Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee and mix it up. Perfect at the end of the night when you want that coffee taste and a great buzz.

      Preparation:

      1. Pour Belle Isle, Kahlua, Amaretto, and cold brew in shaker tin and toss from tin to tin.
      2. Pour tossed ingredients over ice in a chilled pint glass.
      3. Shake Baileys and heavy cream in a chilled tin and float on top.
      4. Garnish with fresh mint.

      Ingredients:

      • 2 oz. Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee
      • 1 oz. Kahlua
      • ¼ oz. Amaretto
      • ¼ oz. Baileys
      • Splash of heavy cream
      • Cold brew coffee of your choice
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        How to make it The Public House-style (on tap):

        In a soda keg, combine and shake:

        • 4 bottles Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee
        • 1 bottle Kahlua
        • 1 bottle Amaretto
        • 4 bottles cold brew coffee concentrate

        Pull cocktail from tap over ice in a pint glass. Shake Baileys and heavy cream in a chilled tin, then float on top of the cocktail. Garnish with fresh mint.

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