Belle Isle Moonshine

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

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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    Behind the Bar: Stefan Bachvarov // Le District

    Behind the BarBrandon DayComment

    Right in the heart of the Financial District is the last place you'd expect to find one of the most serene spots in Manhattan, yet that's exactly where Le District lies tucked away. Complete with cafes, fresh markets, upscale dining experiences, and an impeccable bar, Le District is a one-stop shop for quality French-inspired fare.

    We stepped away from the hustle and bustle of the city to sit down with Stefan Bachvarov of Le District's bar, appropriately named Le Bar, to learn how the surrounding market at Le District provides him the ingredients and inspiration to create his gorgeous and ingenious cocktails.

    How long have you been bartending?

    I've been bartending over 15 years now. It started out as just a summer job as a kid. That summer was so busy for us that I had to help work the service bar, and I fell in love!

    Favorite classic cocktail?

    Manhattan.

    Favorite part about working at Le District?

    I like learning something new every day thanks to all of the amazing people around our bar. I also love the diversity of our clientele.

    What makes your bar unique?

    At Le District, we have everything. From our Michelin star chef Nico Abello's incredible creations, to our coffee, our fresh fruit and vegetables we use, to our cocktails and wine - there is so much to work with and create. Being around like-minded people is so encouraging and creates a fantastic atmosphere.

    What cocktail do you hope people ask for?

    Something classic with some French inspiration, like Armagnac, Calvados, or Cognac, that we can pair with something like Belle Isle Moonshine to create a fun, new drink.

    Favorite cocktail to sip on when no one is looking?

    Honey Habanero Margarita! 

    Favorite menu item + cocktail pairing?

    Steak Tartare and Vieux Carre Nord.

    Can you share a Belle Isle creation with us?

    We always like to have a variation of a margarita on our cocktail menu. When we found Belle Isle Honey Habanero, we knew we had to use it! It's the perfect balance of sweet and spicy - helps you pass the day as you guzzle down some oysters!

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    Preparation:

    Shake all ingredients over ice, then strain and serve in a chilled coupe with freshlt cracked pepper on top.

    Ingredients:

    • ¾ oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero
    • 1 ½ oz. Altos Olmeca Tequila
    • ½ oz. Cointreau
    • ¼ oz. Belfoir Ginger Syrup
    • ¾ oz. lime juice
    • ¾ oz. pineapple juice

    Recipe by Stefan Bachvarov of Le District | Photos by Matt Evans

    Happy Hour With: Hummingbird Gardens

    Cocktails, Infusions, Happy Hour WithBrandon DayComment
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    One sunny summer afternoon, Amanda Montgomery, owner of Hummingbird Gardens, invited us over to see her amazing garden and, of course, mix up some delicious, refreshing cocktails using fresh herbs. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, Amanda will teach you everything you need to know about using fresh herbs in infusions and cocktails.

    Tell us a little about your company.

    Hummingbird Gardens is an herb, edible flower, and cut flower-focused market garden (or yard farm) that is in my front and backyard in Southside Richmond. I source mainly to local restaurants and have a small garden share program that provides folks with herbs, a bouquet, and an item from another partner business. In addition, I make herb salts that I sell on my website, some retail sites, and at events like Brunch Market.

    We broke ground in October of 2015 and I had my first season in 2016. It feels like yesterday and a million years ago all at the same time!

    How long have you been gardening?

    I’ve done it in spurts my whole life. I had some marigolds as a kid and spent a lot of time hauling plants around for my grandmas when I would visit them in Savannah and New Jersey. I started gardening in earnest my senior year of college and continued after I graduated. I volunteered with Tricycle Gardens not from from the Belle Isle Moonshine distillery and helped break ground on their farm in Manchester. After that, I went to graduate school in Pittsburgh where I worked at a small farm called Churchview Farm and at my school’s farm, Eden Hall.

    What do you love most about gardening?

    There's so much to love! I love bringing more life into the world. I love creating a space that other people and creatures can be happy in and can thrive. I love watching things grow and (hopefully) helping them along. Most importantly, I love sharing what I grow with others.

    What are you growing currently?

    Loaded question! I grow a variety of herbs including 3 kinds of thyme, 7 kinds of basil, 4 kinds of sage, and a bunch of edible flowers including bachelor’s buttons (which I'll be using in a cocktail today), cosmos, anise hyssop, and gem marigolds. 

    Who do you work with in the area? How are folks using your products?

    I have a Garden Share program that several local restaurants participate in - it’s basically a CSA and they get 5 items from me a week for 20 weeks. My clients all use my products differently, but I’ve seen edible flowers in anything from cocktails to desserts, and recently I saw that Hutch used my pineapple sage in one of their fish dishes. Sometimes we come up with things together!

    What are some tips for using fresh herbs in infusions and cocktails?

    You can use fresh herbs as a garnish, muddle them when mixing a drink, or make a simple syrup infusion.

    Fresh herbs are a lot of fun to experiment with in cocktails and infusions. Unlike dried ingredients such as tea leaves that infuse very quickly, fresh herbs give you a bit more room to play around. You can adjust how powerful you want the flavor of the herbs to be by changing quantity used and time left infusing.

    My infusion recipes are typically 1 part herb to 4-6 parts spirit. When you use a spirit with a higher alcohol content like Belle Isle 100 Proof, it pulls flavors from the herbs quicker than a lower proof spirit will. I'll put my infusion in a sealed container for a full day, taste it, and continue to infuse it for another 2-4 days, just tasting it along the way. Once it gets to where I want, I pull the herbs out, fine strain out anything left, and put it back in a bottle.

    My favorite herbs to use in cocktails are basil, lemon verbena, or rosemary.

    I think of herbs as the knot that ties other ingredients together by complementing their flavors or adding a new element to a cocktail to round it out. So if your other ingredients are all bitter, you might use something citrusy or tea-like. If your cocktail is hearty and heavy, you might use a bright, spicy herb to finish it off. A lot of times I'll use dishes from cuisines around the world to think of flavor pairing ideas and inspiration.
     
    What fresh herb-infused cocktails did you make today?

    Preparation:

    Muddle blueberries and thyme in the bottom of a highball glass. Add ice to the glass, pour in Belle Isle Premium Moonshine, top with seltzer, and stir.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. Belle Isle Premium Moonshine
    • 6-10 fresh blueberries
    • 1 sprig of thyme
    • 2 oz. seltzer water

    Preparation:

    Add a coffee ice cube to a glass, then top with lavender-infused Belle Isle & tonic and stir.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. lavender-infused Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee Moonshine*
    • 3 oz. tonic water

    *Add 1-2 lavender flower heads to 12 oz. Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee Moonshine, let steep for 4 hours, tasting occasionally.

    Home Bar: KK Harris | Richmond, VA

    Home BarBrandon DayComment

    Welcome to Belle Isle's first Home Bar Highlight. This week, we visited the home of KK Harris, owner of House of Floralie, a Richmond, VA boutique specializing in thoughtfully made chocolates, soaps, fragrances, accessories & stationery from around the world. KK's attention to detail is equally evident on the shelves of her store as in her home.

    Join us as KK discusses her approach to entertaining, shares her favorite spot at home to enjoy a cocktail, and offers few easy and delicious Belle Isle cocktails.

    What are your home bar essentials?

    We enjoy traveling and whenever we go out of town, I always make a point to stop at a liquor store. We were in London for New Years and I bought a rare gin at Fortnum & Mason that is only available in small quantities in the UK. For me, the small batch bottles make the bar more interesting.

    What parts of your bar most reflect your style and personality?

    My Mom really inspired a love of vintage from a young age, so many of the items I use to style our bar have been collected through the years. I love antique cut crystal coupes for punch and old apothecary milk glass vessels for fresh herbs. At the same time, I mix in newer pieces I find that can really take a beating. I don’t worry about anything looking worn. It makes things feel more approachable.

    What’s your favorite thing on your bar?

    Our cocktail napkins. I had a crest that was especially created for us by Happy Menocal digitally printed on fabric in North Carolina. Together, my Mom and I sewed them for a party we had. They’re one of a kind, we have enough for a big crowd, and they wash easily in the laundry. I never have to buy paper napkins again.

    What’s your favorite cocktail to make for yourself right now?

    Lately I’ve been experimenting with flower blossom syrups that are imported for our store from Provence, as well as handmade tinctures with different botanical and spice ingredients. One tincture I made from cardamom and pink pepper berries is incredible with Belle Isle Honey Habanero.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero
    • 1 tsp. L’Epicurie Rose Syrup
    • 8 drops cardamom-pink pepper tincture
    • juice of ½ a lemon
    • 1 ½ oz. Fentimans Rose Lemonade
    • 6-8 mint leaves

    Preparation:

    In the base of a chilled cocktail shaker, muddle freshly picked mint leaves with Belle Isle Honey Habanero. Add ice, then add L’Epicurie Rose Syrup, cardamom-pink pepper tincture, and juice of half a lemon. Shake 25-30 times, then strain into chilled cocktail glass and top with Fentimans Rose Lemonade.

    *How to make the cardamom-pink pepper tincture: Combine 2 oz. Belle Isle 80 proof with 1 teaspoon cardamom and 1 teaspoon pink pepper berries in a food safe dropper bottle. 

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    Where is your favorite spot to sip a cocktail at home?

    We are very fortunate to have a lovely enclosed back yard that is a haven for wildlife. I’ll sit on our back porch and hope for a magical glance of a bunny or rare bird.

    What cocktails do make when you Entertain at home?

    Always a punch. It’s so easy and people can help themselves. I like to make it once everyone has already arrived, so it’s nice and cold. I invested in a vintage Limoges punch bowl for our wedding, and it has been the highlight of every party since. I co-hosted a baby shower this past weekend and made a peach limeade punch. The crowd loved it.

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    Are there any cocktail recipes that hold a special place in your heart and on your bar?

    Two that I can think of really stick out, both punches. 
     
    First, a bourbon punch that I made for a pre-graduation party while at College of Charleston, called “Open House Punch.” It came from the St. Michael’s Faithfully Charleston cookbook, which one of my girlfriends had given me. That was a fun night.
     
    Second, a recipe that was developed by my Mom called “Hummingbird Punch,” and was served at our wedding. (When we make this in the winter, we call it ‘Partridge in a Pear Tree.’) Combine one part pear vodka, one part white cranberry juice, and one part ginger ale. The white cranberry juice makes all the difference. Garnish with pomegranate seeds or edible rose petals.

    What cocktail Are you maKing today?

    This recipe makes the perfect punch for a bridal shower.

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    Ingredients:

    • 1 bottle Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit
    • 2 bottles brut champagne or sparkling wine
    • 5 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur
    • 5 oz. ruby red grapefruit juice
    • 2 ½ oz. lemon juice
    • 2 ½ oz. lime juice

    Preparation:

    Combine all ingredients into a punch bowl, stir, then garnish with an ice ring and fresh herbs of your choosing to add a twist to your punch. Serve over ice.

    Cocktail recipes by KK Harris  |  Photography by Joey Wharton


    Want to be featured in our Journal?

    Send us a few photos of your home bar setup at info@belleislecraftspirits.com

    Party Prepped: The Halftail

    Brandon DayComment

    Here at Belle Isle Premium Moonshine, we're always dreaming up new ways to create cocktails in easier, less complicated ways. One of our favorite no-stress methods is the Halftail, an easy to-go cocktail you can build when you have half a bottle of Belle Isle Premium Moonshine left. The Halftail is a perfect solution for the party procrastinator or anyone who has just run out of cocktail recipes, especially for outdoor entertaining when there's not a fully stocked bar or kitchen nearby. The concept is simple, and the method is even easier.

    To keep the Halftail easy to make in a pinch, we like to create cocktail recipes using ingredients you can find in your pantry or at any grocery store. Each Halftail recipe is as simple as combining all the ingredients into your half-empty bottle of Belle Isle Premium Moonshine, shaking, chilling, and pouring over ice.

    Halftail #1: The Belle Breeze

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    Use a funnel to keep things from getting messy.

    Use a funnel to keep things from getting messy.

    Ingredients:

    • Half a bottle of Belle Isle Premium Moonshine
    • 10 oz. cranberry juice
    • 2 oz. lime juice

    How to serve it:

    Pour over ice in a rocks glass, garnish with a lime wedge, and optionally top with a splash of soda.

     

    Halftail #2: The Manchester Matador

    Ingredients:

    • Half a bottle of Belle Isle Honey Habanero
    • 10 oz. pineapple juice
    • 2 oz. lime juice

    How to serve it:

    Pour over ice in a Collins glass, garnish with a lime wheel, and top optionally with a splash of lime seltzer water (we're La Croix diehards here).

     

    Halftail #3: The Shiny Daly

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    Ingredients:

    • Half a bottle of Ruby Red Grapefruit
    • 6 oz. iced tea
    • 6 oz. lemonade

    How to serve it:

    Pour over ice in a Collins glass and garnish with a lemon wheel.

     

    Halftail #4: The Coco Latte

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    Ingredients:

    • Half a bottle of Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee
    • 10 oz. sweetened coconut milk
    • 2 oz. orange blossom honey
    • 2 cinnamon sticks

    How to serve it:

    Pour over ice into a shaker tin. Shake vigorously, then strain into a glass over fresh ice. 

     

    While these Halftail recipes are certainly tried and true, that doesn't mean they are an exact science. You can adjust, shift, and swap recipes and ingredients to fit your preferences by playing with proportions and taste-testing along the way.

    Do you have an easy, mobile cocktail recipe or method you like to us? Let us know in the comments below!

    Behind the Bar: Alex + Lily // Green Pig Bistro

    Behind the BarBrandon Day2 Comments

    Being behind the bar sometimes feels like a love-hate relationship. You get to wake up much later than your 9-5 friends, but your work day ends closer 3am. You're able to help people unwind from stress, but have seen them take it too far. Like any good relationship, bartending takes balance.

    If anybody has perfected that balance, it has to be Alex and Lily. Not only are they able to run the bar at Green Pig Bistro with expertise and creativity, they have also learned to balance personal and professional. It's not often you see a husband and wife behind the bar together, so we stopped by to learn more about how they mix work & home just as successfully as they mix cocktails.

    Tell us about yourselves. 

    Alex: I'm Alex and I am the Bar Manager at Green Pig Bistro in Arlington, Virginia.

    Lily: I'm Lily, and I am a bartender at Green Pig Bistro. We've both been here at GPB for a little over a year now.

    Alex: And we happen to be married as well.

    When did you first get behind the bar?

    Alex: About 4 years ago, I started at a sushi place (SEI) in D.C. The training there was good, and being friends with the bartenders, they were kind enough to get me started. I was making everything from rum & Cokes to egg white lavender margaritas. 

    Lily: I started out young working at a Vietnamese sports bar, mainly pouring beer and wine. 

    What drinks do you like to make?

    Alex:  I enjoy to make a little bit of everything. New experiences matter to me. I'm constantly changing the cocktail menu because of seasonality, while trying to bring flavor from all around the world to taste new and different combinations. Personal guilty pleasure though, definitely a Cinnamon Pineapple Daiquiri. 

    Lily: These days, I finesse classic cocktails. I am an advocate for mojitos done right and anything tiki style that isn't overwhelmingly sweet.

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    What’s it like being both coworkers and spouses?

    Alex: It feels natural for us being both coworkers and spouses, because we make a pretty good team behind the bar.

    Lily: A big pro is that we can rely on each other. A con is that its hard for us to plan a long vacation, because we both work full time in the same place. Overall, we love each other's company and have a really good time working together. 

    Tell us about your bar.

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    Alex: Green Pig Bistro is a very warm and welcoming restaurant with an awesome bar. The cocktail program is inspired by the seasons, an appreciation of classic cocktails, as well as bartender creativity.  Giving bartenders a chance to place an original cocktail on the menu also helps with its diversity. 

    Lily: The vibe is local and cozy. I like to think I'm the inspiration for the cocktail program. 

    What’s the neighborhood like?

    Alex: Green Pig is located in Clarendon in Arlington, Virginia. It is a few blocks from the busy main street inhabited by chain food spots and various retail, which makes it a hidden gem amongst the neighborhood in Arlington. 

    Lily: The people that stop into our bar are folks who live really close by and people who know where to go to get a good cocktail in the area.

    Favorite part about your bar?

    Alex: The freedom of creativity. Working with fresh and different ingredients keeps me inspired. And not only do we have great drinks, but we have great food too.

    Lily: I love the quality of our cocktails. We take pride in using house-made ingredients in our cocktails, as well as juicing our citrus by hand daily.

    Favorite cocktail + menu item pairing?

    Alex: Fried Chicken Biscuits with the Smoking Old Fashioned. 

    Lily: This season, I like the Kiss of Mint on our menu. It's refreshing and not too sweet. It's a muddled mint margarita with fresh grapefruit juice and hopped bitters. I would pair that with our albacore sesame dish.

    What inspires your cocktails?

    Alex: I am inspired by my surroundings and local produce as well as trying to recreate flavors that I loved as a child, showing just a little bit of where I come from. I am also in love with a food documentary series on Netflix called Chef's Table

    Lily: I am inspired by whatever flavors I am interested in during the season. I tend to create cocktails that I would enjoy drinking.


    What are your Belle Isle cocktails?

    Alex: The inspiration for this cocktail came from a wine that kind of smelled like grapefruit and green bell pepper. I was trying to make the flavors work, but green bell pepper can be a little overwhelming. While randomly speaking with a fellow bartender Ben, he says, "Why don't you try red bell pepper instead?" Then it all came together. I like using ingredients that people don't normally see in drinks.

    Preparation:

    Shake all ingredients with ice and strain over a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange peel for zest.

    Recipe by Alex of Green Pig Bistro

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. Red Bell Pepper-infused Belle Isle Premium Moonshine
    • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
    • 1/2 oz, honey simple
    • 2 dashes lemon bitters
    How to make Red Bell Pepper Infusion: Blend three large red bell peppers with a bottle of Belle Isle Premium Moonshine. Let sit for 24 hours, then strain through a cheesecloth.

    Lily: I am part Vietnamese, so my cocktail is inspired by traditional Vietnamese iced coffee. Creating this cocktail was a fun and nostalgic experience. It's definitely something I would order if I was day-drinking.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 oz. Belle Isle Premium Moonshine
    • 1 oz. Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee
    • 3 oz. cold brew coffee
    • 1/2 oz. condensed milk
    • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

    Preparation:

    Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice.

    Recipe by Lily of Green Pig Bistro

      Lily's notes: Our cold brew coffee recipe is 1 part local Swing's coffee grounds to 6 parts cold filtered water. The mixture is refrigerated overnight and strained the next day. After straining, I usually premix the condensed milk into the cold brew to allow the ingredients to blend better. If I am batching this cold-brew, I may use up to 4 cans of condensed milk.

      Photos by Kate Magee

      Behind the Bar: Lyndsay Blair // Scotty Quixx

      Behind the BarBrandon Day

      If you talk to anyone who’s been bartending long enough, you’re bound to hear some serious insight into the human psyche. If there’s one truth you discover behind the bar, it’s that we are all creatures of habit. Rather than fight our true nature, sometimes it’s better to embrace it.

      That’s why when you walk into Scotty Quixx, your usual drink is waiting for you on the bar. When you sit down, you’ll see the same groups of friends hanging out, regulars bunny-hopping each other on the jukebox and laughing, and the manager Lyndsay Blair sneaking Harry Potter on a TV somewhere. We made the trip down to Lyndsay’s bar to hear more about the rituals of Scotty Quixx that make this beach bar both a destination and a pit stop for folks from all walks of life.

      Tell us about yourself.

      I’m the manager of Scotty Quixx off Birdneck Road. This location has been open for about four years, and our original location on Virginia Beach Boulevard has been open for seven years.

      How did you get into bartending?

      I started out in the restaurant business when I was sixteen as a hostess and busser. Over the years as I was finishing school, I moved to serving tables, then to bartending, then into management. I’ve been bartending off and on for nine years. Honestly, the money is what attracted me to being behind the bar and is what kept me coming back.

      Any hobbies / side gigs / secret identities? 

      When I’m not working, I’m at home hanging out with my animals. Puppies are my hobby. Well, also cats, bunnies, squirrels and birds. I got a backyard full. I also love to watch the History Channel: Ms. Marple and Murder, She Wrote, because I’m secretly 70 years old.

      Favorite drink to make:

      Shooters, or fancy craft cocktails when I can. We don’t get to do that a lot at Scotty Quixx, so on the rare occasion someone wants something special, it is enjoyable to make. I have also been told I make a mean Lemon Drop.

      Favorite drink to sip:

      Diet Coke.

      Favorite “guilty pleasure” drink:

      Diet Coke. Seriously. I’m a fiend for it. As far as booze goes, my taste buds have changed over the years. Never thought I’d grow away from the light beer and shots. But when I do indulge in an adult beverage these days, it’s been a mule, wheat beer, or glass of wine. 

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      What's the vibe at Scotty Quixx?

      Scotty Quixx is a super laid-back and friendly neighborhood bar. We are both a destination and pit stop. It’s a place you can stop at on the way home from work, on the way out for the night, the last stop before going home after a night out, or just because you don’t want to sit at home. We have a lot of people call or text us that they’re bored and are coming up to sit and hang out. We’ve been dubbed the living room, decompression tank, etc. 

      Who typically comes in?

      We have a really good mix of all ages and types of people. We have families, construction workers, business professionals, etc. We have just as many people over the age of 50 sitting at the bar joking on us, as we do under the age of 30. Everyone fits in. Everyone gets along. And everyone makes friends.

      What makes your bar unique?

      The copious amounts of M&Ms, candy, and snacks that we offer to everyone. Probably the only place you’ll hear a customer jokingly order lasagna and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, and they get a Miller Light draft and a handful of M&Ms instead. Every day I have someone bringing me M&Ms, whether it’s to be nice or to keep me happy when I’m getting my butt kicked during football Sundays.

      I also think we're much different from other bars in the area. Besides the ridiculous amount of candy on the bar that I mentioned, we really connect with the folks that come in here. We will learn your name and drink quickly, and we will remember your puppy’s name and kid’s name. We care about our customers because they really are our friends. Not just our front of the house staff either. Our kitchen manager and cooks are always coming out to say hi or hang out if they have a second.

      What makes for a "perfect bartender"?

      Having the ability to read people makes for a great bartender. Anyone can follow a recipe or learn how to make drinks, but it’s knowing what people need, want, or expect that sets you apart. Do they need a laugh, do they need to vent, do they need to be left alone to work or think? Do they need more ranch dressing? Or the answer to the trivia question just asked? I love anticipating what people need or want, whether it’s a drink, service, or personal interaction. I always say it’s what I would want if I were sitting there.

      How has the bar scene here changed?

      With the huge growth of interest in craft beers, bourbons and whiskey, we see a lot more classic cocktails being ordered now, when years ago it was all Jäger bombs and Bud Light. We have a lot more Old Fashioned's, vodka martinis and Manhattans ordered these days. I'm a big fan of the change. Bartending is definitely coming full circle and returning to its roots as an art form. Makes you want to brush up on the history and basics, and learn what’s new. 

      Can you share a Belle Isle cocktail with us?

      I'm a big fan of mules, so when one of our liquor reps introduced me to Belle Isle Honey Habanero, I absolutely fell in love with it and knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. Now I search bar shelves for Belle Isle whenever I’m out. This is definitely my new favorite drink to push at the bar whenever someone is unsure of what to drink.

      As for the name, it was actually inspired by a couple of regulars. Over time, we’ve been given tons of nicknames: Squixx, Sqx Jr., etc. One day a group of guys, headed by our good friends Josh and Jason, decided to come up with a nickname for the opposite of Scotty Quixx. Not sure if it was for fun or if they needed a secret codeword - not sure I want to know, either. Naturally, the opposite of Scotty Quixx came to be Tommy Long Times. Made perfect sense. 

      Ingredients:

      • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero
      • 6 oz. ginger beer
      • 1/6 oz. fresh lime juice
      • 1 lime wedge for garnish

      Preparation:

      Fill copper mule mug with ice. Pour in Belle Isle Honey Habanero, then top with ginger beer. Add fresh squeezed lime juice. Garnish with a lime wedge.

      Warm Weather-Ready Cocktails

      CocktailsBrandon DayComment

      It's official: Spring has sprung. We're shaking off our winter blues with a few of our favorite cocktail recipes that are the perfect way to kick off patio season.

      Want more recipes? We've got you covered.