Belle Isle Moonshine

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Behind the Bar: Joyce Thaxton // Ocean 27

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
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It's quite possible that Ocean 27 in Virginia Beach is the perfect beach bar. What makes the perfect beach bar, you ask? Here are the requirements: A) serious outdoor activities (cornhole, anyone?) B) simple, refreshing cocktails to help you beat the heat and forget about your sunburn (your general smashes, crushes, etc.) C) food that requires no utensils to eat (bonus points for ICE CREAM) and, finally, D) fun, knowledgable bartenders who elevate your sunny vibes. Joyce Thaxton, the bar's General Manager, definitely adds the final piece to this boozy puzzle. As a 10+ year veteran of the service industry, this feisty bar maven can whip up tasty cocktails for huge crowds of patrons without breaking a sweat. We recently checked in with Joyce to try to get her to spill her secrets. Read on to learn her "Golden Rule" for patrons, her advice to bar newbies, and the recipe for the dangerously drinkable Virginia Beach Smash!


TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I’m Joyce Thaxton, the General Manager and Head Bartender (but also known as “Mom”) here at Ocean 27 on the Virginia Beach boardwalk. I’ve been tending the bar for well over 10 years. I love it. I live for the high volume, getting weeded, and pumping out the drinks while throwing bangers.

What first got you behind the bar?

I started at 18 as a cocktail waitress at the ever-so-awesome Peabody's nightclub. It’s a staple at the beach, for sure - the longest running “nightclub” in the area. I fell in love with the energy, the nightlife, and the industry. My insatiable love for money and extreme work ethic led me up the totem pole from waitress to the GM of one of the busiest bars in Virginia, period. I am humbled, yet extremely aware that hard work is everything.

Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

No one knows it all. No one. That includes myself. I’ve trained over 30 bartenders in my years, and you need to be a sponge. Observe, soak it in, and go for it! You need to be accepting of change, new information, and the fact that one drink can be made 789 different ways! Bartending is high energy and fun. If you aren’t a people person, multitasker, or all-around awesome, this is probably not gonna work out for you.

Favorite drink made by someone else?

The Agave Smash created by one of my liquor reps, actually! It’s made with blanco tequila, agave nectar, and fresh mint. You bruise it to all hell and serve it over crushed ice. The combination of tequila, the sweet hint of the nectar, the pulverized mint leaves, and the froth in the glass from the perfect beating is heaven in your mouth.

Favorite drink that you make?

Being a “tourist attraction” on the beach, my favorite drink to pour on the daily is a great Rum Runner. The look on the guest's face when you four-bottle hold and pour a strong, fruity, and delicious (not to mention eye pleasing) cocktail - it's what their vacation dreams are made of!

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Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Jameson. I’m a solid Jameson girl. We bartenders know it’s not the best, but it’s home. It’s comforting.

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Fresh pineapple juice. It literally goes with any spirit and makes everything refreshing!

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What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

It’s literally a vacation with a paycheck. Don’t get me wrong - it’s high volume, and managing a staff of over 100 people, I will admit that sometimes I’m a walking, talking stress ball of energy. I love it. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

What makes your bar unique?

Giant games throughout the park, live music daily, an awesome and fun staff, and the ocean view from sunrise to sunset isn’t so bad either.

 

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

I used to be the life of the party, known in every bar as the girl dancing on the tables. That was years ago. I’m now the low-key one. I don’t want to go anywhere I can’t hear myself think and enjoy a few shots and drinks. I stick to small "locals"  bars, and after a long week, I just want to go to Chicho's on 29th Street and have my Jameson and a slice of pepperoni pizza. Shout out to Matt Potter and his awesome staff!

 

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

I’ve done the whole fine dining scene, the high-volume nightclubs, and the vacation beach bar. I love seeing the spotlight on the mixology aspect. The precision, the building of the cocktail, the diversity of what you can infuse into a drink. The “crafting” of the cocktail. It’s awesome to see the recognition that a drink is not just a drink!

 

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Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

As a high volume bartender, this is to the guests: please know what it is that you want to drink. We are not mind readers, the liquor comes before the mixer, and, for the love of everything that is holy, just start a tab!

 

 

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

A chilled shot of Cold Brew Coffee after a long day. The fact that it has caffeine is just a bonus!


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Virginia Beach Smash

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Black Label

  • squeeze half a lemon

  • top with lemon-lime soda

  • grenadine float

 

Preparation:

Build in glass over crushed ice.

 

All photos by Joey Wharton.

Recipe courtesy of Joyce Thaxton of Ocean 27.

 

Want more Behind the Bar action?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Click below to learn more about Belle Isle!

Behind the Bar: Ginny Lawhorn // Sticky Rice

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
GinnyShake.jpg

As a sushi restaurant with an innovative, 100% vegan bar program in a potentially haunted historical building in Baltimore, Sticky Rice Baltimore is definitely one-of-a-kind. So too is Ginny Lawhorn, the restaurant's managing partner and bar wizard. With nearly two decades of service industry experience, a serious amount of knowledge, Ginny knows a thing or two about the bar business. We recently chatted with Ginny about what it takes to run a bar, being a part of Baltimore's bar scene, and how to cure many of life's ailments with whiskey and water. She also shared with us her recipe for the tasty, versatile, and fantastically-named Just Like Honey.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I'm Ginny Lawhorn, Managing Partner of Sticky Rice Baltimore and Bar Lead at Landmark Theatre, Harbor East. I have been bartending for 16 years.  I have run the bar program with Landmark Harbor East for 10 years and have managed the Front of House and beverage program at Sticky Rice Baltimore for six years.

What first got you behind the bar?

Oh, gosh…a need to pay my rent while I was in school got me into hospitality.  That and being too antsy and too nocturnal for offices. What got me behind a bar was the fastest “YES!” in the west when a bartender no-showed for a shift, and I swore I could cover the service bar.  I dug my heals in and stayed put from there.

Favorite drink made by someone else?

Anything Amie Ward at R. Bar or Chelsea Gregoire at Hotel Revival.  The company can not be beat! Put your faith in the brilliance, skills, and knowledge of these badass babes!

 

Favorite drink that you make?

A Last Word.  I am very partial to ratio cocktails and am head over heals for “perfect” cocktails.  Last Words are equal measure classic cocktail, timeless chic, international flair, and good taste.  The scent of a well made Last Word also lingers just long enough to brighten the day of those around it!  Try subbing Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit for the gin in a Last Word for an extra zippy citrus-forward gem!

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Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Orangina!  I love citrus. I think Orangina is a gift from the heavens.  My mom used to say the only thing I took away from living in California when I was little is an obsession with Orangina and artichokes.

 

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Water, sparkling and flat.  I think water is the most underutilized component of cocktail programs.  I often joke that whiskey in water is the cure to most ailments. Sore throat?  Whiskey in hot water. Upset stomach? Whiskey in sparkling water. Heartbreak? Whiskey on the rocks.  

 

What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

My very favorite part of working in hospitality is building your “Bar Family.”  The time you spend locked behind a bar, or on the floor of a restaurant, or in a kitchen provides very unique environments for relationship building.  Sharing small spaces, working long shifts and late nights day after day creates bonds you don’t find in every field. The respect for personhood and sense of community in our industry is our pillar of strength and strongest intrinsic value.  I am grateful for the opportunity to help create and cultivate a work home for my teams.

 

What makes your bar unique?

Landmark is unique in the constantly changing line up of guests based on film release.  Seven movie screens with seven titles offers seven audiences. It is a super fun setting for a movie geek. 10 years later I am still super excited to talk movie shop with guests every new release Friday.

Sticky Rice Baltimore is incredibly unique in environment. In 1904, a mahogany wood bar was commissioned in Germany destined for a home in America.  After being meticulously crafted and spending several months at sea this bar arrived in the port of Baltimore.  With might and some struggle it was installed by hand at 1634 Aliceanna Street.  This bar found its home at Dix Hotel, an Irish bar on the first floor topped with two floors of boarding rooms above.  Over the next century this bar would continually operate, passing through a few hands and concepts.  

In 2010, Sticky Rice Baltimore found a home here.  Embracing the truest roots of Baltimore's hospitality while mixing in fusion offerings, we have been fortunate to belly up to this bar for the last eight years.  I don’t take for granted our incredible fortune to be able to see this bar through this generation and iteration of hospitality.

The building is haunted AF too. 


Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

I am a sucker for a nice patio and a good view!  Little Havana is my favorite in Baltimore. Parc is my must in Philly.  Momofuku CCDC is my favorite guilty pleasure in DC.

 

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

Baltimore has an incredibly vibrant cocktail culture that is very supportive and inclusive.  It is a city that takes pride in the beer and spirits made here. Union Craft Brewing is leading by incredible example in support and inclusion with the creation of the Union Craft Collective. This new space will house Union Brewing, Baltimore Whiskey Company, Vent Coffee and a variety of other local purveyors.

 

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

For both guests and bartenders, wherever possible: “Be kind to everyone you meet, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”.  I don’t say it to sound cliché or “golden rule” shame anyone. Just as a simple reminder that you don’t know what happened that has brought this person in front of you.  I went to work the day my best friend passed away from breast cancer because I didn’t know where else to go or what else to do. I have had guests come in immediately following being laid off because seeing a movie was what made sense at that time.  "Please" and "Thank You" always help! Lead with kindness whenever you are able.

 

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

A Belle Isle Honey Habanero Bloody Mary outside of Sticky Rice Baltimore!


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Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero

  • 1 oz. Belle Isle Grapefruit

  • 2 oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit juice

  • One drop organic honey

Preparation:

One cocktail, Two ways

1. Coupe - In a mixing tin over ice combine all ingredients.  Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish will honeycomb inside of a grapefruit peel.

2. Highball - In a mixing tin over ice combine all ingredients.  Shake vigorously and strain into a highball glass over fresh ice.  Top with sparkling water. Garnish with honeycomb inside of a grapefruit peel.

 

Want to go behind more bars?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Chill Out with 4 Belle Isle Frozen Cocktails

CocktailsStephanie StantonComment
 Beat the heat with a frozen treat.  Photo by  Kate Magee . 

Beat the heat with a frozen treat.

Photo by Kate Magee

Let's face it: it's almost August, it's 90-plus degrees, and we're all over it. This late into a brutally hot summer, we're left with two choices: never leave the comfort of our air-conditioned homes or refuse to drink anything that's not frozen. We choose the latter! Luckily, we already have a few tried-and-true recipes up our sleeves that will bring your body temperature back to safe levels in no time. So grab your blender, and let's get chilly! 


Need more cocktail inspo?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Want to know more about Belle Isle?

Behind the Bar: Brendan Ambrose // Firefly

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
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When you're in the bar business for nearly three decades, you naturally learn a thing or two. One wouldn't assume those things would include urban gardening. For Brendan Ambrose, Lead Bartender at Firefly at the Kimpton Hotel Madera in Washington, D.C., mastering the craft of bartending means more than mixing spirits. He grows all the herbs, flowers, and vegetables used in Firefly's cocktails (in the form of everything from garnishes to bitters) on the building's roof. How's that for #supportlocal? We recently spoke with Brendan about his bartending career, his favorite drinks, and bringing on the "rooftop-to-glass" revolution. Plus, he shared the recipe for his delicious and ambitious Belle Isle cocktail, Trench Town Melody


TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I'm Brendan Ambrose, Lead Bartender at Firefly in Washington, D.C. I’ve been bartending for 27 years, and the past three years have been behind the bar at Firefly.

What first got you behind the bar?

I got a job waiting tables at an Irish bar. It was my first year of college, and I was living with my parents. My father asked me what I was going to do with my life, and I told him I was going to drop out of college and be a bartender. I pursued a career in hospitality and have been going strong for almost 30 years.

Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

1) Stay humble, not arrogant.

2) Control your bar; don’t let your bar control you.  

3) Continue to be a sponge and keep learning everything you can, because what’s trending today will be trending again in the future.

 

Favorite drink made by someone else?

My fiancée is also a bartender. Her cocktails are amazing, but there is nothing like coming home after a long shift and being welcomed with two pours of neat Filibuster bourbon.

 

Favorite drink that you make?

I have a drink on Firefly’s menu called “Vine and Fig Tree.”  It’s Woodford Reserve that has been slow-smoked in a smoker, house-made Malbec syrup, and a black walnut and fig cordial. I smoke the glass and garnish with blood orange zest and a flaming rosemary sprig.

 

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Water out of a garden hose.

 

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Fresh ginger. From dehydrated garnishes to syrups, it can be used in so many different ways. When a cocktail build is missing that one key factor, ginger will very often bring it all together without bullying the other flavors.

 

What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

I love having the freedom to shape my own program, collaborate with chefs and bartenders, and share my craft.  Firefly is committed to sustainability, supporting local farmers, and upcycling. I apply these same standards to the bar program. For example, I have a garden on the roof that has evolved from four boxes to 26 raised boxes. These 5 x 5 ft. boxes are made with pallets from restaurant deliveries. The composted soil comes from guests’ food scraps. In the summer, I grow 40% of the vegetables for the kitchen and 100% of the herbs, vegetables, and flower garnishes for the cocktail menu. I like to joke with my guests and say, “forget farm-to-table, I’m growing your cocktail rooftop-to-glass!”

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

Bar Rouge on 16th Street in Washington, D.C. Great bar staff and bourbon selection.

 

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

Today’s cocktail culture is very different compared to when I first started bartending. The days of “when in doubt, make it red” are over! Guests are home-bartending, studying the craft, and doing their homework. You have to know what you are talking about or risk being called out. I have seen this happen on several occasions to younger bartenders.

 

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

I always treat people the way I would want to be treated. That said, respect is important and a two-way street.

 

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

Warm and straight from the bottle.


 

Trench Town Melody

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Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. Belle Isle Honey-Habanero
  • 2 oz. garden lavender-bergamot cordial*  
  • 1 ½ oz. garden Thai basil-infused lime juice**
  • ½ egg white
  • Garden chamomile
  • Garden rosemary and flower garnishes

Directions:

Combine Belle Isle Honey Habanero, lavender-bergamot cordial, and Thai basil-infused lime juice in a bar tin. Add egg white and dry shake for 45-60 seconds. Add ice and shake again for another 30 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube and sprinkle dehydrated chamomile on top. Torch using Green Chartreuse spray and butane torch. Garnish with garden fresh rosemary sprigs and edible flowers.

**Thai Basil-infused lime juice

Ingredients:

  • 1 qt. freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
  • 1 qt. freshly cut Thai basil chopped
  • ½ qt. sugar
  • ½ qt. water

 

Directions:

In a large pot, bring sugar and water to a boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and add fresh lime or lemon juice and chopped Thai basil. Stir for 10 minutes to infuse all ingredients. Triple strain and let cool. Bottle, label, and date.

*Lavender-Bergamot cordial

Ingredients:

  • 1 qt. sugar
  • 1 qt. water
  •  6 bergamot oranges, freshly squeezed and triple strained to remove pulp
  •  ½ lb. freshly cut lavender
  • ½ qt. vodka of your choice

 Directions:

In a large pot, bring sugar and water to a boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and add fresh lavender and bergamot juice.  Stir for 10 minutes to infuse all ingredients. Triple strain and let cool.  Add the vodka, label, and date.

 

Recipe by Brendan Ambrose.

Photos by Joey Wharton.

 

Want more cocktail ideas?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Want to learn more about us?

Behind the Bar: Melanie Frank // Oak Steakhouse

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
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Located in an old bank building in the heart of Charleston, Oak Steakhouse is as timeless as historic Broad Street itself. Bringing a classic New York steakhouse vibe to the southern city, it's no surprise that beef is the real star here. With the help of Bar Manager Melanie Frank, the cocktail menu holds court with the tartare and prime rib. We recently chatted with Melanie about Charleston's bustling dining scene, her bartending theories, and her favorite places to drink. She also shared with us her recipe for the dangerously delicious Catalina 'Shine Mixer

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I'm Melanie Frank, Bar Manager at Oak Steakhouse in Charleston. I’ve been at Oak for seven years and have been bartending for about 11 years overall.

What first got you behind the bar?

When I was in college, I needed a summer job. I went out looking and got my first bartending job at a sports bar.

Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

Make it fun. You have to remember you’re basically on stage every night, so if you can have fun while working then it’s not really work.

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Favorite drink made by someone else?

I’m the weird bartender that doesn’t really like most liquors and spirits. I’m a red wine or champagne girl all the way.

Favorite drink that you make?

I like making anything I can make look pretty. Aesthetics go along way. If the customer thinks it looks pretty, it’s already going to taste better because their eyes have seen it first.

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Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Tequila. I love good tequila. Sipping or shooting or in a cocktail, you can enjoy it and not have a bad sugar headache the next day.

 

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

I’m not sure if ice is a credible answer here (editor's note: it is!), but no one wants a hot drink unless it’s a hot toddy. If I can’t use that, then I would choose citrus because it can drastically change any drink or spirit.

 

What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

The customers and regulars. I never have a dull night. We have a big local following, and a lot of them have become like family. I really enjoy getting to know people and being part of their lives. I’d say I know 50% or more of my bar most nights. We always joke that’s it’s a "Cheers" bar, but we’re not far from it. I even have some guests that have let me stay at their vacation homes or buy me Christmas gifts. It really is more like an extended family rather than work.

 

What makes your bar unique?

Our building used to be a bank, and it’s about 200 years old. We have a lot of original flooring and structure to it, including the bank vault. It just makes for a very comfortable and intimate place that people love coming to because they feel welcomed just like at home.

 

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

After work? Somewhere quiet where I can get a nice glass of wine. If I’m not working, I really enjoy rooftop bars and outdoor patios.

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

I think Charleston is booming in the food and beverage industry. Years ago, you were hard pressed to find a good bartending job. Now the demand is so high you can go almost anywhere and get hired. I think we have amazing restaurants and bars with some really talented bartenders. You would be hard pressed to go anywhere in the city without a craft cocktail list.

 

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

Always smile and be pleasant. There is a lot more to bartending than just making drinks. People are out because they want to have a good time or experience, and you’re there to make that happen. People will forget about the food or the drink you made, but they don’t forget how you made them feel. It could be their one night out a year, so if I can make their night more memorable then I’ve done my job.

 

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

I like the regular moonshine with just a little pickle juice or brine. I don’t like olives, and dirty martinis look so good. So I pickle mine, and it’s delicious.

 


Catalina Shine Mixer

 

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Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero

  • 1 oz. ginger molasses

  • ½ oz. lemon juice

  • few drops of ginger bitters

  • Top with champagne

  • Garnish: lemon cranberry habanero lollipop (created by Dress the Drink)

Preparation:

Combine the first three ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Pour champagne on top of mixture in the martini glass and then add a a few drops of ginger bitters. Garnish with the lollipop.

 

Recipe by Melanie Frank. 

All photos by Kate Magee.

Still Thirsty?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Want to get to know us better?

Four for the Fourth: Our Favorite Independence Day Cocktails

CocktailsStephanie StantonComment
 Let freedom ring.  (Photo by   Kate Magee  )

Let freedom ring.

(Photo by Kate Magee)

The Fourth of July may mean cookouts, hotdogs, and pool parties, but that doesn't mean you have to get stuck drinking cheap beer and lukewarm white wine. In the spirit of America's original spirit, we here at Belle Isle Moonshine want to help you get properly patriotic this Independence Day. Whether you're headed to the beach or your backyard, break free from your cocktail slump with these four 'shiny recipes that are sure to please any independent woman (or man). Happy Fourth, everyone!

Photos by Joey Wharton.

Want more cocktail inspo?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Want to learn more about us?

Charleston Launch Party // June 18, 2018

Stephanie StantonComment

We're coming for you, Charleston! Huge thanks to everyone who made our Charleston launch party unforgettable: The Macintosh, Miguel of Holy City Handcraft, Cannonborough Craft Sodas, Golden Word, Erica of Eating with EricaCocktail Bandits, and everyone else who came out to support and learn more about Belle Isle.  We appreciate you all so much! Cheers, South Carolina!

All photos by Current Visuals


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Behind the Bar: Vinnie Dugan // Seven Lamps

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
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In the stylish Atlanta neighborhood of Buckhead, it can be difficult for a restaurant to stand out from the pack. Seven Lamps manages to do just that, with outstanding food, a killer atmosphere, and a cocktail menu to match.  We chatted with Vinnie Dugan, the restaurant's Beverage Director, about his inadvertent start in the industry, his hospitality widsom, and cereal-inspired cocktails (don't knock it 'til you try it). He'll also share the recipe for his spicy Honey Habanero cocktail - The Irrational


TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

My name is Vinnie Dugan, and I’m the Beverage Director at Seven Lamps in Buckhead. I’ve been bartending for 13 years now, with the last two of them at Seven Lamps.

What first got you behind the bar?

I got pulled into the restaurant industry by my brother when I was 18. He always talked about how great the money was and how high-paced it was. Once I started in the industry, I kind of fell into bartending by accident. I was working at the Woodruff Arts Center doing event bartending, and the bartender quit at the restaurant (Twelve Eighty) so they asked me to come work.

Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

I would suggest finding someone to study under and learn everything you can from them.  Try not to forget who you are making drinks for, and don’t be scared of making something that tastes bad. I still make things that I don’t like all the time.

Favorite drink made by someone else?

I don’t have a specific drink so much as a specific person.  Brent Hesse from Deep End is someone who I respect, and I think we have similar tastes. I always love tasting his stuff and seeing what he is doing.

Favorite drink that you make?

I’m a huge garbage person, so I love cocktails that remind me of my childhood and growing up poor in the south.  We currently have a cocktail made with Cocoa Puffs, milk, bourbon, cognac and chicory liquor called the Breakfast of Champions.  I love the way it tastes, and it immediately transports me to my childhood. It’s clever and light-hearted. I try not to take myself too seriously, and I like to think my cocktails reflect that attitude.

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Diet Mountain Dew is the single greatest soda ever made. I love the stuff.

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If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Sugar would probably be the one ingredient that I’d use for the rest of my life.  Sugar is such a vital part of what I do behind the bar. There’s so many different types, so many different uses, so many different flavors.  Sugar is a flavor enhancer in that when used correctly, it enhances the flavor of the other ingredients in the cocktail.

What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

I really am blessed that I work where I do.  I have the creative freedom to pursue whatever I see fit for our beverage program.  I work under chefs Conor O’Reilly and Drew Van Leuvan, two of the most talented and creative minds in the city who are always willing to help me with ideas and techniques.  I have a truly amazing group of guests who come in just to see what I’m up to with new drinks and ideas. To pinpoint one thing that is my favorite about where I work would really be impossible.

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Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

Deep End in Atlanta is probably my favorite spot. The tacos are great and he always has cool drinks on the menu.

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

Atlanta’s cocktail culture has come so far in the past five years, and so many places have great cocktail programs.  Tons of new bars are popping up all over the place with really great ideas and cocktails.

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

My golden rule for bar etiquette is don’t be an asshole - and that rule applies to bartenders and guests.

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

My favorite way to drink Belle Isle is in a slushie - they work so well in our machine.


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**Spicy Syrup

Take two quarts of simple syrup and place in a saucepan over low heat, gently simmer 6 habanero peppers and 4 serrano peppers until wilted.  Strain the mixture and add 5 grams of habanero powder.

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero
  • ½ oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. ruby red grapefruit juice
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • ½ oz. spicy syrup **
  • 1 mint sprig torn
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Preparation:

Shake and double strain into a coupe and garnish with a slapped mint leaf.

Recipe by Vinnie Dugan.

All photos by Kate Magee


Need more cocktail inspo?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Wanna Learn More About Us?

Stirred, Shaken, and 'Shiny: Our 5 Favorite Martinis

CocktailsStephanie StantonComment
 Belle Isle 100 Proof makes the king of all martinis. Photo by  Joey Wharton . 

Belle Isle 100 Proof makes the king of all martinis. Photo by Joey Wharton

The martini: shockingly simple, yet surprisingly versatile. While it's usually comprised of only one or two ingredients, one small tweak of proportions, switch of garnishes, or swap of spirit can change the drink completely. Traditional martinis are made with either vodka or gin, but we here at Belle Isle think that our moonshine makes the perfect iteration of the classic cocktail. We've known (and loved) lot of great Belle Isle martinis over the years, but here's are some of our favorites. Happy National Martini Day! 

Still thirsty?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Want to learn more about us?

The Field Guide: Forest Hill, Richmond

The Field GuideStephanie StantonComment

Every neighborhood has its own unique landscape, and the Belle Isle Moonshine team wants to help you navigate each of them. In our Field Guide series, we're diving a little deeper into some of our favorite neighborhoods and showcasing a few of the businesses that help to make them unique with the help of some local influencers.

Our host in Richmond will be Shanna Battle, thrifting-maven and Content Creator-in-Chief of the style blog me and Minnie. With Shanna's help, we'll explore a few of Richmond's most notable 'hoods and the stores, bars, and restaurants that make them tick. Next up: Forest Hill

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Saturdays were always errand days in the Battle household. My mother would drag us kids from home to the Richmond Public Library, local bookstores, and on some Saturdays, it was off to the dreaded antique shops around town. Antiquing was never fun for kids aged six, eight, and nine. We would drag our feet slowly behind her, whining about our overwhelming boredom and not so quietly praying for release from the torture we had to endure. Of course, the louder we complained the longer she stayed!

I’m not sure at what age it happened, but the antiquing became intriguing, and then exciting to me. Gone were the days when I would drag my feet behind her, wanting to leave. Instead, I would be at her heels, eager to show her something cool I’d found and listen to her tell me the story behind it. Before I enjoyed treasure hunting in a thrift store, I loved the hunt of an antique shop.

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Now on Saturdays, I gladly accompany my mommy to an antique store, and we can easily lose our day - and a bit of cash - in the process.  A must-visit on our Saturday antique adventures is Nest. Nestled in the middle Richmond’s Forest Hill neighborhood, I first introduced my mother to this cute, quaint little shop about three years ago when my son was a student at the elementary school directly across the street. Before you even walk into the shop, the porch is filled with vintage wheelbarrows, turn of the century dressers, and hand-crafted pottery.

After a browse outside, we turn our attention inside to the carefully curated treasures that span hundreds of years and tell a million stories. We first walk by a cart filled with vintage bar items. I’ve been carefully building my own bar cart at home, so I look to see if anything catches my eye. While I look, my mother makes her way over to a couch filled with handmade baby hats, dolls, and trinkets. She looks up and spots the most opulent chandeliers, religious pictures, and wall decor. It becomes almost sensory overload -- in a good way of course! Everywhere you turn, there are vintage goodies about, and you don’t know where to start looking.

As we make our way to the back of the shop, we stop and look over a few of the vintage housewares and then we make our way around the corner and find a “Blackmore” that caught our eyes. My mom looks over it, and as per usual, gives me a little history lesson about her right on the spot! On our way to the bathroom that’s peppered with old pictures and frames, she points out a wall of broaches (my weakness) and I must get a closer look to see if there’s one I need for my collection.

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We have a few more shops we want to visit, but we need a quick fill-up before our next adventure. We walk next door to Laura Lee’s, a cute little eatery that seems like it's three restaurants in one. We start off at the bar, where we meet Ben and strike up a conversation about bar carts! I typically con my mom into getting me lunch, but today I treated her to drinks - a Diamond Dancer and a Lady Freeze's Negroni. She’s not the biggest fan of cocktails, but Ben made her a drink she loved so much she’s thinking about making it at home with the bottle of Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit I got for my dad a few weeks ago.

Neither of us have been to Laura Lee’s and wanted to look around. We moved to the dining room area, finding a seat by a huge picture window that seemed to let in all the sunlight RVA has to offer. With a quick look around, we see the walls decorated with custom art, beautiful greenery, cute vintage-style booths accented by subtle industrial touches, blending the charm of the 1950’s and the minimalism of present day perfectly. We quickly scout an open door and take our adventure to an outdoor patio area that is mini botanical
garden right in the middle of the city. From a little table by a wall of flowers to a bench flanked by shrubbery, it's as if we entered another world. If you’ve ever been to any shop on Forest Hill Avenue, you know it can be a bit noisy. Back in the little garden, the noise of the city seems to halt, and for a second, you feel as if you have been transported to another place.

My mom looks at her watch, and it's time for our next antique adventure, so we take a final sip of our drinks and make our way back through the restaurant. As we make our way out  the door, we know we know we’ve stumbled upon a gem and vow to come back as the summer wears on.

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Post by Shanna Battle, founder of me and Minnie. Follow her on Instagram at @meeandminnie to get great thrifting, styling, and lifestyle tips!

All photos by Sandy Swagger Jones. She also has an awesome Instagram feed, which you should follow @sandyswaggerjones

Want to explore more of Richmond?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

WANNA HEAR MORE OF OUR STORY?