Belle Isle Moonshine

Replace your vodka with something better.

What's Your 'Shine? // Virgo

What's Your 'Shine?Stephanie StantonComment
Sometimes Virgos need to be reminded to have some fun.   Photos by  Joey Wharton .

Sometimes Virgos need to be reminded to have some fun.

Photos by Joey Wharton.

Let the stars and Belle Isle Moonshine be your guides to cosmic cocktailling. Each month, our resident amateur astrologer (and Director of Marketing) Brandon Day gives you the transcendental tea based on your zodiac sign. We’ll also share a Sun sign-inspired cocktail recipe that will get you through your birthday season in one piece–no matter what retrogrades come your way.


virgo

The virgin // august 23 - september 22

“Hey Virgos - how are you feeling? As we move past the carefree days of summer, the transition into Virgo season revitalizes us in a new way. New opportunities are arising, and we rely on the power of Virgo to lead us to success. During this period, Mercury also transitions into Virgo, making our thoughts and style of communication much more analytical and detail-oriented. Most of the time, that’s a good thing. However, Virgos tend to get lost in the sauce, so try to keep some perspective and not get wound up so tight. Drink a smoothie. Eat a bagel. Live a little!

Virgo season also brings with it the end of Saturn retrograde, meaning an end to a period of karmic retribution. Although we’re all still stuck inside a simulation (obviously), things will start to feel back on track as the planet that rules boundaries, responsibilities, and authority takes its rightful seat in the sky. You need to trust that the universe will fall back into place. Refocus your energy and time towards nurturing yourself and your loved ones. They’ve both been missing you.”


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Brandon Day is the Director of Marketing at Belle Isle Moonshine. He has no actual astrology credentials, but he checks his Co-Star religiously. As a general rule, you probably shouldn’t listen to his advice–except about eating bagels.




run the world

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Ingredients:

 

Preparation:

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Shake and double-strain into a hurricane glass over fresh ice–or a cored pineapple if you’re feelin’ fancy!





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.

Replace Your Vodka With These Five 'Shiny Substitutions

CocktailsStephanie StantonComment
Vodka doesn’t stand a chance.

Vodka doesn’t stand a chance.

You’ve probably heard us tell you (perhaps sometimes a little too forcefully) to replace your vodka with Belle Isle Moonshine–but what does that actually mean? When we talk to customers at events or on Instagram, the top question we get is, “What exactly is moonshine?” We’ve met a lot of people who are initially hesitant to try our spirit, as it’s easy to envision a burly, bearded man offering up mason jars full of peach-flavored rocket fuel. Despite its cultural mythology, moonshine is actually just an un-aged corn spirit that’s distilled to a lower alcohol point than vodka or whiskey. While vodka and moonshine end up around the same 40% ABV mark, our spirit requires less added water to cut the alcohol content down. The result? Less burn, more flavor, and a cleaner finish.

Now that you have some base-level ‘shine knowledge, we’ll move on to another big question we get asked: “How do I use this stuff?” While we totally condone getting as creative as possible with your cocktail experiments, the key to creating a delicious moonshine drink is as simple as just replacing your vodka. Whether your go-to drink is a martini or a mule, here are five of our favorite recipes that show just how easy it is to swap ‘shine in your favorite vodka cocktails.


Martini

Whether you like it dirty or with a twist, a moonshine martini is always a good idea.

Whether you like it dirty or with a twist, a moonshine martini is always a good idea.

A classic martini is the perfect cocktail to showcase the differences between our spirit and a traditional vodka. Made up of only two or three ingredients, the martini can’t mask vodka’s burn. Our OG Black Label moonshine makes a killer martini, but try subbing 100 Proof for a little extra oomph!

Black Label Martini

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with olives, lemon twist, or any other garnish you'd like. Feel free to customize this recipe to make your ideal martini!


MOSCOW MULE

One mule to rule them all.

One mule to rule them all.

It’s no secret that a mule is one of our favorite drinks. Instead of pairing vodka with ginger beer, try your next mule with the sweet heat of our Honey Habanero ‘shine.

Spicy Mule

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a glass over ice, and garnish with a lime wedge


cosmopolitan

Your old standby gets a citrusy update.

Your old standby gets a citrusy update.

Ditch your old vodka-crans for something a little more elevated. Our bright, bold Blood Orange moonshine is a perfect spirit to revamp that tired Cosmopolitan.

BLOOD ORANGE COSMO

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. cranberry juice

  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice

Preparation:

Add all ingredients to a mixing tin over ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a lime twist, or a dehydrated blood orange.


vodka soda

‘Shine + soda = as simple and tasty as you can get.

‘Shine + soda = as simple and tasty as you can get.

Our moonshine is so smooth and flavorful it shines (no pun intended) on its own or with the simple fizz of some soda water. While all of our products are great with soda, we’re partial to this version with Ruby Red Grapefruit.

ruby Spritz

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a glass over ice.


Bloody Mary

Our Spicy Moonshine Mary is the cure for whatever ails you.

Our Spicy Moonshine Mary is the cure for whatever ails you.

What makes your favorite hangover-relieving brunch drink even better? A jolt of sweet heat from our Honey Habanero moonshine, of course.

Spicy Moonshine Mary

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Add all ingredients to glass with ice, tumble back and forth in mixing tin a few times. Garnish with peppers, olives, lemon, celery, and whatever else strikes your fancy. Add a few extra drops of hot sauce if you're feeling truly spicy! 

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.

Behind the Bar: Mika Takahashi // High Note

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
All photos by   Andrew Thomas Lee   .

All photos by Andrew Thomas Lee.

Atlanta’s bustling bar scene is jam-packed with every type of watering hole one can imagine. From tiki bars to speakeasies to ritzy steakhouses, there’s no shortage of talented bartenders shaking up amazing cocktails in the ATL. This amount of stiff competition can make standing out in the crowd a tough task.

High Note Rooftop Bar, along with its bubbly bartender Mika Takahashi, stands above its peers–both literally and metaphorically. Located atop the trendy Moxy Hotel in Midtown Atlanta, High Note’s quirky interior and complex-yet-accessible cocktails make the cozy rooftop bar the perfect spot to enjoy Happy Hour high above the busy city streets.

We recently chatted with Mika about getting her foot in the industry’s door, the beauty of a stiff whisky cocktail, and the importance of service with a smile. Mika also shared the recipe for her mind-blowing Blood Orange cocktail, Revenge of Fortunato.


First thing’s first, who are you?

My name is Mika, and I’m a bartender at High Note Rooftop Bar. 


How long have you been bartending?

I’ve been bartending for about eight years now.


What first got you behind the bar?

I got a bartending school brochure, like, 10 years ago. I went for a week, and it was kind of fun. I’d always been in the industry, but I never thought of myself as being a bartender, so that class kind of changed everything. 


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

Be comfortable with jiggers. Oftentimes people think that using jiggers is kind of old school, but precise measurements to bartenders are really important. 

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Favorite drink made by someone else?

There’s a cocktail called Mudcrutch that was made by Jacob, the beverage manager here. It has a rye whiskey base, absinthe, banana liqueur, and Carpano vermouth. It was a very complex, tasty cocktail.


Favorite drink that you make?

I enjoy everything, but I like making Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, Vieux Carres–the classics. 

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Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

I have a guilty pleasure for–do you remember Tequila Rose? Yeah, I love it. It tastes like a strawberry Yoo-hoo. 


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

It would be absinthe, for sure. I like that anise smell of it, and I like the history of it. If you add one or two drops to a cocktail, it changes completely. 


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

Since it’s on a rooftop, it feels like you’re in the fresh air. I like the open feeling of it. Plus, I’m surrounded by great coworkers. It’s an awesome group.

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Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

Right now, we go across the street to Foxtrot after work. It’s a great bar. The bartenders are amazing, and they do a lot of classic cocktails. And Tiki Tango next door is amazing, too. 

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

I think now it’s evolving. More and more restaurants are opening every month or so. Prohibition used to be the style, then Tiki was back, and now it’s kind of more versatile. It’s not just one style. Hopefully it will just get better and better. 

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

I want to treat guests as I’d like to be treated. A warm welcome will melt the ice. 

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

I like the Blood Orange, but I love the Cold Brew!


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Ingredients:

Preparation:

Muddle one mint sprig in a shaker tin, then add all other ingredients except bitters to the tin with ice. Shake and strain into rocks glass. Pack with crushed ice, then top with a few dashes of Angostura bitters. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Recipe courtesy of Mika Takahashi at High Note in Atlanta.

Photos by Andrew Thomas Lee.

Want more Behind the Bar?


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.

What's Your 'Shine? // Leo

What's Your 'Shine?Stephanie StantonComment
Roar, y’all.   Photos by  Joey Wharton .

Roar, y’all.

Photos by Joey Wharton.

Let the stars and Belle Isle Moonshine be your guides to cosmic cocktailling. Each month, our resident amateur astrologer (and Director of Marketing) Brandon Day gives you the transcendental tea based on your zodiac sign. We’ll also share a Sun sign-inspired cocktail recipe that will get you through your birthday season in one piece–no matter what retrogrades come your way.


LEO

The Lion // July 23 - August 22

Hewwo, fellow Leos! This season is about experiencing every passion to the fullest extent. Prepare yourself to take advantage of any opportunities for growth that come your way. With Mercury entering Leo, we become better storytellers and persuasive speakers, making it an ideal time to put yourself out there. So go kill it in that job interview! Pop off at karaoke night! Try out stand-up for the first time! Make your presence known!

This Leo season, your purpose is to teach people to embrace their inner strangeness without fear of rejection. As you continue to manifest positive energies over the next month, keep in mind how you disperse that energy out to other people. Consider the force you are in someone else’s life. Are you a bolt of lightning - beautiful, but dangerous and fleeting? Or are you the Sun - a constant source of warmth and life? Choose wisely. Your actions are ephemeral, but your impact is eternal.


babypng.png




Brandon Day is the Director of Marketing at Belle Isle Moonshine. He has no actual astrology credentials, but he checks his Co-Star religiously. As a general rule, you probably shouldn’t listen to his advice–except about karaoke.




BICS-Zodiac-May2019-10.jpg

I Ain’t Lion

Ingredients:

 

Preparation:

Add all ingredients to a Collins glass over ice. Garnish with a lemon wheel.





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.

Cool Your Summer Down with These Five Frozen Drinks

CocktailsStephanie StantonComment
Make your vibe chill this summer–no matter how much you’re actually sweating.   All photos by  Joey Wharton.

Make your vibe chill this summer–no matter how much you’re actually sweating.

All photos by Joey Wharton.

In the wise words of Rob Thomas: “Man, it’s a hot one.” Now that it’s officially summer, things are getting pretty balmy here in Richmond. We like to think our everyday Go-To Drinks are pretty refreshing, but 90°+ weather calls for something extra chilly. We’re rounding up some of our new favorite frozen bevvies to help you beat those triple-digit temps and catch a decent buzz in the meantime. From a Honey Habanero-injected frosé to a frosty version of our Blood Orange Mule, let these tried-and-true chillers cool you down and turn you up.


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.

What's Your 'Shine? // Cancer

What's Your 'Shine?Stephanie StantonComment
The zodiac’s resident feeler can be spicier than you think.  Photos by  Joey Wharton .

The zodiac’s resident feeler can be spicier than you think.

Photos by Joey Wharton.

Let the stars and Belle Isle Moonshine be your guides to cosmic cocktailing. Each month, our resident amateur astrologer (and Director of Marketing) Brandon Day gives you the transcendental tea based on your zodiac sign. We’ll also share a Sun sign-inspired cocktail recipe that will get you through your birthday season in one piece–no matter what retrogrades come your way.


cancer

The Crab // June 21 - July 20

“Welcome home, sweet Cancers. This is your season, and we need you to embrace the best parts of it so we can learn from your behavior. We really do take what you say to heart, even if we don’t always act on it. To celebrate the next year of your life, set a grand goal for yourself: learn a new language, set a date to fist fight your arch nemesis, or maybe shoot a short indie documentary on the local Parks and Recreation system in your town. Don’t worry about the details for now. You’ll figure it out later.

At the beginning of July we see Venus entering Cancer, meaning your sensitivity will be through the roof (as if it wasn’t maxed out already). You’ve been warned! Prepare yourself for the ups and downs ahead of you and, despite the turmoil, remember to still let yourself love with warmth and dedication. Speaking of dedication, go stream Carly Rae Jepsen’s latest album Dedicated, now available on iTunes, Spotify, and wherever else you listen to music. You’ll want to have it on hand for those 2 AM mental breakdowns. Remember - it’s your party and you can cry if you want to. Just don’t expect us all to bawl with you.”


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Brandon Day is the Director of Marketing at Belle Isle Moonshine. He has no actual astrology credentials. As a general rule, you probably shouldn’t listen to his advice–except about Carly Rae Jepsen.




harbor Highball

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Ingredients:

  • ½ oz. lime juice

  • 4 oz. Topo Chico

  • Old Bay rim


Preparation:

Add all ingredients to an Old Bay-rimmed Collins glass with ice.




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.

Party Like a Pro with Big Batch Cocktails

CocktailsStephanie StantonComment
Give your Memorial Day weekend more “Cheers!” with less blood, sweat, and tears.  Photos by  Joey Wharton .

Give your Memorial Day weekend more “Cheers!” with less blood, sweat, and tears.

Photos by Joey Wharton.

It’s no secret that the Belle Isle Moonshine crew loves a good party. One way to harsh our summertime party vibes? Getting stuck playing bartender all day. The solution? Make those cocktails ahead of time! If you’ve ever seen us slinging drinks at an event, you know we have some amazingly simple big batch cocktails in our arsenal. Just in time for your MDW party, we’re debuting our favorite Go-To Drinks! They’re all only three ingredients, and you can pick up everything you need at your local grocery store. The best part? Each drink on our new Go-To Drinks page includes easy batching instructions, leaving your guests happily satiated with minimal effort from you.

Never made a big batch cocktail before? Not even sure what it means? Don’t fret, friends! Using one of our favorite old standbys, the Pineapple Express, as an example, we’ll take you through the whole process step-by-step.

cheers, y’all!


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.

What's Your 'Shine? // Gemini

What's Your 'Shine?Stephanie StantonComment
Gemini1horizontal.jpg

Let the stars and Belle Isle Moonshine be your guides to cosmic cocktailing. Each month, our resident amateur astrologer (and Director of Marketing) Brandon Day gives you the transcendental tea based on your zodiac sign. We’ll also share a Sun sign-inspired cocktail recipe that will get you through your birthday season in one piece–no matter what retrogrades come your way.


GEMINI

The Twins // May 21 - June 20

“Hi hi, Gemini! Your sign has been misunderstood and stigmatized in the past, but this year your season brings a much-needed boost of energy. We kick off Gemini season in an especially social way as Mercury enters Gemini. I suggest going out with your good Judys and ordering a bunch of small plates to share. Then order a round of shooters, because why not? They are funny.

As we move into June, you’ll feel the need for a sudden change. With Mercury entering Cancer during this time, you will also discover new revelations about what you need as an individual. Use this new information to make impactful changes in your life, but beware getting caught up in your emotions. It’s never as dramatic as you’re making it out to be–trust me. When Venus enters Gemini on June 8th, your curious nature will ascend to new heights in your romantic and social life. Embrace this dynamic, fun-loving side of yourself–we love when you act lowkey crazy! Just remember not to sacrifice connecting on an emotional level in the process. No one likes a flaky, fickle friend.

Gemini season ends with Neptune entering retrograde, a movement defined by illumination of dark, buried truths from our past. If it sounds scary, that’s because it is. However, a Neptune Retrograde is the perfect time for some serious spiritual development. Dig deep and figure out what you truly believe in, what lies at the core of your being. Solo meditation, journaling, and reflection will be the tools you can cling to as you face your fears. You will come out of Gemini season better than you have ever been before, and you’ll spark a fire in those around you to do the same. So thanks for kicking the rest of us into high gear. Bye bye, Gemini!”


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Brandon Day is the Director of Marketing at Belle Isle Moonshine. He has no actual astrology credentials. As a general rule, you probably shouldn’t listen to his advice–except about shooters.




good twin

Gemini1.jpg


Ingredients:

+ 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit

+ 1 ½ oz. Cynar

Preparation:

Add both ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a fresh rocks glass, either with ice or without.




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.

Behind the Bar: Nathaniel Hall // Swan Dive

Behind the BarStephanie Stanton1 Comment
All photos by    Alyssa Flood Photography   .

Walking into Swan Dive in Rochester is a joyfully jarring experience. One minute, you’re standing outside an unassuming building on bustling Alexander St. and the next you’re transported to an emerald green, retro Miami, Art Deco wonderland. A glance at the innovative cocktail list, the elevated-yet-cheeky pizza menu, or the expertly curated backbar will confirm one thing: the folks behind Swan Dive definitely know what they’re doing.

This isn’t an accident. An example of Rochester’s bubbling food and beverage scene: Swan Dive is one of six popular sister restaurants. The newest addition (the restaurant family’s new “baby brother”) is an upcoming Italian joint called Vern’s.

“Rochester’s food and beverage scene has exploded in last five years,” Swan Dive’s Bar Manager Nathaniel Hall says.

Hall has been Swan Dive’s bar manager for the establishment’s entire year-and-a-half lifespan. He credits a lot of Rochester’s buzz to the growing popularity of the Rochester Cocktail Revival, New York state’s only week-long cocktail festival. This year’s festival (June 3-9) will be Belle Isle’s first time as a BackBar sponsor. So, what should we expect?

“It’s a week of bedlam and revelry,” says Nathaniel of the festival. Needless to say, the Belle Isle crew is ready.

We recently chatted with Nathaniel about his barback beginnings, the beauty of the Last Word cocktail, and the proper way to ask for a drink at a bar (hint: it’s not by calling the bartender “hey!”) Nathaniel also whipped us up an Exclusive Gift, a stellar Honey Habanero cocktail created by fellow Swan Dive-r Patrick Stetzel.


First thing’s first, who are you?

I’m Nathaniel Hall, and I’m the bar manager here at Swan Dive in Rochester, New York.

How long have you been bartending?

I’ve been bartending for about five years and managing for two years. We’ve been open for just over a year, so Ive been the bar manager here since day one.

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What first got you behind the bar?

I was a barback at one of our sister restaurants, The Daily Refresher, which is two doors down from where we’re currently sitting. I moved up through the ranks pretty quickly there and then started bartending during slower shifts. One night they threw me to the wolves on a Saturday, and the rest is history.

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

Look at your shoes, and get new ones. You’re on your feet a lot, and your feet are gonna hurt, so get good shoes. Stay clean, stay positive, and stay cool in times of stress. There are going to be stressful moments, but just take 10% back. If you’re moving at 100% and you feel yourself start to get squirrelly or stressed out, take a deep breath, take 10% off of your current speed and just push through. Two o’clock is gonna happen no matter what.

Favorite drink made by someone else?

I like to go to Cure, which is in the Public Market here, and ask Donny to make me something with gin. Whatever he’s feeling that day is probably what I want.

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Favorite drink that you make?

My favorite cocktail is a Last Word, easily.

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

That’s a tough one. I would have to say a PBR and a shot of well whiskey from Lux in South Wedge. Just shitty whiskey and shittier beer.

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

Escubac, which is an herbal liqueur that’s very similar to Green Chartreuse. It’s not as intense, but it still has that herbal quality. You can use it for mezcal, tequila, gin, vodka. It’s very versatile. I like to use it as my bartender’s ketchup.

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

I think the versatility of the program. The amount of reach that we have with our staff, our spirits selection, our beer and wine selection–we have something for everyone here. If you look at our backbar, you know you’re going to get something delicious.


How do you go about creating cocktails for Swan Dive's menu?

We curate our menu based on what we think is cool. We don’t really pander as much as some places might or as we possibly should. For example, the first cocktail on our menu is the Cool Breeze. It’s vodka-based, but it also has sherry, a French peach liqueur, and a housemade ginger syrup. Not a ton of people really know what sherry is, so if we throw that in with recognizable ingredients like vodka, peach, and ginger, we’re introducing you to something new kind of slyly. For us, we just like to incorporate ingredients that we stand behind into flavor profiles that you wouldn’t normally expect.

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Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

If I’m in the mood for a small neighborhood haunt, I like to go to Joey’s on Main St. Two of my friends own that little bar. There’s about 12 seats, a dart board, and a pool table. It’s perfect. If I’m going to get a cocktail, I like to go to Cure, Ox and Stone, and Roux.

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What make Rochester's food & drink scene unique?

Rochester’s food and beverage scene has exploded in last five years. I would say the forerunner of that is Restaurant Good Luck, which I think everyone in this room would say is an amazing, amazing place. It’s been influential in every aspect: food, beverage, hospitality. Their director, Chuck Cerankosky, is the man who heads the Rochester Cocktail Revival. With his influence, it’s all sort of been a tributary that flooded Rochester. I like to say this town is, “big city flavors, small city feel.”



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

For bartenders and barbacks: greet customers with a smile, a menu, and water. For patrons: don’t tap your credit card, don’t wave your money at me, and my name isn’t “Hey!” If you’re polite, you’ll receive proper hospitality back.

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

When they first brought the Honey Habanero in, I introduced it to everybody who was in front of me, and we were just sipping it with ice. Maybe a little bit of water to open it up. I like spice, but I can’t really tolerate it that well. I’m kind of a baby–but I really enjoy it. I enjoy the chemical reaction that happens in your brain with a little spice. So the Honey Habanero is my favorite.


Exclusive Gift

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Ingredients:

Preparation:

Add all ingredients to a mixing tin with ice and shake. Double-strain over fresh ice and garnish with a lemon plank.

Recipe by Swan Dive’s Patrick Stetzel.

 

Want more Bartender pro-tips?


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.

What's Your 'Shine? // Taurus

What's Your 'Shine?Stephanie StantonComment
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Let the stars and Belle Isle Moonshine be your guides to cosmic cocktailing. Each month, our resident amateur astrologer (and Director of Marketing) Brandon Day gives you the transcendental tea based on your zodiac sign. We’ll also share a Sun sign-inspired cocktail recipe that will get you through your birthday season in one piece–no matter what retrogrades come your way.


TAURUS

The Bull // April 21 - May 21

“What’s popping, my Taurus children? We all know you are the steadfast sign, but hear me out. This season, change is a good thing. Start by reflecting on what you are chained to. Put a stop to those who try to manipulate you, and release your grasp on things you try too hard to control. Freedom from false fantasies will evoke new power within you. Harness the energy of Mercury entering Taurus in early May to do some major “adulting”. During this period, your common sense will feel heightened, making it the perfect time to balance a budget or organize your home.

As Venus enters Taurus, the sign’s ruling planet, sensual energy will pique and the desire for tangible fulfillment will be strong. Push yourself to enjoy pleasures that stimulate your corporeal senses, like spending time outside on a nice day or splurging on those items sitting in your Amazon cart. Just beware the darker side of Venus: possessiveness and objectification of the people you hold dearest. You don’t own other people, dude. Sorry ‘bout it!

We’ll see the end of Taurus season marked by a Full Moon in Scorpio. You’ll sense the urge to dive deep into your feelings, and it won’t be easy. Make a plan to engage in truly meaningful emotional exchanges, which will soothe the burns from all the rapid change you’ve been experiencing. Connect deeply with those who truly matter, and you will find the purification and redemption you’ve been needing. Also, avoid getting a surgery during the full moon. Not saying something bad will happen…but it might. Have fun, kiddos!”

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Brandon Day is the Director of Marketing at Belle Isle Moonshine. He has no actual astrology credentials. As a general rule, you probably shouldn’t listen to his advice–except about that Amazon cart.




MATADOR’S REVENGE

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Ingredients:

+ 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero

+ ½ oz. mezcal

+ 1 oz. pineapple juice

+ ¾ oz. fresh lime juice

+ ½ oz. agave

+ 2-3 sprigs cilantro

Preparation:

Add all ingredients to a mixing tin over ice. Shake vigorously and double-strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with cilantro sprig.




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.