Albee Pedone of Charlottesville’s Oakhart Social has been tending bar in some form or fashion since he was 11 years old in Brooklyn, NY. His migration south has brought him to a bar that focuses on having fun as much as it does on creating fresh, locally sourced drinks and dinners. Today we talk to Albee about his favorite cocktails, what makes Oakhart unique and life behind the bar.
What’s the inspiration behind the name Oakhart?
We burn oak in our wood fired oven, the heart (hart) of our restaurant. The social part comes from our desire to be accessible to everyone. We want people to come and enjoy the fun with us, whether they just want to have a beer and pizza in a casual, unpretentious atmosphere without breaking the bank or whether they want to throw down and have it all. Either way, they’ll have a great time.
How is the bar and its cocktails unique?
The combination of a slushie machine, draft wine, beer engine, leg lamp, and bartenders rockin' a pretty tight sock game makes for unique conditions. Our continually changing cocktail menu is classically inspired, yet modernly crafted. We try to think of it like BASF – we didn't make the cocktail, we make the cocktail better.
How does the bar influence the food, and vice versa?
I am fortunate to be working alongside a brilliant and talented Chef, Tristan Wraight, so I generally take cues from the incredible dishes he creates and make drinks that hopefully match their caliber. That being said, we are one restaurant and ultimately influence and inspire each other in order to consistently delight and surprise our guests whether they come in for food, drinks, or both.
What has the evolution of the Charlottesville bar and restaurant scene been like recently and what has your role been?
As with most cities, Charlottesville has seen tremendous growth in farm-to-table restaurants and craft-cocktail driven bar programs, with a focus on local and sustainable products. While it's happening here, the pinnacle hasn't yet been reached, which makes it an exciting and fun ride to be a part of.
What do you drink when no one is looking?
Being a simple man, I usually tend to drink my spirits neat, however my guiltiest pleasure would have to be a White Russian, which, when in the mood for, I will drink whether anyone is looking or not!
What is your go-to cocktail?
This is very mood-determinate. When I want strong, I go Manhattan, when I want something a bit sweeter it's the Old Fashioned, and when I want a refreshing, crisp sipper, it's The Last Word.
What’s your favorite food & cocktail pairing at Oakhart Social?
No question – Hanger Steak and Smokey Rose all day! Other notable mentions, are Shaved Salad and Bramble On, and Pickled Shrimp and The Clever Comeback.
Images by Alex Kreher
- 1 oz. Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit
- 1 oz. Linie Aquavit
- 1 oz. Drambuie
- 1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
Combine ingredients in a mixer with ice, shake, and strain into a martini glass.