Although Bay Local is located along busy Laskin Road, just a few blocks from Virginia Beach’s tourist-laden oceanfront, its warm, eclectic interior and smiling staff make it a welcoming oasis for tourists and beach vistors alike. The cozy restaurant caters to a loyal breakfast and lunch crowd during the week, only opening its doors for dinner service Thursday through Saturday. While you might think such a brunch-centric establishment wouldn’t attract a huge bar crowd, Bar Manager Jackie Haynes welcomes this mix of hungry regulars and beach tourists alike with a warm smile and a strong bloody mary.
We recently chatted with Jackie about getting her start behind the bar, the joys of a chilled tequila shot, and the importance of getting to know your bar guests. Jackie also shared her the recipe (although she kept the housemade mix a secret!) for Bay Local’s Bloody Bay–a Honey Habanero bloody mary that’s sure to make your boozy brunch a little spicier..
First thing’s first, who are you?
My name is Jackie, and I’m bar manager at Bay Local on Laskin Road. I’ve been the bar manager here for almost two years now.
How long have you been bartending?
I just celebrated my birthday last week, which took me up one, so I’ve officially been bartending for 10 years now.
What first got you behind the bar?
I was originally a Hooters girl, and my managers there saw my interactions with customers and said, “as soon as you turn 21, we’re throwing you behind the bar.” I went out of town for my 21st birthday, and, I kid you not, the day I got back I was in bar training.
Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?
Fake it ‘til you make it. Nobody knows that you’re doing anything wrong back there except you. If you feel confused or if you’re going down in the weeds, just remember it’s not going to last all night. You’ll get out of it, and you’ll get by.
Favorite drink made by someone else?
I’m totally a beer and shot girl when I go out. I did go to this bar in Fort Lauderdale called The Rooftop, and I thought it was super cool that they had a “Make Your Own Old Fashioned” menu. You pick your whiskey, pick your bitters, then pick if you wanted it smoked or unsmoked at the end. I had never seen that anywhere before.
Favorite drink that you make?
I make a really good extra-dirty martini. For some reason, people dig it when I make it.
Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?
Every time I go out, it’s a chilled shot of blanco tequila with a big, fat lime.
If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
We make a homemade lavender sour mix here, and I’ve made a handful of cocktails with that. I know it’s probably not going into every drink, but it’s really good. I’d like to see it in every cocktail it can go into.
What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?
It’s just the vibe. It’s such a small place, but we get a ton of tourists in here–plus the locals love us, too. It’s a really good mix of people, and I think that’s what I like most about it here.
Where do you like to stop in for a drink?
I live, like, a 30-minute drive from here, so I never get to do the “stop for a drink after work” thing. The place we go to the most down here after a crazy Sunday brunch is Shuckers by the Ocean Front. It’s a little local bar. I’ll run in there with the girls and drink a beer or whatever, then I’m on the way.
What makes Virginia Beach’s food & drink scene unique?
There are so many options for local seafood. Basically, any restaurant you walk into is serving you local food.
Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.
I like to tell the bartenders to always interact with the guests when they’re sitting at your bar. When somebody sits at a bar, they’re expecting interaction. They know they’re going to have one-on-one time with the bartender, so don’t ever just take a food and drink order then leave. Get to know your customers, because that what creates your regulars and puts more money in your pocket.
What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?
I have truly become obsessed with the Belle Isle Blood Orange. I’ve started to put it in my crushes, and I’ll also chill some at home and sip on it.
4 oz. top-secret housemade Bay Local bloody mary mix (or your mix of choice)
garnish with bacon strips, olive, pepperoncini, gherkin pickle, and housemade spicy pickled green bean
Shake lightly and pour into Old Bay-rimmed pint glass.
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.