Belle Isle Moonshine

Replace your vodka with something better.

Behind the Bar: Kelsey Ibarrientos / Bellytimber

Richmond, Conversation, CocktailsBICS Admin

Since 2010 Bellytimber has held down the corner of Main and Plum serving up brick-oven pizzas, amazing, virtually irresistible wings, and a wide range of other tasty menu items that emphasize local ingredients and big flavors. Famous for its Mug Club and long-running trivia nights, Bellytimber is also a place you can catch a DJ set most Friday and Saturday nights to dance off some of that pizza. And we haven’t even gotten to their regularly rotating roster of craft beers and, under the guidance of Kelsey Ibarrientos and her team, a newly revamped cocktail program. 

How long have you been bartending?
I've been bartending for a little over four years, so I’m still a relative newbie, but you have to learn quickly in this business.

How did you get into it?
I've worked in the hospitality industry since my first job and have also always been into cooking and creating. I started as a barista at a small coffee shop when I was 15, which I absolutely loved. I picked up my first restaurant job at 17 as a hostess, then started serving the second I turned 18.

I worked through college as a server, then bar back, and as soon as I turned 21, I convinced one of my employers to give me a chance behind the bar. It was a really natural progression to bartending from my past experiences.

What’s your favorite classic cocktail?
I’m a sucker for champagne, so French 75s are right up my alley.

What’s your favorite part about working at Bellytimber?
I’ve worked at Bellytimber for a little over 4 years and it’s really become a second home for me. I love the warmth of the decor and love the people here even more. It’s a blessing to be able to walk in and have regulars that are genuinely interested in how you’re doing and a staff that equally cares about each other. It’s approachable and malleable, being both the background for a nice candlelit dinner with family and friends or a fun-fueled night on the town.

What makes the bar unique?
I think Bellytimber is a great big mixing bowl. We serve everyone from families and young professionals to starving artists and college students. 

The building itself has a lot of history, previously being The Border Chophouse and the Texas Wisconsin, so it’s always fun to have guests come in and reminisce about the times they'd spent here.

Cocktail you hope people ask for?
Any of our featured cocktails of the week. We try to do something fun and new each week and for a lot of our clientele, it means stepping out of their comfort zone and trying something new. I like to think that we make the world of craft cocktails extremely approachable for those who have no idea where to start.

Favorite cocktail to sip on when no one is looking?
I love frozen Pina Coladas. Nothing’s better to me than coconut and cream.

Favorite bartender in town?
Marithe Milburn. Not only does she make great drinks, but she’s extremely personable and friendly. I was lucky enough to meet her and she’s been a mentor of sorts for me. Really, though, anyone who can make me laugh and can make an enjoyable cocktail gets an A+ in my book. A smile goes a long way with me.

Favorite menu item and cocktail pairing?
Any of our pizzas or wings with a draft beer. Or our Ahi Cucumber Sandwich with a Moscow Mule. Yum.

Can you share a Belle Isle creation with us? What inspired it?
We’ve had a lot of fun using Belle Isle in our featured cocktails. One of the favorites among them was The Basil on Belle Isle, a light and refreshing drink that reminds me of spring and summer days at the river.

The Basil on Belle Isle


  • 1.5 oz. Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit
  • .25 oz. Simple Syrup
  • 1 oz. Fresh Grapefruit Juice
  • 2 Basil Leaves

Muddle basil and simple syrup in the bottom of a rocks glass. Add Belle Isle Ruby Red, Ice, Top with fresh grapefruit juice. Garnish with a lemon.

Recipe by Kelsey Ibarrientos