Belle Isle Moonshine

Replace your vodka with something better.

Beach Bars

Behind the Bar: Jackie Haynes // Bay Local

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
All photos by   Joey Wharton  .

All photos by Joey Wharton.

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.

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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.


bloody bay

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Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero

  • 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

Preparation:

Shake lightly and pour into Old Bay-rimmed pint glass.

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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: 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!