Belle Isle Moonshine

Replace your vodka with something better.

Behind the Bar

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.

jackie2.jpg

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

BICS-BTB-BayLocal-24.jpg

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.

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.

Behind the Bar: Shane Morrison // Acacia

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
All photos by  Alyssa Allworth .

All photos by Alyssa Allworth.

You might miss Acacia if you weren’t paying attention. Located on Pittsburgh’s busy East Carson street, the cozy cocktail bar keeps a low profile with boarded-up windows and a small, nearly imperceptible sign. This hidden storefront may bring to mind an air of exclusivity or snobbery, much like the craze of fancy speakeasies that rose in popularity a few years back. Instead, Acacia manages to be welcoming and unpretentious while still serving some of the most best cocktails in the city.

Bar Manager Shane Morrison helps cultivate that approachable, “neighborhood haunt” atmosphere while creating cocktails that would impress any craft aficionado. With an expansive spirits selection (especially that mezcal shelf!), a variety of housemade potions and tinctures, warm welcomes, and a super intimate interior, Acacia takes all pretense out of the craft cocktail bar.

We recently spoke with Shane about his beginnings in the industry, his guilty pleasure drinks (hello, PBR Hard Coffee), and the burgeoning cocktail scene in Pittsburgh. He also shared two fantastic cocktail recipes using our Honey Habanero and 100 Proof moonshines.


First thing’s first, who are you?

My name is Shane Morrison, and I’m the bar manager at Acacia in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

How long have you been bartending?

I’ve been bartending for about 15 years.


What first got you behind the bar?

I liked the creativity aspect of it. I was serving at a place, and they offered me a job behind the bar. I had the opportunity to make more money–and money’s good–so I took the opportunity to get behind the bar and start making drinks.

11111.jpg
bitters1.jpg
pour1.jpg


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

Absolutely. Be a sponge, and learn as much as you can. Get in with someone good who really knows what they’re doing. Walk before you run, and before you walk, crawl. Don’t overextend yourself by trying to get too fancy with things. Understand the fundamentals, the basics, the classics, and why they’re done a certain way, and why they’ve been done that way for 150, 200 years.

Favorite drink made by someone else?

My buddy Sean Enright has a tiki-style drink on the menu at Spork . It’s called Galeophobia–it’s Maggie’s Farm 50/50 dark rum, which is a local distillery, a little orgeat, citrus blend, and a toasted macadamia liqueur. It’s just absolutely fantastic. He serves it in a big shark glass. It’s a lot of fun to drink, and it’s really well put together.

tables1.jpg

Favorite drink that you make?

That’s a loaded question. I think bartenders, in general, hate that question. People say all the time, “Make me what you drink.” Well, why would you want what I drink? My favorite drink is going to be the one that keeps you coming back. Whether it’s something rum-based, mezcal-based, moonshine-based, bourbon-based–I want you to have the experience. It’s not about me, behind the bar, what I drink. It’s more about what the guest wants at that particular time.


Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

I didn’t want to love it, but the PBR Hard Coffee is so delicious.

shelf1.jpg

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

It would have to be mezcal. I love mezcal. I love the diversity of it. The single village stuff and the boutique stuff–it’s all really unique, and it’s all really different. Every time I taste something new it gives me a new perspective on the spirit.

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

Honestly, the people who work here. I know that sounds cliché, but we have some really good people. We have a lot of fun here. The guests, definitely, as well. We have really great support from our regulars, as well as the local community.


What makes your bar unique?

I think it it’s approachable. We serve a high-end product in a comfortable atmosphere. We don’t compromise our standards, but we do it in a way that’s not pretentious.

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

It depends on the night. Wednesdays I’ll definitely go to Tiki Lounge and have a guilty pleasure piña colada. Hidden Harbor in Squirrel Hill–Max is doing some really amazing tiki stuff up there. That guy is super talented. I love going to Spork to see Sean. Lorelei is doing some really great work here. Cecil is absolutely fantastic there as well.

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

It’s definitely exploded over the last decade. It’s hard because Pittsburgh is a small market. I think some people are getting a little ahead of themselves. There’s only so many people to work. Again, it’s the “walk before you run” thing. But all in all, Pittsburgh is really doing some great work. There are some really talented people here. We have a tight-knit community, and everybody is really supportive of each other. I think that’s the best aspect of it.

exterior.jpg
wood2.jpg
exterior2.jpg

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

One thing I tell everyone here on staff is to greet the guest as soon as they come in the door. Say hi, and give them a warm greeting, because A) it makes them feel welcome and B) when you’re in the weeds and making eight or nine cocktails at the time, the fact that you’ve acknowledged the guest’s presence can buy you some time. They’ll be a little bit more patient with you that way.


What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

Coffee in my coffee. I also like the Honey Habanero, equal parts with some grapefruit and a pinch of salt. It’s like a spicy Salty Dog.


Zig-A-Zig Ah

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Add all ingredients to a shaker tin with ice. Roll (don’t strain) into a rocks glass and garnish with a mint sprig.




ZigAZag1.jpg

Steal My Moonshine

StealMyMoonshine.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Belle Isle 100 Proof

  • 1 oz. grapefruit juice

  • ½ oz. rosemary syrup

  • 3 drops homemade black pepper tincture**

  • 6 drops homemade charred rosemary tincture

Preparation:

Add all ingredients to a shaker tin with ice. Shake and double-strain into a coupe glass and garnish with 2 drops of charred rosemary tincture.


**Click here for tips on creating your own tinctures!

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.

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.

_Alyssa_Flood_Photography_BIM_Swan_Dive-8256.jpg

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.

_Alyssa_Flood_Photography_BIM_Swan_Dive-8178.jpg

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.

_Alyssa_Flood_Photography_BIM_Swan_Dive-8316.jpg


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.

_Alyssa_Flood_Photography_BIM_Swan_Dive-8268.jpg

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

_Alyssa_Flood_Photography_BIM_Swan_Dive-8206.jpg

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.

Behind the Bar: Haley Jeffries // Lures Bar & Grille

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
Belle Isle 'Behind the Bar' Lures Bar and Grille_2019-02-28_0686_TSUCALAS.jpg


Nestled on the outskirts of tourist-heavy Annapolis, Maryland, Lures Bar & Grille has been serving up some of the best seafood and craft beer in the area for more than a decade. While the 27-draft tap list of only craft beer draw a lot of attention, this small-but-mighty bar staff can also whip up a mean cocktail. Focusing on fresh ingredients, bartender Haley Jeffries and the Lures team create drinks that perfectly compliment good times, great food, and patio weather. We recently chatted with Haley about getting her start in the industry, her favorite spots to stop for a drink in Annapolis, and her “Golden Rule” for bartenders. Haley also shared her recipe for the aptly named Honey Habanero cocktail, Instagrammable.


First thing’s first, who are you?

My name is Haley Jeffries, and I’ve been at Lures Bar & Grille for about a year now.


How long have you been bartending?

I’ve been bartending for way too long–probably six or seven years! This has been my favorite bartending job, for sure. I just got my Associate’s Degree last month, so I’ve been doing that on the side, and next month I’m taking my exam to get my TEFL [Teaching English as a Foreign Language] certificate.


So you’ve been busy! What first got you behind the bar?

My parents own a smoothie shop [Robeks] in the Harbor Center in Annapolis, so I’ve worked in the restaurant industry since I was about 13. After that, I jumped around to multiple serving positions. When I started serving at Lures, I kind of got lucky because they needed a bartender. At first when they asked if I was interested, I said “no,” because this place is pretty intimidating and the drinks are kind of complex. I was hesitant, but they threw me in and gave me a really extensive training.

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

The biggest thing that I’ve learned is to not freak out. Especially when you get busy or “weeded,” it’s so easy to say “Oh my God, I can’t make this drink,” but you can’t make a good drink if you’re freaking out. Just stay calm and have fun. People are at a bar to have a good time, so just relax and have a good time with them.

Do you have a favorite drink?

I really like a jalapeño Moscow Mule, or any kind of Moscow Mule. Ginger Beer is my favorite thing. We also make this drink here in the summer that’s cucumber vodka, lemonade, and a little bit of agave. Or anything margarita. Clearly, I just like alcohol.

Belle Isle 'Behind the Bar' Lures Bar and Grille_2019-02-28_0898_TSUCALAS.jpg


You’re talking to the right people! If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Agave is my favorite sweetener, especially in the summer. Tequila is my go-to liquor-wise. You can make anything good with tequila.


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

More than any place I’ve ever worked, they give people room to grow. They’re very much like, “Hey, you have an idea? Throw it at us, we’ll see if we like it.” Sometimes there’s constructive criticism, and sometimes they’ll just put it on the menu the next day. Management here is really phenomenal. They’re super helpful as far giving advice and encouraging growth, which encourages you to try to be better and work harder.


What makes your bar unique?

The food is great, first of all. We have almost 30 beers on tap, and we don’t serve any of your typical domestics. But also, I think I might be the person who’s worked here the shortest amount of time, and you don’t see that in a lot of restaurants. There’s usually a lot of turnaround in restaurants, but there are servers who have been here for 10 or 12 years.

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

I really like Vida in downtown Annapolis. I love tacos, Mexican food, and tequila, obviously. Paladar has great margaritas. As far as “divey” bars, I really enjoy West End. They’re open until like 1 or 2 a.m., so it’s easy for us to go there after work.


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

Downtown Annapolis is definitely the place for it. People come here to visit, to explore, and to be by the water and be tranquil. I think if you can sit by the water and drink a cocktail that looks pretty, you’ll probably drink more than one of them if you have a good view.

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

For bartenders, my Golden Rule is to greet your customers right away. Now that I’ve done this for so long, I’m kind of picky about the service I get when I go out, and I like to be greeted within a minute. I think it’s important, because you know your experience is going to be good.

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

I like spicy in general, so I love the Honey Habanero. This new cocktail [Instagrammable] has definitely been my favorite creation so far.


Belle Isle 'Behind the Bar' Lures Bar and Grille_2019-02-28_0613_TSUCALAS.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero

  • 4-5 fresh strawberries

  • juice from 1 fresh lime

  • ½ oz. agave

  • top with sparkling wine

  • garnish with a lime wheel and edible pineapple flower garnish ( via Dress the Drink)

Preparation:

Blend or muddle lime, strawberry, and agave and add mixture to shaker tin. Add Belle Isle Honey Habanero and ice, then shake vigorously. Pour (don't strain) into a Collins glass and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lime wheel and edible pineapple flower.

Recipe by Haley Jeffries, courtesy of Lures Bar & Grille.

Photos by Justin Tsucalas.


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.

Wanna know more about us?

Behind the Bar: Joshua Le // The HofGarden

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
180925_BelleIsle_Hof_013.jpg

Some venues just can’t be tied down to one concept. With three stories, a rooftop bar, a music venue, and a private event space, The HofGarden has room to cater to almost any crowd. Located in Richmond’s brewery-saturated Scott’s Addition neighborhood, The HofGarden is primarily a German-style biergarten–albeit one that serves some amazing pizza and stellar cocktails. The latter is due partially to bartender Joshua Le, an industry veteran who knows a thing or two about shaking a cocktail. We recently chatted with Joshua about his favorite guilty pleasure cocktail (hint: it’s frozen and fruity), his favorite places in Richmond, and his #1 way to annoy a bartender. Scroll down to read all about it, plus get the recipe for Sun-Kissed, a cocktail featured in our upcoming addition of The Moonshine Book.


First thing’s first, who are you?

I’m Joshua Le, bartender (and babysitter) at the The HofGarden. I’ve been at the Hof on and off for three years and back full-time since early 2018.

What first got you behind the bar?

I’m like a bar fly: the booze.


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

Focus on the customer and operating the bar you’re behind as efficiently as possible. The cocktails will come to you as you go.

Favorite drink made by someone else?

I never know the names of the drinks, and honestly, I don’t think the person making them for me ever knows the name either. I like trying something new and different, so I always have the latest cocktail they’ve been working on or their favorite.

180925_BelleIsle_Hof_049.jpg


Favorite drink that you make?

I call it “The Equalizer”–gin, lemon, simple syrup, mint, and Peychaud’s. It’s light, refreshing, boozy, and it’s served in my favorite glass–the coupe.

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Miami Vice. You can look, though. I don't mind.


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

Belle Isle, duh.

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

There's always something different going on here. We have a lot of space to work with, so we have live music, DJs, fashion shows, weddings, spoken word events, and, one time, an amateur wrestling match. So there’s always something to keep you on your toes.

What makes your bar unique?

The Hof has a unique culture that I've never seen in any bar I've worked at. This place is always growing, and they really support employee growth–if it's restaurant related or not. They really invest in the best interest of their staff.


Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

Sticky Rice is and has been one of my favorite bars ever. Always a great crowd, and if I had my own joint, I would hire any one of their exceptional bar staff. Always polite, personable,  and quick.


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

The craft cocktail scene in Richmond is growing right along with the city. Richmond has grown exponentially in the last five years, and people are taking note. I think we have more breweries than Starbucks, and new restaurants are constantly opening giving plenty of opportunities to those passionate about craft cocktails. It’s an exciting time to be here, and anybody serious about craft cocktails should consider Richmond as a great place to make a name for themselves.


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

I don’t care if you’re a bartender, so don’t tell me.

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

With [Belle Isle Key Account Manager] Ashley Grant. If she’s not available, I do enjoy a Belle Isle Cold Brew Negroni.


180925_BelleIsle_Hof_037.jpg


Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. vanilla bean-infused Belle Isle Black Label

  • 1 oz. pineapple juice

  • ½ oz. sunflower seed orgeat

  • ½ oz. fresh lemon juice

  • 1 egg white


    Preparation:

    Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin over ice. Shake and strain out ice, then dry shake for 15 seconds. Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with vanilla bean paste.

**Recipe by Bobby Kruger of The HofGarden.

All photos by Kate Magee.

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.

Wanna know more about us?

Behind the Bar: Ginny Lawhorn // Sticky Rice

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
GinnyShake.jpg

As a sushi restaurant with an innovative, 100% vegan bar program in a potentially haunted historical building in Baltimore, Sticky Rice Baltimore is definitely one-of-a-kind. So too is Ginny Lawhorn, the restaurant's managing partner and bar wizard. With nearly two decades of service industry experience, a serious amount of knowledge, Ginny knows a thing or two about the bar business. We recently chatted with Ginny about what it takes to run a bar, being a part of Baltimore's bar scene, and how to cure many of life's ailments with whiskey and water. She also shared with us her recipe for the tasty, versatile, and fantastically-named Just Like Honey.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I'm Ginny Lawhorn, Managing Partner of Sticky Rice Baltimore and Bar Lead at Landmark Theatre, Harbor East. I have been bartending for 16 years.  I have run the bar program with Landmark Harbor East for 10 years and have managed the Front of House and beverage program at Sticky Rice Baltimore for six years.

What first got you behind the bar?

Oh, gosh…a need to pay my rent while I was in school got me into hospitality.  That and being too antsy and too nocturnal for offices. What got me behind a bar was the fastest “YES!” in the west when a bartender no-showed for a shift, and I swore I could cover the service bar.  I dug my heals in and stayed put from there.

Favorite drink made by someone else?

Anything Amie Ward at R. Bar or Chelsea Gregoire at Hotel Revival.  The company can not be beat! Put your faith in the brilliance, skills, and knowledge of these badass babes!

 

Favorite drink that you make?

A Last Word.  I am very partial to ratio cocktails and am head over heals for “perfect” cocktails.  Last Words are equal measure classic cocktail, timeless chic, international flair, and good taste.  The scent of a well made Last Word also lingers just long enough to brighten the day of those around it!  Try subbing Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit for the gin in a Last Word for an extra zippy citrus-forward gem!

sushi.jpg

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Orangina!  I love citrus. I think Orangina is a gift from the heavens.  My mom used to say the only thing I took away from living in California when I was little is an obsession with Orangina and artichokes.

 

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

Water, sparkling and flat.  I think water is the most underutilized component of cocktail programs.  I often joke that whiskey in water is the cure to most ailments. Sore throat?  Whiskey in hot water. Upset stomach? Whiskey in sparkling water. Heartbreak? Whiskey on the rocks.  

 

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

My very favorite part of working in hospitality is building your “Bar Family.”  The time you spend locked behind a bar, or on the floor of a restaurant, or in a kitchen provides very unique environments for relationship building.  Sharing small spaces, working long shifts and late nights day after day creates bonds you don’t find in every field. The respect for personhood and sense of community in our industry is our pillar of strength and strongest intrinsic value.  I am grateful for the opportunity to help create and cultivate a work home for my teams.

 

What makes your bar unique?

Landmark is unique in the constantly changing line up of guests based on film release.  Seven movie screens with seven titles offers seven audiences. It is a super fun setting for a movie geek. 10 years later I am still super excited to talk movie shop with guests every new release Friday.

Sticky Rice Baltimore is incredibly unique in environment. In 1904, a mahogany wood bar was commissioned in Germany destined for a home in America.  After being meticulously crafted and spending several months at sea this bar arrived in the port of Baltimore.  With might and some struggle it was installed by hand at 1634 Aliceanna Street.  This bar found its home at Dix Hotel, an Irish bar on the first floor topped with two floors of boarding rooms above.  Over the next century this bar would continually operate, passing through a few hands and concepts.  

In 2010, Sticky Rice Baltimore found a home here.  Embracing the truest roots of Baltimore's hospitality while mixing in fusion offerings, we have been fortunate to belly up to this bar for the last eight years.  I don’t take for granted our incredible fortune to be able to see this bar through this generation and iteration of hospitality.

The building is haunted AF too. 


Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

I am a sucker for a nice patio and a good view!  Little Havana is my favorite in Baltimore. Parc is my must in Philly.  Momofuku CCDC is my favorite guilty pleasure in DC.

 

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

Baltimore has an incredibly vibrant cocktail culture that is very supportive and inclusive.  It is a city that takes pride in the beer and spirits made here. Union Craft Brewing is leading by incredible example in support and inclusion with the creation of the Union Craft Collective. This new space will house Union Brewing, Baltimore Whiskey Company, Vent Coffee and a variety of other local purveyors.

 

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

For both guests and bartenders, wherever possible: “Be kind to everyone you meet, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”.  I don’t say it to sound cliché or “golden rule” shame anyone. Just as a simple reminder that you don’t know what happened that has brought this person in front of you.  I went to work the day my best friend passed away from breast cancer because I didn’t know where else to go or what else to do. I have had guests come in immediately following being laid off because seeing a movie was what made sense at that time.  "Please" and "Thank You" always help! Lead with kindness whenever you are able.

 

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

A Belle Isle Honey Habanero Bloody Mary outside of Sticky Rice Baltimore!


drinkssmall.jpg

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero

  • 1 oz. Belle Isle Grapefruit

  • 2 oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit juice

  • One drop organic honey

Preparation:

One cocktail, Two ways

1. Coupe - In a mixing tin over ice combine all ingredients.  Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish will honeycomb inside of a grapefruit peel.

2. Highball - In a mixing tin over ice combine all ingredients.  Shake vigorously and strain into a highball glass over fresh ice.  Top with sparkling water. Garnish with honeycomb inside of a grapefruit peel.

 

Want to go behind more bars?


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: Spencer Robinson // The War Mouth

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
180307_BelleIsleBook_TheWarMouth_035.jpg

In South Carolina's capital, down-home Southern fare is king. Currently, some of the best the city has to offer comes from The War Mouth in the booming Cottontown neighborhood of Columbia (or Cola, to locals). Patrons may come to The War Mouth for the catfish stew, fried gizzards, and homemade barbecue (they have a pit in the back), but they stay for the playful, creative, and delicious cocktails. We recently chatted with Head Bartender Spencer Robinson (better known as "Sweet Baby" to some) about his short, but super successful, time behind the bar, his favorite cocktails, and his secret pre-shift ritual (hint: it involves whiskey). Spencer also lets us in on his herbacious, smooth, and smokin' Belle Isle cocktail, the Burning Bush

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

My name is Spencer “Sweet Baby” Robinson, and I am the Head Bartender at The War Mouth. I have been behind the bar for six months and have been in the service industry for seven years.

What first got you Behind the Bar?

It looked like it was more fun than washing dishes, which is the position I had at the time. Turns out I have a knack for the creative aspects of the job and some people would say a natural gift for hospitality, so it was a good fit. As an avid drinker, it was easy for me to pick up the nuances of the liquid artistry.

180307_BelleIsleBook_TheWarMouth_050.jpg
180307_BelleIsleBook_TheWarMouth_059.jpg
180307_BelleIsleBook_TheWarMouth_074.jpg

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

Never stop watching and listening. As a bartender still very new to the field, I think it is incredibly important to use every day as an opportunity to learn something new. The moment you stop listening and learning from others is the moment you’ve peaked.

What's your favorite drink made by someone else?

I’m a big fan of the Old Fashioned. I think the Old Fashioned is the ultimate test when I’m visiting a new bar or watching a bartender. A well-made Old Fashioned speaks volumes of the bartender and of the bar. There’s a new bar in Columbia called COA that slings beautiful mezcal drinks, including a variation called the Oaxacan Old Fashioned.

 

180307_BelleIsleBook_TheWarMouth_117.jpg

 

Favorite drink that you make?

Whichever one the customer loves at that moment. The ones that don’t suck. Anything but a Lemon Drop.

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

A shot of bourbon at the start of a shift.

 

 

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

It cycles, but I’m on a mezcal kick now. Mezcal plays beautifully with Chartreuse, and I very much enjoy playing with that and other herbaceous flavors.

 

180307_BelleIsleBook_TheWarMouth_118.jpg

What’s your favorite part about working at The War Mouth?

The people, all the way around. Staff and customers. We have an extraordinarily close-knit group of staff that have started to absorb our neighborhood regulars into our little family. Serving them has become more than a way of making money, and is now a way to be involved in people’s lives.

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

I’m a big fan of The Whig (our local craft-beer dive bar), Bar None (our late night bar), Art Bar (our indescribable bar), and COA (our mezcal / tequila bar). Columbia has a close-knit service industry culture, so we have friends that work all over town. Anywhere we’ve got buddies working, we’ll hang out.

180307_BelleIsleBook_TheWarMouth_045.jpg

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

I’ve only been behind the bar for six months, so I can’t speak to that directly. I know that I’m interested in continuing to take every opportunity to learn from every corner of the bar scene. I also love the way Columbia is interested in seeing classic cocktails done well, but also so willing to try new things.

 

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

Golden rule for bartenders: service is about more than drinks. Taking care of your customers goes farther than what they have in front of them. Golden rule for customers: I’m more than a piece of meat.

 

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

A double pour straight to the face. In lieu of that:

 

TheBurningBush.jpg

The Burning Bush

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Ruby Red Moonshine

  • ½ oz. thyme-infused Aperol

  • ½ oz.  honey-rosemary simple syrup

  • ½ oz.  mezcal

  •  oz. lime

  • egg white

 

Preparation:

Mix all ingredients into a shaker and dry shake to break down the egg white for 10-15 seconds. Add ice and cold shake ingredients until shaker is chilled. Double strain into a coupe glass. Finally, garnish with a torched rosemary sprig laid across the top.

 

Recipe by Spencer Robinson.

All photos by Kate Magee

Behind the Bar: Marvin Allen // Carousel Bar & Lounge

Behind the BarBICS AdminComment
CarouselBar-MoonshineBook-18.jpg

Though every bar that we feature in our "Behind the Bar" series is amazing and special in its own way, it's rare that we come across an establishment that is truly one of a kind. It's also rare that we get to chat with a bartender who has more than two decades of expertise and has authored his own cocktail book, but we checked both off our list in America's Cocktail Capital -- New Orleans. Nestled in the heart of the beautiful, frenetic French Quarter, the historic Carousel Bar & Lounge at the Hotel Monteleone and its bar manager, Marvin Allen, provide patrons with excellent cocktails, award-winning service, and exceptional ambiance   -- all while slowly spinning. We spoke with Marvin about his time in the industry, his top bartending tips, and his deceptively boozy creation, the Belle Isle Refresher

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I'm Marvin Allen, Head Bartender of Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. I have been bartending for about 25 years, and have been at the Carousel for 16 of those years.

What first got you Behind the Bar?

My original career choice was restaurant management, but after my last management position I was burned out.  I then made the choice to bartend temporarily and return to management after about a year. Once I discovered how much fun I was having bartending, I decided to make it a career. This was also around the time that the modern cocktail revolution was beginning. I developed a passion for bartending and creating cocktails.

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

Keep a positive attitude at all times.  Don't let the little things get to you. Keep on educating yourself.  Keep up on new trends and products.

CarouselBar-MoonshineBook-9.jpg
CarouselBar-MoonshineBook-11.jpg
CarouselBar-MoonshineBook-13.jpg

What's your favorite drink made by someone else?

My favorite cocktail made by someone else is the Sazerac.  Even though I make a great one, it's fun to have one made by someone else.

CarouselBar-MoonshineBook-30.jpg

Favorite drink that you make?

The Pisco Sour is the national cocktail of Peru, and Pisco itself is a spirit distilled from grapes that almost became extinct due to political unrest in Peru and the lack of knowledge in the United States.  The Pisco Sour was created by Victor Vaughen Morris in the early 1920's in Lima, Peru. It is made with fresh lime juice, egg white, simple syrup, and Pisco. It's a very light and refreshing cocktail.

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

A frozen ice cream cocktail.

 

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

The one cocktail ingredient that is could not live without is good Scotch whisky.

What’s your favorite part about working at Carousel Bar?

My favorite part of working in the Carousel would be the interacting of the different types of people, their cultures, and where they come from.  The Carousel has become a destination bar, and it's great fun to educate our guests on the different cocktails of the city and have them experience a cocktail they may not get in their hometown. They also want the recipes so they can return home and recreate the cocktails.

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

I like to stop for a cocktail anywhere I can sit outside and enjoy the peace and quiet.

What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in New Orleans?

It's great, as we have everything from well-made cocktails to Hand Grenades, Hurricanes and Frozen Daiquiris. The return of the classic cocktails has been great, especially since the beginning of Tales of the Cocktail* which brought the classics back to life.

CarouselBar-MoonshineBook-29.jpg

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

Always use a jigger when preparing cocktails, because it will make a great cocktail and will always be consistent.  One other thing to remember is the guest that comes in and orders a beer may come back and order one of the classics. Or, if you talk to that guest you may be able to suggest a cocktail, as he may not be educated or have the confidence to order something unknown to him.

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

Favorite way to drink Belle Isle is on the rocks.


CarouselBar-MoonshineBook-26.jpg

BELLE ISLE REFRESHER

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ oz. Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee

  • ¼ oz. Frangelico

  • 3-4 drops Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

  • ¼ oz. Simple Syrup

  • 3-4 oz. Half and Half

  • Garnish with coffee beans and chocolate syrup

Preparation:

Drizzle the chocolate syrup in a chilled martini glass. Combine the rest of the ingredients in an ice-filled Boston Shaker and shake until well chilled and frothy.  Strain into the chocolate syrup lined glass and top with three coffee beans and a dash of fresh grated nutmeg. Sit back and enjoy.  Tastes like a piece of the Italian pick me up, Tiramisou Cake!

Recipe by Marvin Allen.

All photos by Joey Wharton

 

CarouselBar-MoonshineBook-7.jpg

*The Belle Isle Team is so excited to be a part of this year's Tales of the Cocktail!

Join us for Distillé des Bons Temps - a poolside moonshine tasting and cocktail party at the Hotel Monteleone on Tuesday, July 17th! Bring your swimmies!


Cocktails on the brain?


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.

wanna hear more of our story?