Belle Isle Moonshine

Replace your vodka with something better.

Cocktails

Chill Out with 4 Belle Isle Frozen Cocktails

CocktailsStephanie StantonComment
Beat the heat with a frozen treat.  Photo by  Kate Magee .

Beat the heat with a frozen treat.

Photo by Kate Magee.

Let's face it: it's almost August, it's 90-plus degrees, and we're all over it. This late into a brutally hot summer, we're left with two choices: never leave the comfort of our air-conditioned homes or refuse to drink anything that's not frozen. We choose the latter! Luckily, we already have a few tried-and-true recipes up our sleeves that will bring your body temperature back to safe levels in no time. So grab your blender, and let's get chilly! 


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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.

Want to know more about Belle Isle?

5 Classic New Orleans Cocktails with a Belle Isle Twist

CocktailsBICS AdminComment

If New Orleans is usually a cocktail drinker's territory, Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday, if you'd prefer) turns the city into a jacked-up, lawless, booze-fueled Wild Wild West. But don't let those frozen Hurricanes and Long Islands Iced Teas fool you: New Orleans is the grandfather of the classic cocktail. Bar staples like the Sazerac and the Ramos Gin Fizz were invented here, and the  infamous cocktail festival Tales of the Cocktail is held in the city each year. 

In honor of Mardi Gras and Belle Isle's recent expansion into Louisiana (hi, new friends!), we wanted to share our own spins on some of your favorite classic New Orleans cocktails. Skip Bourbon Street this year, and try them for yourself at home!


 

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 learn more?

Cocktail Classics: The Martini

CocktailsBICS AdminComment

Perhaps there is no cocktail more classic than the martini. At least, not in America. But just how that past really went down is up for debate.

An American Original
The martini as we know it (gin, fortified wine or vermouth, perhaps an olive or onion) first appeared in The Bartender’s Manual in the 1880’s. There are several accounts of how the drink first came to be, but our favorite involves a California prospector striking gold and celebrating by asking a local bartender at a bar named Martini’s to make him a special drink using whatever he had on hand. Very American, indeed. 
  
Shaken or Stirred?
The good news is there's no "correct way" to prepare your martini. It simply comes down to preference. However, if you're interested in the science behind this debate some mixologists assert that shaking a martini oxidizes organic compounds in the liquor for an effect  akin to letting a red wine “breath” resulting in a tastier, as well as a colder, martini. The “stirrers” of the world argue that shaking a martini dilutes it – introducing water and bits of ice into what ought to be a very stiff drink.

Our version - The Moonshine Martini - honors the cocktail’s original flavor profile while doubling down on the drink's American heritage by substituting gin for the original American clear spirit. Enjoy!

Photos by Alex Kreher

Moonshine Martini

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Belle Isle Premium Moonshine
  • 1 oz. Contratto Bianco Vermouth

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients and stir with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon peel.

Courtesy of Jimmie Foster

 

 

Behind The Bar: Kabo Kgang of Fat Dragon

BICS Admin

Fat Dragon bartender Kabo Kgang is what we in the industry call a “lifer,” but his story is more unique than most. Originally from Johannesburg & Cape Town, South Africa, Kgang’s grandmother owned a shebeen which he recalls fondly as a space for “community - where everyone is like family.”

Kabo’s last 10 years in food service has brought him up and down the East Coast, from Philadelphia to New York, eventually settling in Virginia in 2012(?). This week, we stop by Fat Dragon to talk craft, celebrating local, and South African moonshine with Richmond’s friendliest bartender this side of the Boulevard. 

 

Interview: Kabo Kgang

Why choose to make your home in Richmond? 
I visited a friend here in 2011 when I was living in New York and fell in love right away. It’s incredible to me that you can be in heart of the city one minute, and climbing a rock wall by the river the next. 

Tell us more about your childhood and how you got your start in the service industry.
My grandmother owned a shebeen in Mpumalanga so I grew up around homemade beer and moonshine. We used to serve it in a calabash (a carved pumpkin) for people to pass around. My grandmother  would occasionally give me a taste or two. 

That was the local hangout and I helped out there both in the shebeen and on the farm  - it was an absolute community and family.

How is the bar at Fat Dragon unique? 
It’s a fusion of everything. We celebrate craft but really it’s people first. Everyone who comes to us at the end of the day works hard - if you want to come relax with a Budweiser that’s cool too. 

We try to focus on local, many of our taps are local breweries. Every month we do a tap takeover for the local breweries - we’ve done COTU, Ardent, Hardwood. We try to celebrate that renaissance. 

In terms of the cocktails, we have a “free thought” policy - which means we are always cultivating new drinks. Our team stays curious and always learns. You can never know it all. It’s always changing, there is always something new in the market. 

Right now we’re working on coffee cocktails with Confluence which we are really excited about. 

We focus on fresh ingredients, make our own syrups and house tonics. It doesn’t have to be complex - quality ingredients go a long way to taste amazing. 

What is your favorite part about being a bartender? 
It’s energy, the excitement. When someone sits at the bar, the energy is connected immediately. You feel the magnetism right from saying hello. I enjoy meeting people from different walks of life - I never know who I’m going to meet tonight.

I really enjoy the people I work with. We are very tight knit, very fluid, only promote healthy egos, that kind of thing. Pedro is the GM and could be in the office doing something but he’s always on the floor. He probably buses more than a busser. We all know what the goal is - the goal is to provide a good atmosphere, good energy.

Which cocktail do you hope people ask for?
Classics - or inspired from the classics. Something with the foundation that is tried and true - drinking on of those feels almost like talking to your grandma or grandma. I like tequila and gin drinks, when someone orders a fernet I like that a lot. It transports me in time.

What is your guilty pleasure cocktail? 
Well I would never feel guilty cocktail about it - but a dirty martini. Up. I enjoy the touch of salt, olive.

How does the bar influence the food, and vice versa?
The food is the birth of the inspiration for the bar, the flavors we try to incorporate those Asian flavors. One of our cocktails is Love you Long Time - with ginger and oolong tea. We are always looking back in the kitchen for five spice and pear - things like that. We’ve done five spice cocktails - we’re always messing that. 

Do you have any advice for new or home bartenders?
Stay humble and stay adventurous - have a healthy ego. Celebrate the people you work with and enjoy your team. Learn the classics but stay open to learning.

What’s the question you get most often while bartending?
“Where are you from?” or “How did you get to Richmond?” I always say, “I walked!” (Not really.) 

What’s the best food + cocktail pairing at Fat Dragon?
I would say the Warm & Fuzzy Honey (Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Bärenjäger liqueur, fresh OJ & bitters, topped with ginger beer) with the Tangerine Chicken.

Photos by Kate Magee

Hell's Belles

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz. Belle Ruby Red Grapefruit Moonshine
  • 3/4 oz. house made tonic
  • 3/4 oz. Elderflower syrup
  • 2 dashes Hibiscus Lavender Bitters

Preparation

Shake well, top with champagne, Licor 43, Egg white foam.

Recipe by Kabo Kgang

Apple Of My Isle

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz. Belle Isle Premium Moonshine

  • 3/4 oz. Pimm’s

  • 3/4 oz. Domaine de Canton Ginger liqueur
  • 1/2 oz. fresh squeezed ginger
  • 3/4 oz. fresh Ruby Red grapefruit juice
  • 2 dash Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit Bitters
  • 2 dash Lavender Cucumber Bitters

Preparation

Shake well, top with Bold Rock VA Cider, and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

Recipe by Kabo Kgang

Say Hello to Ruby Red

Cocktails, ProcessElizabeth Fuqua5 Comments

Much like the Honey Habanero, the Ruby Red is designed to be sipped alone or mixed into a delicious cocktail. Here at Belle Isle, our team prefers it topped with soda and a squeeze of lime. In fact, Ruby Red herself was inspired by the Honey Habanero infusion, which we all enjoy mixed with fresh grapefruit juice. It was a logical, and delicious, next step.

Behind The Bar: Joseph Ewens of Max's on Broad

Conversation, RichmondElizabeth FuquaComment

Joseph Ewens is what some would call a "lifer." After 18 years, eight bars, and seven cities, Ewens can clearly point to his success as a career bartender. "I just love people. The people are why I keep doing this," he told us during a recent visit to the bar at Max's on Broad. Joseph's enthusiasm for craft cocktails and great conversation left little question around the young restaurant's recent popularity.