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.
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.
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
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.
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.