Bottoms up, y’all. It’s Virginia Spirits Month here in the commonwealth, sponsored by the Virginia Distillers Association and meant to spotlight Virginia-made spirits. Many local bartenders do so all year ’round, but there are a few special cocktails this month that are worth sidling up to the bar for.
Junction’s Alec Spidalieri is shaking things up with the Rum Communion, the Stablemate, the Chai Tai and the Other Woman. The Rum Communion is “an upscale, seasonal daiquiri for fall,” says Spidalieri, and is made with Charlottesville’s own Vitae Spirits golden rum. Spidalieri washes each bottle of golden rum with one pound of brown butter—he whisks the rum and butter together, then freezes the mixture overnight, skims off the butter, strains and rebottles the rum—then combines the butter-washed rum with a cordial made from grilled pineapple and fresh lime juice, aggressively shaken, strained and served up.
“It’s a rich but balanced cocktail that packs a lot of flavor with butter and caramel notes,” says Spidalieri.
The Chai Tai’s components, dark chai spice rum from Culpeper’s Belmont Farm’s Kopper Kettle combined with Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, lime and orgeat (“a sort of floral almond milk syrup,” Spidalieri explains), give this take on a classic mai tai “a new dimension of spice character that makes it perfect for late summer/early fall,” says Spidalieri.
Over at The Alley Light, in addition to the popular Rose Hill Ruby with Vitae Spirits platinum rum, Micah LeMon’s making a Virginia Alexander, made with Bowman Brothers bourbon, Vitae Spirits golden rum, P.Boo’s salted rum caramel (which LeMon makes himself), cream, egg white and black salt, and the Ugly Stick, concocted with Copper Fox rye, Virginia black birch (another LeMon creation), smoked maple, Zucca and black walnut bitters. LeMon says he’s also hitting a lot of folks with the Ugly Stick, perhaps due in no small part to the Copper Fox rye, made in Sperryville, which LeMon says “is an anomalous and interesting distillate” that tastes more Scotch-y than most whiskeys because of its high barley content.
Tavola, Whiskey Jar, Rapture and The Local are participating in Virginia Spirits Month, too, as are Charlottesville ABC stores, where you can taste some local spirits during in-store events.
Charlottesville’s super into bowls, with spots like Roots Natural Kitchen, Chopt, Poke Sushi Bowl and The Salad Maker, which all rolled into town over the last couple of years. Now we have two more: Citizen Bowl and b.good.
Citizen Bowl is open from 11am-3pm Monday through Friday in the Penny Heart private event space on the Downtown Mall (it’s the spot previously occupied by Eleven Months Presents: Sorry It’s Over and, before that, Yearbook Taco). Citizen Bowl offers eight different specialty bowls, all of which are gluten-free, such as the Fall Harvest (quinoa, power greens, beets, sweet potato, toasted pumpkin seeds, apple, chevre, balsamic) and the #umami (brown rice, power greens, local mushrooms, toasted sesame seeds, jalapeno, cilantro, edamame, arctic char, cilantro lime dressing), and make-your-own custom bowls.
Our bowls runneth over as casual farm-to-fork chain b.good is scheduled to open this week in the north wing of the Barracks Road Shopping Center, between Pink Palm and Penelope, with an array of grains and greens salads. The menu also promises burgers—beef, turkey, veggie—and chicken sandwiches made a few different ways, such as the Cousin Oliver (lettuce, tomato, onions, homemade pickles) or the El Guapo (bacon, homemade jalapeno slaw, jalapeno ranch), plus sides like sweet potato fries, avocado toast and eggplant meatballs, as well as smoothies, milkshakes and kids’ meals.
A few local food-and-drink spots are contributing to relief efforts for the damage caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which together killed more than 150 people and caused billions of dollars in damage in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean.
For an entire week in late August/early September, Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint, which has 10 locations throughout the southern United States, including one on Second Street SE off the Downtown Mall, donated 100 percent of its profits—totaling $34,236.61—to the American Red Cross to assist with Harvey relief.
This past weekend, Shenandoah Joe and Three Notch’d Brewing Company combined efforts to gather supplies for those affected. They’d hoped to fill a 48-foot trailer to send down to the people in southern Florida whose lives were “turned upside down” by Hurricane Irma, says Shenandoah Joe owner Dave Fafara. Although they collected quite a bit, including boxes of nonperishable canned and boxed food, clothes, diapers, cleaning supplies and more than 100 cases of water, plus $600 in cash donated by City Market vendors on Saturday, they didn’t get enough to fill a trailer on their own, so they’re combining with a similar Greene County effort to send a truck of supplies down this week. Someone even donated a car seat, says Fafara, adding that “it was good to see the community do something for people they don’t know.”