Summer’s Best Cocktails

We could all use something tall and cool heading into the summer season. And Virginia’s top mixologists are only too happy to oblige. For stylish and delicious cocktails made in true Virginia fashion, try these signature quaffs from bars and restaurants around the state.

Two Up, Two Down 


Thomas Leggett, The Roosevelt, Richmond,

Named for the popular state hand symbol: two fingers up + two fingers down = VA.

1 ½ ounces Laird's apple brandy
½ ounces Continental gin
½ ounces Broadbent rainwater madeira
½ ounces coffee syrup (see below)
½ ounces fresh lime juice
dash angostura bitters
orange peel to garnish

Combine all with ice. Shake and strain into ice filled rocks glass. Garnish with orange peel.

Coffee syrup:

1 cup strong black coffee
1 cup sugar

Stir together coffee and sugar until combined. 

The Traveller

Deanna Meade and Thomas Burke, Haywood's at The Georges, Lexington,

2 ounces Lexington Bourbon
½ ounce Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
1 ounce simple syrup
1 dash orange bitters
ginger brew, your choice of brand, to fill

Build in a highball glass packed with ice. Garnish with lemon peel.

I Am Virginia

Todd Thrasher of Bar PX, Alexandria,

Todd Thrasher’s riff on the Old Fashioned plays homage to his home state with the Virginia figs and local rye.

¾ ounces fig simple syrup (see below)
2 ounces Catoctin Creek round stone rye
liberal dash of orange bitters
orange peel to garnish.

Combine fig simple syrup, bitters and rye in a mixing glass, stir and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with orange peel.  

Fig simple syrup:
1 quart sugar
1 quart water
1 quart dried Virginia figs

Heat water over medium heat, add sugar and whisk until dissolved. Add figs, reduce heat to a low simmer for 20 minutes and remove from heat. Let cool. Strain through a fine chinois. Refrigerate.  

Lancaster Lemonade

The Tides Inn, Irvington,

This refreshing, slightly tart summer drink, served in a tall glass, proves a relaxing way to beat the heat.

1 part vodka
1 part limoncello
½ fresh lemon, squeezed

Pour all ingredients into a tall glass over ice.

Top with ginger ale and add lemon wheels and fresh lemon balm for garnish.

Honeysuckle Lavender Martini

Boar’s Head Inn, Charlottesville,

This martini marries light and sweet floral flavors with the acidity of lime for a tasty cocktail that looks as bright as it tastes.

3 ounces Cathead honeysuckle vodka
1 ½ ounces lavender water (see below)
2 squeezes of lime
club soda to fill remainder of glass

Shake all ingredients and serve.

Lavender water:
Using roughly the same proportions you would to make tea, soak a few sprigs of dried lavender in hot water overnight (or boiling water and let steep); then strain. 

Melon Martini

½ ounce Champagne
½ ounce triple sec
¾ ounce lime juice
3 ounces Van Gogh melon vodka
2 ounces honeydew or cantaloupe, puréed

Mix all in a shaker with ice, then serve in a martini glass. Garnish with melon balls of your choice.

The Blue Puppy

Hunter Johnson, Lucky, Roanoke,

Inspired by the phrase, “A very blue puppy cries”—Appalachian Valley, Blue Ridge Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plain.

1½ ounces Catoctin Creek Watershed gin
1½ ounces honeysuckle, blueberry, allspice, hibiscus and sugar tincture
¾ ounces Dolin Vermouth Blanc
2 shakes Angostura orange bitters
1 chocolate mint to garnish

Combine gin, tincture, vermouth and bitters in an ice-filled Boston Shaker. Shake vigorously and serve in a chilled champagne coupe. Garnish with a leaf of mint.
June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum