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Richmond Bartender Challenge: Black-Eyed Peas 

We asked Vanna Hem of Weezie’s Kitchen in Carytown to make a cocktail that you can sip for good luck this new year.

click to enlarge food01_bartender.jpg

Ash Daniel

A time-honored Southern tradition holds that people should eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day for luck and prosperity during the coming year. There are a number of reasons behind this and almost all date back to the Civil War. Our reason is because Mom said so, and that's usually all the reason one needs to do anything. Mom has always been a bit vague about what we should use to wash down our peas, though, and that's where Weezie's Kitchen bar manager Vanna Hem comes in. To start the new year with something that evokes or compliments black-eyed peas requires something a bit stronger than luck and prosperity.

"Well, the first thing I think about when I hear black-eyed peas is the saltiness," Hem says. "That usually comes from some sort of pork product and I immediately thought bacon."

We like Hem already.

"This drink isn't made with bourbon but rather rum and brandy," he says. "The savory qualities of the bacon-fat-washed rum compliments the black-eyed peas and the rosemary adds an herbal note to round it all out."

Starting the year with something bacon-fat-washed is the only way we're starting a year from now on. The peas with Hem's cocktail chaser gave us a nice salty booziness, which shortly thereafter turned into a lovely nap.

We're feeling more prosperous already.

click to enlarge ASH DANIEL
  • Ash Daniel

In Dew Time
by Vanna Hem

1.5 ounce Bacon Fat Washed Plantation 5-year-old Rum
1/2 ounce Copper & Kings American Brandy
1 ounce Rosemary infused Cocchi Torino vermouth
3 drops of mole bitters

Chill a rocks glass while burning a bourbon stave. Pour out the ice after chilling the glass and then place the glass over the torched stave to smoke the glass. Build the cocktail in a mixing glass, stir for 50 to 60 seconds. Pour the cocktail in the glass over one king cube. Garnish with a torched orange peel. Cheers.

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