The 2015 Bar Guide 

A reference manual for Richmond nightlife from A to Z.

Page 4 of 5

click to enlarge One of the largest patios in Richmond, at Southern Railway Taphouse at the Turning Basin, fills up quickly. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • One of the largest patios in Richmond, at Southern Railway Taphouse at the Turning Basin, fills up quickly.

P: The Patios

Tons of seating? River view? Priceless people watching? What makes a good patio depends on whom you ask, but Richmond has one for just about everybody.

You can’t beat the skyline views of the Boathouse at Rocketts Landing (boathouserva.com) and Legend Brewing Co. (legendbrewing.com). Portico Restaurant & Bar offers up a dreamy outdoor arrangement (porticorichmond.com) and the Daily Kitchen & Bar (thedailykitchenandbar.com) is the perfect spot to observe colorful Carytown crowds. And there’s a brand-new hidden patio at the Black Sheep open for happy hour.

Dog lover? No problem. You can enjoy a frozen margarita with your pup on the deck at En Su Boca (ensuboca.com), sip on a pint with your faithful four-legger at Portrait House (portrait-house.com), chill in the shade over at Patrick Henry Pub and Grill (thephpub.com) or hide away at the Northside Grille (northsidegrille.com).

For a more action-packed evening, don’t miss the bustling patios of Southern Railway Taphouse (srtaphouse.com) and Sine’ Irish Pub and Restaurant (sineirishpub.com) in Shockoe Slip, or Baja Bean Co. (bajabean.com) and Starlite Dining and Lounge (starlitediningandlounge.com) in the Fan, or sipping alongside the volleyball court at Babes of Carytown (facebook.com/babes of carytown). Just guard your drink from the flying sand.


click to enlarge Mattias Hägglund makes his own tonic at Heritage — and you can take a bottle of his syrup home. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Mattias Hägglund makes his own tonic at Heritage — and you can take a bottle of his syrup home.

Q: Quinine

The cinchona tree has been gin’s best buddy ever since the gin and tonic was invented. Quinine is extracted from the tree’s bark, and although it hasn’t been used as an anti-malarial drug since the advent of antibiotics, it’s what gives tonic water its distinctively astringent taste. Heritage bar program manager Mattias Hägglund makes his own. He takes cinchona bark, secret herbs and spices (including juniper) and simmers them along with sugar in water to create a tonic syrup. Add seltzer and you’re in business. If that all sounds too complicated, Heritage sells bottles of Hägglund’s syrup for $16, making it a lot easier for you to whip up one of his Will Rush specials at home (heritagerva.com).

The Will Rush Special
1 fresh chili pepper
2 ounces white tequila
1 ounce tonic syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/4 ounce agave nectar
2 ounces seltzer or club soda
Orange zest, 2-3 inches

Muddle a chili pepper at the bottom of a cocktail shaker. If you like it hot, crush it up, and if not, just slightly bruise the pepper. Fill the shaker with ice. Add the tequila, tonic syrup, lime juice, agave and seltzer. Shake thoroughly. Strain into a tall glass filled with ice, wipe the rim of the glass with the orange zest and use it as a garnish.


click to enlarge feat25_r.jpg

R: You’d have to be rich to buy this drink.

The Macallan M single-malt whiskey at McCormack’s Big Whisky Grill comes in a hand-blown Lalique bottle, but you might want to buy it by the shot. One of those will set you back a cool $1,100 (facebook.com/McCormacksWhiskeyGrill).


click to enlarge Outside of Cha Cha’s Cantina, Gabby Kiser, Lauren Johnson and Natalie Silady make the most of available lighting and a proper selfie angle. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Outside of Cha Cha’s Cantina, Gabby Kiser, Lauren Johnson and Natalie Silady make the most of available lighting and a proper selfie angle.

S: Selfies

A few bartenders have spotted the dreaded selfie stick. Please, no.

Instead, go for the classic if you must. On a recent Friday night, we gleaned a few tips from Gabby Kiser, 21, Lauren Johnson, 22, and Natalie Silady, 22 — three bubbly, enthusiastic, camera-ready servers at Cha Cha’s Cantina in Shockoe Bottom (chachascantina.com). They shared three tips to help you get it right. Good lighting is a must — natural is best, they say. Go to a window. Or if you’re partying in a dark club, keep your eyes open for creative solutions. Kiser says the bright Red Bull fridge is their special go-to spot. Front flash is a smart feature for your phone, too. Angles? Hold it up high, they say — “and pick a good side,” Silady says. Finally — the pose. Be happy. After all, you’re here to get the weight of the world off your shoulders.


click to enlarge feat25_t.jpg

T: Tobacco

Cigars are divisive. Puffing away, looking like a mobster, some guys (and it’s mostly guys, although women smoke cigars too) couldn’t care less about alienating friends and strangers with their noxious fumes. For them, it’s worth that sweet, intoxicating draw of tobacco. Smoking laws pushed the cloudy haze outdoors (unless it’s a hookah you crave), but a few havens for lovers of a fine Cuban cigar exist. Mona Lounge and Cigar Bar emphasizes the masculine vibe with leather chairs and dark wood (monaloungecigarbar.com). The Pig and Pearl offers a huge variety from which to choose (thepigandpearl.com). And the first cigar destination of them all, Havana ’59, still lights them up on the rooftop lounge (havana59.net).


U: Uber Like a Pro

Nothing beats a ride in a Kia Sedona with an interior that resembles your grandmother’s prized plastic-covered sofa, sage advice and a reminder to “get turnt up!” A recent ride offered just that. All the driver asked of us was to use the provided barf bags if needed. “You wouldn’t throw up in your mama’s car. Don’t do it in mine,” she advised. The app-based service makes it easy to use when you’ve had a few. Just don’t request your ride until you’re finished with that drink. Drivers are usually there within minutes. Keep an eye out on social media for Uber-sponsored promos (they recently gave a weekend of free rides to destinations south of the James) and friends who offer up their own promo codes for free rides.


click to enlarge Vinyl night at Saison.
  • Vinyl night at Saison.

V: Spin the Vinyl

There’s something incredibly satisfying about watching a shiny, black platter spin around with a drink in your hand while in good company. It’s a reminder of simpler times when we gave pause to throw on an entire album and indulge in the liner notes, lyrics and cover art. Spotify be damned! Plenty of folks around town are committed to the vinyl experience.

On Tuesdays, Saison invites customers to bring a favorite album to share with the crowd. In return, it will take $5 off your tab, and you’ll make plenty of new friends provided your taste doesn’t suck (saisonrva.com). Portrait House holds a vinyl series called the Vinyl Countdown, which features a different DJ each Thursday with a happy hour that extends until 9 p.m. (portrait-house.com). Triple Crossing Brewing Co.’s Vinyl Flight Night focuses on a featured album and discussion with a guest over a few brews one or two Sundays each month. (triplecrossingbeer.com).




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