23 W. Marshall St.
Second Place: The Roosevelt
Third Place: The Rogue Gentlemen
"Richmond's come to rely on us for consistency and originality for our cocktail program," says owner Jay Bayer, who struggled initially to loosen the reins and let his team take more control. "But you have to create a culture that allows people to thrive and create." Beverage director James Kohler agrees: "It takes a bar team that's both passionate and willing, knowing that being the best won't happen overnight and every day you should learn something new, taste something different." While both see Richmond as having grown as a cocktail town, it's not there yet, they say. "It's still really hard to get a great drink after 11," Bayer says. "When the day comes where we can all knock back a few well-made Last Words after midnight, then we've arrived." The Roosevelt, which led the cocktail charge in Richmond, began mixing its Seersucker — bourbon, sweet tea syrup over a charred frozen lemon — back in 2011. Jackson Ward gem the Rogue Gentlemen put Fernet-Branca on tap and transformed its creative cocktail menu into hardbound, lavishly illustrated book.
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