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Booze Qs

Local barkeeps and booze purveyors list some of their favorites when not slinging cocktails


Vanna Hem
Weezie's Kitchen

Favorite after-work drink spot: I usually walk about 100 feet to see my homies at the Jasper. I have a shot of Jaeger and then a B&G. Then I Uber to Flora to see my boys Adam Stull and Sam Park. I'm a sucker for their frozen drinks. This way I can catch a late DJ set or band while enjoying a drink, and not have to be all up in the mix.

Go-to neighborhood joint: I live in Carytown, and my go-to, low-key neighborhood bar for 10 years has been New York Deli. It's chill Sunday through Tuesday nights and my fiance and I like to keep it chill.

Best hangover food: Pho, or a greasy burger from Carytown Burgers & Fries.

Most underrated and overrated drinks: In my opinion the most underrated drink is the daiquiri. It's so simple and so delicious, but in the wrong hands can easily be messed up. Moscow Mules are hands down the most overrated. But hey, if someone wants one I'm going to make it!

Trend you're tired of: Bartenders calling themselves mixologists, and bartenders thinking they can be rude to guests. This is the hospitality business. I don't know when it became OK to be rude to your guests. That's gotta go.

New ingredient you're experimenting with: We are always experimenting with Southeast Asian fruits, and any type of uncommon herb or root.

Best ABC store: The best ABC store is the Thompson location. They are always nice and accommodating. If I'm looking for something special or obscure, the Main Street location is a hidden gem.


  • Scott Elmquist

William McCormack
McCormack's Whisky Grill

Favorite after-work drink spot: I tend to go to an old favorite; Bamboo Cafe is my favorite longtime bar. If I am trying to go a bit more upscale I will head to Rogue, just a top-notch place.

Best hangover food: Pho So 1.

Most underrated and overrated drinks: Underrated drink is a neat blended scotch. Most overrated is the Old Fashioned.

Trend you are tired of: ABC putting relatively mundane spirits in the lottery. One that really bugs me is the Colonel E.H. Taylor Small Batch. It sits on shelves everywhere in the country except here. It is a $40 bottle that ABC treats like it is special. It's not.

New ingredient you're experimenting with:I love the PX Cask Finish Breckenridge bourbon. Breckenridge Distillery always impresses me and their PX Cask Finish is pretty special. The sherry casking adds a depth of flavor that brings a rich and sweet floraly fruit note to the back end of their bourbon.


  • Scott Elmquist

Jonathan Wasilewski
Belle Isle Moonshine

Favorite after-work drink spot: As area sales manager with Belle Isle, I'm on the road three or four days out of the week. I can also be in at least five bars or restaurants in a day. With that said, my favorite place for an after-work drink is at my house with my lovely lady and my beautiful son. Don't worry, he doesn't partake.  

Go-to neighborhood joint: RVA is loaded with incredible neighborhood bars, and we're extremely lucky for that. For me personally, Weezie's Kitchen has been my second home for almost 10 years. Wonderland is also the best place to unwind after a long night.

Best hangover food: A cheeseburger or Pho Tay Do.

Most underrated and overrated drinks: Underrated: the Vesper doesn't get enough love. I replace the vodka with Belle Isle Black Label, and the gin should be the Botanist. Overrated — the extra dirty vodka martini. I think people should drink what they like, so I'm not bashing folks who order this, but try it dry with a quality gin and a lemon twist and you'll never look back.

Trend you're tired of: Industry snobbery. Let's all be humble, ladies and gentlemen.

New ingredient or liquor you're experimenting with: We're about to release our Belle Isle Blood Orange Moonshine, so I've been playing around with that a ton.

  • Scott Elmquist

Sophia Kim

Favorite after-work drink spot: The Jasper, Heritage, Bamboo.
Go-to neighborhood joint: Mamma 'Zu is always such an incredible dinner. I love the shrimp and artichoke, roasted red peppers with bufala mozzarella and anchovy, tuna entree, and spaghetti all'Amatriciana.

Best hangover food: Hands down, a big bowl of soup from Pho Tay Do or Pho So 1

Most underrated and overrated drinks: Underrated: Margarita. A super-dry one using only dry curaçao as the sweetener is so refreshing and perfect in the summer. Overrated: I honestly can't think of one. It is always hard for me to pick favorites and even harder to pick the opposite. I feel that every drink has its place and time.

Trend you're tired of: The idea that a bartender must look or act a certain way.

New ingredient or liquor you're experimenting with: I am really into Singani these days. It is a Bolivian spirit, and the expression from Rujero is especially floral and a true delight.


  • Scott Elmquist

David Weaver
Capital Ale House

Favorite after-work drink spot: Funny enough, most of my co-workers and I enjoy hanging out at our Capital Ale House in Innsbrook. Our regulars are like family, and we love to hang out with them on our patio.

Go-to neighborhood joint: Sidewalk Cafe all the way. It is the definition of a perfect corner bar.

Best hangover food: A No. 1 from Chick-fil-A with a large Coke. It's just a nice, slightly greasy chicken sandwich with fries, and it hits the spot when I am feeling rough in the morning.

Most underrated and overrated drinks: Most underrated would have to be a simple gin and tonic. No one seems to have any love for gin anymore, but when you use the right gin and do not overpour the tonic, you will have one of the best drinks any bar has to offer. I feel the most overrated drink would have to be a mojito. I am not saying a mojito is a bad drink, but there are tons of other refreshing drinks that I enjoy more.

Trend you're tired of: Casual bars with overly complicated drink menus. I absolutely love going to craft cocktail bars, but in high-volume bars they do not have the time to make three- to five-minute cocktails. I would love to start seeing focus brought back to classic cocktails and drinks like Manhattans, gimlets, martinis, Cape Codders, and maybe a few simple house drinks that the bar has created themselves. With great ingredients, you can make simple, but outstanding beverages.

New ingredient or liquor you're experimenting with: I love mixing new cocktails with all of the Deep Eddy's flavored vodkas. Their vodka is all-natural and they drink incredibly clean. I have actually started to put a small amount of their grapefruit vodka in my margaritas, if the guest says they are OK with trying something different.