Like the mighty James River that flows right through its heart, Richmond, Virginia, is flooded with dozens of diverse beverage producers that ensure the city stays well hydrated. From craft coffee roasters and a moonshine distillery to a bevy of breweries, here’s how to drink your way through Virginia’s capital city in 24 hours.
Photo courtesy of Quirk
Start the day in true genteel Southern style by double-fisting—with a coffee in one hand and a bloody Mary in the other at Quirk Hotel’s Maple & Pine restaurant. The coffee: a rich custom blend with notes of honey, nectarine, graham cracker, and sage created just for Quirk by Richmond roasters Blanchard’s. The bloody: a spicy combo of Sobieski vodka and housemade mix. Pair it with buttermilk biscuits topped with sausage gravy to fuel up for the day, or mosey around the corner to Perly’s for a bagel to-go if you want something lighter.
Photo courtesy of The Veil
You could head toward the river to Stone Brewing’s massive East Coast facility, or go north toward local favorite Hardywood Brewery. But to fit in as much beer as you can, hop in the car (or an Uber) and make a beeline to Scott’s Addition. The industrial neighborhood may not be Richmond’s prettiest, but it can claim the highest concentration of breweries within a walkable area. Start at Ardent Craft Ales and grab lunch from a food truck—it’s a good day if Mean Bird’s fried chicken truck is parked outside. Sip an Earl Grey Brown Ale in the beer garden before heading to The Veil Brewing Co., a spot that’s been known to draw beer geeks from Washington, D.C. and beyond for their popular weekly can releases. Thirsty for more beer? Isley Brewing Company and Three Notch’d Brewing Company are also in the ’hood if you want a different vibe.
Photo courtesy of Buskey Cider
For a slight change of pace (but still in the same family), switch to cider. Blue Bee Cider, the state’s first urban cidery, opened a new facility last year in a renovated horse stable. There’s a tasting room and a sunny courtyard where you can sip unique blends like the hops-infused Hopsap Shandy and the Red Hots-reminiscent Firecracker. Around the corner, Buskey Cider is in an old train car loading building; try their recently released canned RVA Cider.
After a quick power nap, work your way over to Heritage, an acclaimed family-run restaurant in the historic Fan neighborhood. You’d be missing out if you didn’t try some of the seasonal nouveau-Southern cuisine—like the housemade charcuterie or chicken liver paté—but you know why you’re really here: for the booze. Barkeep Tim Quinn keeps the bar stocked with plenty of Virginia-made options, from beer and cider to liquor. Order the Ragnar’s Ruin, which is made with James River Distillery’s unique Oster Vit, a Virginia take on Scandinavian spirit aquavit that’s made with oyster shells from the Chesapeake Bay. Craving something stronger? It’s probably not advisable at this point in the night, but you could also try the Melody Day, which is made with Belle Isle ruby red grapefruit moonshine, crème de cassis, elderflower, lemon, and bubbly. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
If you’re opposed to ending your evening on an upscale note, head to a uniquely Richmond bar where you’ll find (fake) bloodstains on the floor and a chef named Balsac. GWARbar is owned by GWAR guitarist Michael Derks, a.k.a. Balsac the Jaws of Death. (Fun fact: the outrageous metal band formed in Richmond in 1984.) Wind down with a glass of GWAR Blood, an amber ale made by local Strangeways Brewing. And if you’re still hungry? Finish off the night with something from their late-night menu, like Nachos Destructo or Chicken McDuckgets. Just don’t stay out too late—there’s plenty more to drink tomorrow.
Paste’s Airbnb columnist Erica Jackson Curran is a former alt-weekly editor turned moonlight freelancer based in Richmond, Virginia.