The Belle & James Whoville Cordial
Santa may prefer cookies and milk, but he’s not the only one to please. A home bar stocked with locally made libations can roll out yuletide cheer faster than you can say “ho, ho, ho.” Here are our picks for the best Virginia-made spirits, plus a cocktail recipe from new restaurant and bar Belle & James.
Cirrus Vodka, $28 per 750 ml
Chances are, someone you’re hosting is grain sensitive. Made from potatoes, this undeniably smooth vodka registers gluten-free. Sip it straight, or if you’d prefer cutting it, add a spoonful of RVA-made Texas Beach Bloody Mary Mix to your glass.
Commonwealth Navy Strength Gin, $34.19 per 750 ml
This bold, juniper-meets-coriander liquor is the Christmas-tree-scented gin of your dreams, with hints of cardamom and orange peel. Only the best mixer should dilute this 114-proof knockout, so skip mass-market products and pick up house-made tonic from Heritage restaurant instead.
Belle Isle Craft Spirits Honey Habanero Moonshine, $25 per 750 ml
This white lightening’s rollicking bite keeps fine company with the Florida orange Santa left in the toe of your stocking. Sip the chilled ’shine, then suck the sliced orange to keep your holidays humming.
Reservoir Distillery Bourbon Whiskey, $42.19 per 375 ml
Serve neat to catch the Christmas spices — vanilla, clove, cola and cinnamon — and the charred American oak barrels they mature in. If you must mix, wave a bottle of Keep it Simple Syrup Spearmint over your ice cube before dusting the drink with powdered sugar “snow.”
Virginia Highland Malt Whisky, $57.49 per 750 ml
Savor this Scottish Highland malt whiskey, aged here in Lovingston, so you can appreciate the Virginia port-style wine barrels from King Family Vineyards that age it and impart chewy dried fruit flavors to the whiskey’s spicy, toffee-wrapped tones.
Belle & James' Whoville Cordial
1 1/2 ounces of Cirrus Vodka
1/2 ounce of St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1 ounce of apple cider
1 ounce of cranberry sauce
Add all ingredients to an ice-filled shaker tin, shake vigorously, and then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.