BETH DIXON: BEHIND THE BAR

beth&ellie

photo by Sam Dixon

I’ve mentioned Beth on the blog before, but while interviewing her for the guest posts I’m doing for the Southern Foodways Alliance,
I learned so many interesting things about my fave female drink slinger that I wanted to share.

Are you originally from Richmond, where did you grow up?

I grew up in Hanover County on a historic 550-acre plantation owned by my father’s family. I spent most of my childhood helping to restore the house and then we would garden in the spring. The house had a gorgeous traditional English Garden that my great-grandmother was famous for on the local garden tours. I have lived in Richmond for almost 12 years now, 8 of them in my home in the city’s Northside.

Where do you work?

I have been working at Pasture since they opened and feel very attached to the restaurant. Working with Jason and Michele has only helped me hone my skills and grow confidence in my craft. The opening of Pasture has helped immensely in helping bring back a beautiful, but vacant area downtown. My friends Owen and Tiffany Lane own a fantastic little Gastropub- The Magpie, in another community that has been experiencing a revitalization recently, Carver. I work there as a cocktail consultant and I tend bar there once a week.

How long have you been working in the food and beverage industry?

12 loooooooonnnnngggg years! I have often fought it as a long-term source of employment. I even sold real estate for 4 years but could never let go of bartending.

Can you tell me a bit about how you started homesteading?

I did have some experience with aspects of homesteading in my childhood and I had a small garden with my roommates, while living the life of a 20 something with no real responsibilities. Then I got pregnant at 26. This led to researching nutrition and birth options, which led to a healthier diet. My daughter Ellie’s father was already obsessed with gardening and had built an intense edible garden in his previous home. Cindy Conner, mentored him. Anyhow, our daughter is the big inspiration to turn the house into a homestead. We don’t trust the food industry as it stands. The only way we can afford to feed our family quality, delicious, organic food is to grow it ourselves. Whatever is left over, I can it or gift it to our neighbors. I have a shelf in my kitchen, just to display all the things I make, next to all my canning and preserving books. They are my trophies.

bethgarden1

photo by Sam Dixon

Artichoke

photo by Sam Dixon



Can you talk about the RVA swappers and how that came to be?

RVA Swappers is a food-swapping group that meets once a month. Basically, you bring 6 of whatever you make: jam, pickles, baked goods, infused syrups, homegrown greens, etc. Five are for swapping and 1 for everyone to taste. We have done about 7 swaps now and have new people come every time. It’s a great way to meet other people who are into homesteading. We always try to meet at places that support the community, especially the food community. This woman was having drinks at Pasture one night and we started to talk about canning. She had been a member of BK Swappers in NYC and wanted to start one here in Richmond. That’s how I met the co-founder of RVA Swappers, Andrea Buono. We are 7 events in and it keeps growing.

What inspires your beverage creations?

Often my drinks are inspired by whatever I have on hand and what is in season. I definitely use a lot of fresh herbs and fruit, but I am a frugal person by nature so I try to use things that may otherwise go wasted first. At the Magpie, I was very inspired by the Victorian look and feel of the place. I researched Victorian era cocktails and created the menu based on classic cocktails with my own little twists. At home when we entertain, my friends are always at my will! I make rounds of cocktails using- parsley, lemon and gin or tequila, chipotle, lime & cilantro…

The Madison by Beth Dixon

This is Beth’s recipe for a Madison, named for Madison County, VA.
1 ½ oz.bourbon
1 oz fresh strawberry syrup*
½ oz lemon juice
couple dashes Fee Bros. Walnut bitters

Put all ingredients into a shaker, shake and pour over ice. Top with a splash of soda, garnish with a lemon twist.

*strawberry simple syrup recipe
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
1/2 pound strawberries, washed,hulled and sliced
Bring sugar and water to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Reduce
the heat and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved 5
minutes. Add strawberries and simmer 10 minutes
Remove from the heat and let cool. Strain syrup and discard solids.
Transfer to a lidded container and keep in the fridge for up to two
weeks.

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