When word comes through that a restaurant in town has changed up their drink menu I make it my business to take a looksee. Yesterday I had the pleasure of trying 3 of the recently debuted cocktails at one of my most favorite places in RVA to enjoy an adult beverage, Lemaire at The Jefferson Hotel. Bar manager Scott Harris welcomed me with a plate of pimento cheese and I wasted no time getting to know the menu.
The new cocktail list features refined classics with an emphasis on exploring flavor. The most notable addition is a “Create Your Own Manhattan” feature where you can spend lots of time (and money if you are inclined) marrying numerous bourbons to vermouth and bitters. And I plan to.
Below are the three drinks I had of the 10 on the new list, 5 served up, 5 over ice.
Gator’s Ghost- Cathead vodka, Cointreau, Aperol, fresh juices, house made ginger beer
Named for the storied Jefferson alligator, it is lively and has a pleasant zing from the ginger beer. Quite delicious and it goes down very easily (blame it on the A-A-A-A-A-Aperol).
Shady Grove- Virginia bourbon, house spiced cider and sorghum.
Citrus cuts the syrupy sweet sorghum and hints of cardamom and anise come through on the cider. An apple pie love letter to Virginia, it is already very popular with guests.
Monument and Boulevardier- Bulleit Rye whiskey, Carpano Antica, Byrrh
This was my favorite of the three as the Boulevardier (which is a Negroni with a Southern identity crisis) is dear to my heart and liver. The addition of the French amaro Byrrh brings some woodsy, bitter-fruit depth. I’d like nominate it to be Richmond’s signature cocktail.
That is where I had to stop but tomorrow is another day and there was a rum Old Fashioned I had my eye on….