September #VaSpiritsMonth Tastemaker: Paul Kirk of Rappahannock Restaurant, Richmond

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by Amy Ciarametaro

If you’re in RVA’s up-and-coming Arts District during September #VaSpiritsMonth, make sure to stop by Rappahannock Restaurant and ask Paul Kirk for the Hedgeman’s Reviver! You can also try your hand at prepping this tipple at home with the below recipe:

Hedgeman’s Reviver, featuring James River Distillery’s Øster Vit
Chilled Coupe glass
1½ oz. James River Distillery Øster Vit (Aquavit)
½ oz. Cointreau
½ oz. Lemon Juice
½ oz. Cocchi Americano

Combine ingredients in shaker tin, add ice and shake vigorously for approximately 8-12 seconds. After shaking, rinse coupe glass with dash of absinthe, and discard. Double strain the shaken cocktail into the chilled absinthe rinsed glass. Garnish with lemon twist and a fresh sprig of dill.

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Paul Kirk

Paul Kirk is the rockstar Bar Manager for Richmond’s very own Rappahannock Restaurant. When he’s not busy cameoing on PBS’s Mobile Feast with Chef Dylan Fultineer, he can be found whipping up cocktails and concoctions utilizing local ingredients for juices and syrups behind the bar at one of Esquire Magazine’s “Best New Restaurants in America.”

Rappahannock_Interior_aIf you’re a devoted ostreaphile like me, then plan to stop by Rappahannock Restaurant to sip on the Hedgeman’s Reviver, and sample a mix of buttery Rappahannocks, mildly briny Stingrays and bold ocean Olde Salts (oysters). Øster Vit is the spirit used in Paul’s cocktail and is produced by James River Distillery. It’s Virginia’s take on an Aquavit, which is traditional Scandinavian spirit meaning “water of life.” The distillate is steeped in oyster shells along with several other botanicals before its final distillation, making it the perfect cocktail component to accompany fresh oysters.

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Rappahannock Restaurant is owned and operated by Travis and Ryan Croxton, the cousins behind Rappahannock River Oyster Co. (@RROysters). These guys have done their part to resurrect the native Bay oyster and more recently Chesapeake scallops. It’s no wonder their team moves to the beat of the local drum. Paul chimed in saying, “Virginia has so much to offer due to its vast geographic, lush landscape, from the mountains to the shores. We have all the necessary ingredients for a great food and drinks community. Chef Dylan Fultineer creates menus that bring out the best in both oysters and seasonal, regional ingredients at Rappahannock. Stop by and see for yourself.

Chef Dylan Fultineer

Chef Dylan Fultineer

Here’s a few of the many #VaSpirits that you can find behind the bar at Rappahannock Restaurant:
• James River Distillery Commonwealth Gin
• James River Distillery Continental Gin
• James River Distillery UA Navy Strength Gin
• James River Distillery Øster Vit
• Virginia Distillery Co. Virginia Highland Malt Whisky
• And more!


*Rapid Fire with Paul Kirk of Rappahannock Restaurant*

#VaSpirits: Give us a glimpse of your daily routine.

Paul: No set morning rituals. I drink more coffee at work than anywhere else. As far as bars go, I typically stick in the Fan [District of Richmond]. So Helens, Bamboo, Sabai. Also if I’m closer downtown, I’ll hit up Saison, Gwarbar, or My Noodle & Bar. I am a bit of a night owl, so you can pretty much see me anywhere.

#VaSpirits: When you’re not behind the bar, what do you enjoy doing?

Paul: I always have the bar on my mind. I read a lot about the history of cocktails and spirits. I’m also constantly mulling over ingredients and cocktail ideas in my head. Among other things, however, I have taken an interest in photography and I am also an active musician.

#VaSpirits: When you’re not drinking Virginia spirits, what do you enjoy drinking and why?

Paul: I’m not too picky. A good rum or whiskey will always do. Gin is a go-to for cocktails, but even just a few cold beers and a shot will satisfy me.


For more information on Rappahannock Restaurant, visit their website or follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Photo credit: Jay Paul & Rappahannock Restaurant