America’s first taverns were known as “ordinaries,” and by the 1640s, colonists all across Virginia publicly gathered for their daily dose of spirits (considered one of the safest beverages while drinking water was contaminated). We’ve come a long way since then – to countless, inventive restaurants with a lively scene that begins at the bar. 

We sat down with Karen Negvesky, owner and bar manager at Sincero – one of the hottest new restaurants in Richmond, for a conversation about the path to owning and operating a bar, what local spirits you might find at the restaurant and tips to mastering the art of the cocktail. 

How did you make your way onto the bartending scene?

I started working in restaurants when I dropped out of college, hoping to get a foot in the door of the hospitality industry. Since 2015, I’ve now worked every front-of-house position, dabbled in kitchen work for some time, and even found myself working on a farm that supplied most of the produce to those restaurants. The bar has always been where I find myself most excited to create things and play with flavors. 

What local bottles can you find at Sincero?

I don’t have a wide selection of local spirits on our bar at the moment, as we find most of our drinks are based with tequila, mezcal or rum. But we always have a few selections from Virago on the back bar. Definitely one of my favorite local distilleries!

bar at Sincero

For amateur mixologists or home bar enthusiasts, what are the makings of a good cocktail?

My favorite thing about making drinks at home is that there aren’t any rules! I think a “good” cocktail is what you personally find delicious. BUT, starting with a cocktail recipe you like and swapping the main spirit or another ingredient is a great way to play with flavors. When in doubt, you can also always follow 2 (spirit) : 1 (sweet) : 1 (sour) – you’ll always get something good. 

How do you keep up with the latest mixology trends?

Social media always lets me know what’s popular, but I definitely pick and choose which trends to partake in especially when it comes to building the menu and pairing with food.

If you were a cocktail, what would you be and why? Bonus points for the recipe!

I’d totally be a banana daiquiri! I’m a summer gal through and through. One of my favorite things is sitting in the sunshine in mid-July with a book and a cold cocktail. A daiquiri always hits that perfect sweet, bitter, fruity mark for me. And throw in a little Jamaican rum to make it a little more funky and fun!

  • 1.5 oz Virago white rum
  • 0.5 oz Plantation Xaymaca
  • 0.75 oz Giffard banane de bresil 
  • 1.0 oz lime juice


Drop by Sincero to see Karen and get a delicious cocktail! And while you’re there, ask for Virginia-made. 

Virginia Spirits is for lovers. There’s no better way to mark the special occasion of Valentine’s Day than toasting with a glass filled with locally produced, quality spirits. 

From recognizing your partner’s fascination with the distilling process and supporting local to sampling and sipping all around the Commonwealth, here are three ways to incorporate Virginia spirits into your Valentine’s Day celebrations. 

Love for the Craft

For the spirits’ enthusiast in your life, the dedicated time, careful attention and small-batch approach to Virginia spirits is something to admire. So much heart and soul is poured into crafting each bottle made in the Commonwealth. 

Seek out and gift the good stuff – special reserves only available at the distillery, hand-signed bottles from the distiller who crafted it, new releases, etc. – to show your special person (who just so happens to be a spirits nerd) that you care and understand their love for the craft. 

Love at First Sip

The best Valentine’s Day celebrations and romantic dinners involve smooth, dreamy libations. Whether you’re making a special dinner for the one you love, having your girlfriends over for a rom-com movie marathon or toasting to yourself, Virginia spirits have you covered. 

Check out these sweet, sippable cocktails: 

Even if food is the star of the show, handcrafted spirits will only enhance the evening. Here are some pairing suggestions for this day of love: 

  • Oysters + Gimlets (Gin)
  • Charcuterie + Brandy
  • Steak + Old Fashioned or Whiskey Sour
  • Chocolate + Straight Sippers: While there are cocktails that incorporate and support the indulgence of chocolate, we recommend keeping it simple. Overall, bourbon – with smooth, caramel notes coming from new charred oak barrels – is ideal for a variety of chocolates. Other ideas include:
    • Milk Chocolate + Rum
    • Nutty Chocolate + Rye Whiskey
    • White Chocolate + Gin
  • Any Dessert + Espresso Martini (Vodka, Coffee Liqueur)

We promise, it’ll be love at first sip!

Love is an Adventure

If your significant other is one for adventures, Virginia spirits can offer just that. From special events to a winding trail of exploration, 70+ Virginia distilleries wait to host you this Valentine’s Day. 

There are events all month long to shower your person with the love (and spirits) they deserve: 

Hoping for something more unique and intimate for the two of you? Use the itinerary feature to plan a day or weekend getaway to a region of your choosing. We even have a comprehensive guide on trips to the Virginia Mountains, Shenandoah Valley, Southwest Virginia and Southern Virginia regions. 

And… earn points for visiting! The Virginia Spirits Passport is a mobile pass that allows you to redeem those points for prizes like cocktail ingredients, swag and special sweepstakes. On Valentine’s Day (2/14), we’re offering double the points – which means double the opportunity for prizes. 

For all the romantic vibes this holiday, we can’t get enough of these tasting rooms: 

At the end of the day, love is an adventure – and traversing through one of Virginia’s seven distinct distilling regions is a memorable expression of that love.

If you can’t make it out to a distillery, shop Virginia spirits at a Virginia ABC store near you. Sip responsibly. 

It’s giving season, and what better way to share something delicious with friends and family (while supporting small businesses) than with a bottle of craft spirits made right here in Virginia! Read on to learn where and how to shop for local spirits this December and beyond. 

Make it an Experience

Distilleries can’t wait to host you in their tasting rooms! Sample before you buy and get to know the distiller and their products, so you can share a bottle with a story. This is often the best way to see a distillery’s full product list, including specialty, small-batch bottles only available at the distillery. Many also have online ordering and shipping available. Visit our Virginia Spirits Trail for quick links to distillery websites and online shops.

Another alternative, Virginia ABC stores carry a wide catalog of curated spirits. With stores all over the Commonwealth, look for the “Virginia Made” section and find your next favorite bottle. If you can’t find the exact craft spirit you’re looking for, you can order online and have it shipped directly to your local store in 7-14 days. 

Discover the Latest Award Winners

If you’re unsure where to start, take expert or public opinion into consideration! Virginia distillers are award-winning and incredibly talented. Here’s just a few recent recognitions to help you decide on something special: 

Bundle for Craft Cocktails

cocktail with clear liquid and sprig of rosemary
Rosemary Rickey, courtesy of KO Distilling

Explore our cocktail page to find a delicious, personalized beverage for your loved ones. Purchase all the ingredients and print out the recipe for a thoughtful gift that inspires future get-togethers and memories. Here are some ideas for this winter season

Each holiday season, several local distilleries put together their own kits and bundles, too. Head to their website or check them out in tasting rooms or at Virginia ABC stores. 

Celebrate Local Artisans

One of the great things about the Virginia Spirits community is that most operations are small businesses and true “mom and pop shops.” When you visit, you get to know them and their story. Pick up your favorite bottle and ask for the distiller to sign it for a special touch. A great gift for the spirits fanatic in your life… a hand crafted bottle signed by the distiller who made it. 

Try Something Uniquely Virginia

Virginia bottles tell a story of the land and its crops, just as much as the producers behind it. All across the state, distillers are taking corn, rye, barley and many other ingredients right from their own backyard or from nearby farmers; turning these local crops into world-class spirits. 

Some are even using local methods to distill and finish their products – take, for example, Waterman Spirits who uses coral off the nearby coast to filter its organic line of vodka. 

Did you know Virginia distilleries produce more than 175 different types and styles of spirits? Visit our website and sort by spirit type if you have a specific Virginia Spirit in mind. Happy gift giving!