Seven Sizzling Summer Sips from Hampton Roads Hottest Bartenders

Some of HR's hottest bartenders help us cool off with their favorite seasonal cocktails.

A cocktail is simply defined as an alcoholic beverage mixed with other ingedients. That's an oversimplified definition that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. And a wedge of lime. And a shot of tequila.

Cocktails kick off meals as an aperitif and conclude meals as a digestif. They also enhance meals throughout and stand alone at parties, maybe simply paired with some light hors d’oeuvres. Cocktails seal deals and serve as the punctuation points on deals-well-done.

They mark seasons and time—it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, and that’s where someone is raising a glass. And who could imagine the holidays without eggnog?

Likewise, who could imagine summer without an imbibe—or two—on sultry days to help cool off?

We asked seven of the region’s hottest bartenders to get us ready for the hazy, hot and humid months ahead by sharing a tale of their favorite cocktail. Bottoms up!

Rob Asbury Bar Manager – Todd Jurich’s Bistro, Norfolk 757-622-3210;

Asbury has been bartending for more than 20 years. “I like to do a lot of retro drinks, such as Zombies, Mai Tais, Bahama Mammas, Old Fashioneds and Long Island Iced Teas.”

Melon Infusion. “I collaborated with Chef de Cuisine Kenny Scott, and we wanted to work with fresh produce that is available in the summer.”

Juice watermelon and tomato and add a little bit of simple syrup and salt, depending on taste. In a tall glass, muddle chilies and fresh basil, add ice and a shot of Myer’s Dark Rum, then the juice mixture. Garnish with fresh melon cube, cherry tomato and a basil sprig on a sugar cane skewer.

Smith Cubine Bartender – Catch 31 at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront; The NorVa, Norfolk 757-213-3473; 757-627-4547;

Cubine has been bartending for 20 years. “My favorite thing about bartending is interacting with different people from all walks of life.” For summer imbibing, Cubine favors margaritas and rum runners.

Whipped Creamsicle. “It is a perfect drink for summer because it is sweet and tropical and not too heavy.”

Fill a rocks glass with ice, pour 1-1/2 ounces Pinnacle Whipped Cream vodka over the ice, add a splash of ginger ale and 1 ounce orange juice. Garnish with an orange slice.

Erika Caylor Bar Manager/Mixologist – Terrapin Restaurant, Virginia Beach 757-321-6688;

Caylor has been bartending for 15 years. “I love getting to be creative first and foremost.” Caylor has a personal passion for ginger in her drinks.

Pungo Pirate. “It’s fruity and refreshing and just looks like summer.”

Create a cinnamon syrup by adding 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 3 cinnamon sticks to a saucepan, bringing to a boil, removing from heat and allowing to steep until the desired flavor is reached. In a tall glass, muddle 3 sliced, ripe strawberries and 1 ounce cinnamon syrup together. Fill glass with ice, add 2 ounces of spiced rum and top with 3 ounces of ginger ale; garnish with a ripe strawberry.

Karl Dornemann Co-owner – Still Worldly Eclectic Tapas, Portsmouth; Bardo Edibles & Elixirs, Norfolk; the soon-to-open The Public House, Norfolk 757-332-7222; 757-622-7362;

Dornemann’s platform is bartending, and he has been at it for more than 20 years. “[My favorite thing is] my love for what people are drinking and how those drinks are created and presented.”

Fainéant Cocktail. “As the name implies, a lazy day drink. Cold, refreshing, and insisting that we don’t take life too seriously.”

In a Collins glass, muddle 3 large-size slices of English cucumber and 1/4 teaspoon lavender honey. Fill the glass with ice and add 2 ounces of Hendricks gin, 6 ounces of Fentiman’s Ginger Beer and 3 dashes of lavender bitters. Flip the contents of the glass several times using another empty glass until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Try This At Home
Sage advice on mixing it up in your corner of the world.

“[You] should just be willing to taste, try (and) do fun things.” —Rob Asbury

“Find a recipe you like and then tweak it to make it your own. Then, as you get to know what goes well together, venture out on your own. Research is a must.” —Erika Caylor

“Amateur mixologists should have some kind of liquor measurement device such as a jigger for their liquor so they don’t put too much or too little in their drinks.” —Smith Cubine

“Start with good, clean ice. Always use the best ingredients—the best are not always the most expensive, and more times than not, are certainly not the easiest to find or use.” —Karl Dornemann

“A good glass, cubed ice, shaker and fresh ingredients [are must-haves for the home bar].” —Joey Habr

“Every bottle tells a story. Purchase wine or spirits that bring back fond memories. I use to live on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, so I have Cruzan rum in my house.” —Andrew Hyatt

“Find what liquors and liqueurs you really enjoy and experiment. [Also] have fun with what you drink. Be your own bartender and you’ll always make great drinks.” —Bert Lowry

****For the rest of this article, see the May/June 2011 issue of Hampton Roads Magazine.****

Categories: Restaurants & Food