Sample a taste of history in Williamsburg, where distilleries, breweries, wineries, pubs, and restaurants are providing thirsty patrons with a thriving cocktail scene.
The Williamsburg Inn Social Terrace
You’ll find a spacious sipping space at The Social Terrace, with 7,000 square feet of elegant outdoor seating, at the Williamsburg Inn. In addition to the unique outdoor patio -- an extension to the inn’s main lobby -- what sets The Social Terrace apart is its signature, barrel-aged cocktails. Currently, you can enjoy a barrel-aged Manhattan made with Four Roses bourbon and Carpano Antica vermouth as well as a barrel-aged Negroni. Both have become top sellers at the Inn since they started the barrel-aged cocktail program. Inn Sommelier Rich Gerardo said they hope to be adding more to the list very soon.
Gerardo added, “I think what sets us apart from other places around town is the inn itself. Everything from the historic charm of the main lobby to the newly remodeled Social Terrace with its unbeatable view of the golf course offers something for everyone. Combine that with a hand-crafted cocktail program and live entertainment on the weekends and you’ve got yourself the makings of a good time!”
Amber Ox Public House
The Amber Ox Public House is Williamsburg’s only brewpub. Enjoy a small-batch artisan ale brewed on-site and pair it with their smoked brisket and a spicy tomato chowchow. Amber Ox also offers a great selection of local craft spirits, wines, and refined Southern fare.
The Hound’s Tale Corner BARkery
It’s all about the variety of offerings at The Hound’s Tale Corner BARkery. Monique Sowell, catering coordinator and general manager, told TravelAwaits, “We are extremely good at making uniqueness occur in everything. From our drinks and food to our decor. We try to do something different and fun so every time you come to The Hound's Tale and The Hound's Tale Corner BARkery you are having an experience. From our spiked slushies to our adult milkshakes we really do aim for fun, friendly, new, and exciting at every turn.”
The head bartender, Diane Wade, has over 20 years of experience in making signature cocktails. Her passion fuels her creativity. She honors the classic cocktails with her own twist. Wade asked, "How many times have you seen a cocktail list and think to yourself, those sound amazing and delicious, only to be disappointed because of poor execution?” and went on to say, “I don't want that to happen. I make cocktails that I would enjoy."
Williamsburg Winery At Wessex Hundred
Get ready for 40 acres of breathtaking vineyards, a boutique hotel, an on-site garden, and two restaurants at the Williamsburg Winery. More than just a winery, it’s considered a wine and culinary destination located on the Wessex Hundred, a 300-acre farm.
They offer tours and tastings tailored to the wine enthusiast. One new tour is the Virginia Wine Experience Tour and Tasting. This 80-minute tour costs just $19 per person and is designed for the individual, couple, or friend group who wants to learn more about Virginia wine. You’ll visit the vineyard and crush pad, take an educational tour of the cellar and learn about the early history of the Virginia wine industry, plus the differences between the various grape-growing regions in the commonwealth.
After the tour, you’ll taste seven wines that represent the grape-growing regions introduced on the tour. You’ll receive a souvenir etched tasting glass and lunch at the Gabriel Archer Tavern, or you can opt for a three-course dinner at the Cafe Provencal for an additional charge.
Le Yaca French Restaurant
Le Yaca is one of the top restaurant destinations in Virginia and a long-standing favorite in historic Williamsburg. Chef Daniel Abid said, “One of the reasons we are one of the best places for cocktails is the beauty of our terrace and bar area! We made top-100 Romantic restaurant in America on Open Table this past year. We also give a very fair drink as our pours are two ounces here and no one else as far as I have been able to discover does [that]. The normal pour is one and a half to one and three quarters.”
He went on to say, “We have your usual drinks and then we have some cocktails we designed ourselves, like the Ruby Red with a champagne ball that is wonderful. I have had guests ask for the recipe many times, which I actually do not give out as it is unusual. We use quality ingredients here at Le Yaca. We also have a really extensive variety of different alcohols.”
The Cannon Tap Room At Brass Cannon Brewery
At the Cannon Tap Room at Brass Cannon Brewery, in addition to its five year-round brews, you can choose from four rotating seasonal selections and a frequently rotating line of small batch beers. Enjoy samples in the tasting room or on the outdoor patio.
As the craft beer market changes, the staff at Brass Cannon Brewery works to stay current with innovations like their “can-to-go,” a machine operated system that allows you to get your favorite brew canned on the spot so you can take it with you. They’ve expanded from six taps to 12 -- half of which are reserved for small batches.
Blue Talon Bistro
The Blue Talon Bistro opened in 2004 on Prince George Street in Williamsburg’s historic downtown. Reverence for the historic aspects of the area is part of the appeal. Blue Talon owner and manager Adam Steely told TravelAwaits, “We -- along with chef and owner David Everett -- have approached the concept of mixed drinks and cocktails with a fair amount of reverence for our history. As a wine aficionado first and foremost, I have spent decades honing an appreciation for how really great beverages taste and how they impact your meals and your mood. We look at the ‘golden age’ of cocktails, roughly a century or so ago and realize that, while Europeans were able to reach out to Italy, France, Germany, and Portugal for great wine products, the upper echelons of American society had no such access.”
Steely explained that Americans in search of an elevated drinking experience “turned to the top bartenders in the major metropolitan areas, and those individuals were challenged to earn their repeat business by providing beverages that rose to the level of expectation of the wealthy patrons.”
Blue Talon Bistro starts there -- “looking at cocktails that provide a balanced profile and take advantage of the somewhat esoteric collection of European spirits, liqueurs, and eau-de-vies that we have collected over the last 15 years. We take apart the original recipe and examine the pieces to see if we have access to something fantastic that is an upgrade from what the creator had available a century ago. If we can tweak it in that way, we will experiment with a couple dozen iterations of the drink until we are happy that the balance and profile are correct. I will confess, while we have made our own bitters, we are not a hot spot for tons of artisanal steeping, smoking, extracting, et cetera.”
Steely’s position? “Our efforts are best focused on customer satisfaction and continuity,” which means a delicious drink whatever day of the week you find yourself in Williamsburg.
Copper Fox Distillery
Sample award-winning craft whiskies and gin at Copper Fox Distillery, which leverages hand-malted locally grown barley, uniquely smoked and aged with American fruitwoods. The Copper Fox Distillery is the only distillery to mature their whisky with toasted Applewood. This process results in a “complex and singular flavor experience.”
Take a free tour or enjoy tastings and specialty cocktails for a fee. On the tour you’ll see how Copper Fox malts barley and smokes grain, plus all the other steps that go into creating their spirits.
Center Street Grill
The Center Street Grill is a casual dining establishment located in New Town Williamsburg that serves American cuisine with a twist. Jacx Ramos, owner, said, “I think what makes us one of the best places to get a cocktail in Williamsburg is because we are like Cheers. We make sure we know who you are, what you like, and that you want to come back. We have a strong network of regulars who everybody speaks to with a warm greeting when they arrive. We make sure everybody feels welcome.”
Ramos said patrons see Center Street Grill as a second home. “We have a beautiful spacious bar as well as a patio that seats about 50. We also have live music on the weekend, which is an added bonus. We have been in New Town for 14 years for a reason. We take care of the people that walk through our doors like family. We enjoy what we do and we hope it shows.”
Eight Shires Coloniale Distillery
This micro-distillery handcrafts its award-winning spirits using 18th-century recipes and techniques. Eight Shires Coloniale Distillery rum and gin are made of Virginia grains and grade-A molasses. Learn about the history behind the distilling process during one of their tours. The free tours include a sample of your spirit of choice -- Genever Gin, Silver Rum, or Thorpe’s Original. You’ll be educated on the colonial distillation process and the role it played throughout history, plus why it’s still relevant today.
Voted one of the 100 Best Restaurants for Foodies in America, you’ll find an unpretentious upscale dining room and high-energy bar at Fat Canary. You’ll find a contemporary bistro setting with an open kitchen. The menu reflects executive chef Thomas Power's diverse regional and ethnic experiences in New Orleans, southern California, Hawaii, and North Carolina.
Choose one of Fat Canary’s unique cocktails, like the Fig Shrub Old Fashion with Knob Creek, fig, citrus, balsamic, maple, and a splash of soda, or enjoy one of the wines from their extensive menu or ever-changing by-the-glass program.