It’s strawberry season! April to June is the peak time to purchase this sweet red fruit. Virginia Beach’s Pungo area is known for growing an abundance of strawberries, making the city the largest producer of strawberries in the state of Virginia.
“Virginia grows some of the most amazing strawberries. They are bigger and naturally sweeter,” said Kristyne Lotito, operations manager at Chesapeake Bay Distillery. “As a small Virginia Beach-based business, Chesapeake Bay Distillery is all about supporting local and sourcing local ingredients.”
With these seasonally celebrated berries ripe on the vine, transform them into a refreshing cocktail made with spirits from a local distillery, Chesapeake Bay Distillery. Typically, you can purchase these distilled spirits from Chesapeake Bay’s tasting room, located in the ViBe Creative District, or from your local Virginia ABC store. Virginia ABC has recently loosened regulations amid COVID-19, allowing Chesapeake Bay Distillery to ship their spirits to customers. The distillery is also offering $5 delivery to those in Virginia Beach.
According to Lotito, the Pungo Mule is a crowd favorite in the tasting room. “People are familiar with mules, so it’s a comfortable go-to, but with a twist,” she said. The Pungo Mule, made with the distillery’s Ghost Pepper Infused Vodka, balances well with the fresh strawberries, offering just enough heat.
7 mint leaves
8 oz ginger beer (Chesapeake Bay Distillery uses Goslin’s or Reed’s)
1.5 oz Blue Ridge Vodka
1.5 oz Ghost Pepper Infused Vodka
Splash of fresh squeeze lime juice
Muddle or purée strawberries and mint leaves. Add that combination, along with the Blue Ridge Vodka, Ghost Pepper Infused Vodka and splash of lime juice to a glass, over ice. Top with ginger beer and serve.
The Bri Berry can best be compared to a daiquiri, but not quite as sweet. The secret is in Chesapeake Bay’s Chick’s Beach rum, made with organic panela sugar—an unrefined raw sugar. The rum’s unique balance of flavors makes it one of Chris Richeson’s, owner and distiller at Chesapeake Bay Distillery, favorite spirits to produce.
7 oz cranberry juice
1 oz pineapple juice
5 oz Chick’s Beach Rum
1/2 oz simple syrup (Chesapeake Bay Distillery uses a 2:1 ratio of white sugar to water)
Over ice: Purée strawberries in the blender. Add strawberry purée, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, Chick’s Beach Rum and simple syrup (to taste) in a glass with ice. Shake or stir the ingredients together and serve. Frozen cocktail: Add frozen strawberries, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, Chick’s Beach Rum and simple syrup (to taste) in a blender. Blend until ingredients are combined and smooth then serve.
Strawberry Colada Smoothie
“Consider it a ‘healthy smoothie’ with a kick,” said Lotito. The Strawberry Colada Smoothie, also made with Chick’s Beach rum, uses a blend of frozen strawberries and fresh to make this chilled cocktail. If you can’t physically get to the beach, take your taste buds there when you blend this strawberry piña colada-inspired drink.
3-4 fresh or frozen strawberries
5.5 oz Piña Colada mix
3 oz Chick’s Beach Rum
Add ingredients in a blender. Blend until ingredients are combined and smooth. Add ice or more frozen strawberries to thicken the smoothie. Pour into a glass and serve.
Due to health and safety restrictions during coronavirus, local farms are unable to allow customers to come pick their own strawberries. Instead, many farms now offer curbside pick-up for orders placed in advance, following suit with many of the area’s local farm markets.
Click here to see a list of local farm markets that are still open during coronavirus.
Be sure to freeze any leftover strawberries to make these seasonal sips after strawberry season is over.