Thursday, March 14

RVA Eats: Meet Beth Dixon

Photo by Sam Dixon

Throughout the spring, Nicole Lang will be blogging for us about her adopted hometown of Richmond, Virginia (aka RVA). We've chosen Richmond as the site for this year's Summer Foodways Symposium, which will take place from June 20–23. (Tickets for this event will go on sale in early April; we'll be sure to keep you up to date on the details.)

Here in Richmond, we do enjoy a tipple or two. It is in that spirit (ha!) that I introduce you to Beth Dixon.

Photo by Sam Dixon

Beth tends bar at both Pasture and The Magpie. She's been working the watering holes of Richmond for the last 12 years. She grew up on a 550-acre historic plantation in nearby Hanover County. Inspired by the huge English garden at her childhood home, Beth now grows many of the ingredients for her cocktails in her backyard. She creates drink recipes with the weather and seasons in mind.

"I make cocktails using what is in my fridge, garden, and the liquor cabinet—pumpkin butter, rum and champagne, herbed syrup, lemon balm, blackberries—you get the idea," she says.

Beth is also co-founder of RVA Swappers, a group that meets once a month to exchange homegrown and/or homemade foods (Ed.'s note: See the photo of swapper-swag at the top of this post). The concept was created across a bar—"like most things in my life," Beth says—when she and a customer discovered a mutual interest in canning. “I love it as a creative outlet that forces me to make a big batch of something once a month," she adds. For instance, lucky attendees at a recent RVA Swappers event made off with Beth's homemade pecan bitters.

Beth has not always loved restaurant work. “There used to be some shame associated with being in the food and beverage industry for life.” She recalls patrons asking her what she "really" did for a living, and she’d reply, “This!”

But today, “I feel like perceptions have changed over time and that servers, bartenders, and cooks are seen as skilled workers." Beth is excited by the growing restaurant community in Richmond. “There are so many passionate food industry professionals here who care, and yearn to educate their patrons about what is going on behind the bar and behind the pass."

For some behind-the-bar education of your own, try Beth’s recipe for a Lincoln. She served this drink at Pasture when a certain movie was filming in town.

Photo by Beth Dixon

The Lincoln
1 ½ oz. bourbon
3/4 oz Gran Gala (or other orange liqueur, like Grand Marnier)
splash of Sambuca
5 dashes Agnostura bitters

Put all ingredients into a shaker; shake, and pour over ice. Top with a splash of soda and garnish with a lemon twist.

You can follow Nicole Lang on Twitter at @NicoleLang.