Tag Archives: cocktails

Gin(ger) Mule

Think of this Mint Gin(ger) Mule as a delicious liquid stress ball. Ginger beer’s subtle kick tickles the back of your throat while the fresh mint dulls gin’s bite. It’s simple enough to whip up after a long day at work, but we think it tastes best when slowly savored on a warm and lazy weekend afternoon.

Mint Gin(ger) Mule


1.5 oz Gin

1 oz lime

.5 oz simple syrup

7-8 leaves mint

Ginger beer


-Pour gin over ice into your glass. Add lime, simple syrup and a few mint leaves.

-Top off with ginger beer. Garnish with more mint leaves.

best when slowly savored Read more

Think of this Mint Gin(ger) Mule as a delicious liquid stress ball. Ginger beer’s subtle kick tickles the back of your throat ...

From Cocktail Zero to Cocktail Hero

I have always felt that there is something very smooth and sophisticated about having a drink and taking a moment to unwind and catch up on a days worth of activity. While Cocktail Hour was never part of my family’s routine growing up I have always been a fan of the three martini lunch and the idea of indulging in a cocktail before dinner, and it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or my children that one of my favorite parenting books has always been “The Three Martini Playdate.” Christie Mellor is a genius when she points out that “lemonade provides refreshment for those too young to appreciate distilled spirits, and the simple addition of a fine vodka creates an easily made and remarkably tasty beverage for an exhausted and grateful grown-up.”

Today, I drive waiters and waitresses (and occasionally those same children) crazy as I insist we sit and wait for our drinks before ordering our meals. ‘No–I’m definitely not ready to order yet. I want to have a drink well in hand before my dinner starts to arrive.’ By design, cocktails are meant to be lingered over, to be enjoyed and so what better time is there than Cocktail Hour to sit back, relax, and reflect on the day.

Newlyweds Bill and Suzy

I know what you’re thinking–how does one so easily transition from a quiet dreamer to a cocktail savant? It wasn’t easy. As newlyweds in the ‘80’s, cocktails weren’t as popular with our generation, and Bill and I were just learning to enjoy wines by the bottle instead of the box; most of the cocktails we had enjoyed had been purple and served from a large garbage can stirred with a paddle. Imagine my shock and delight when he came home from work one day with a brown bag. “What’s that?” I innocently asked. “Whiskey and Vermouth–tonight we start learning how to drink Manhattans.” And so the journey began. I hate to brag, but I think over the last 30 years we have perfected the art.

To those who are foolish enough to follow my personal Facebook page, I am notorious for my sunset cocktail photos on the beach. While it may be possible to enjoy a sunset without a drink in hand I’m not sure I ever want to experience it. When on vacation, it has become a daily game for Bill and me to find the perfect daily cocktail–something that is capable of capturing both the spirit of the day and the gorgeous backdrop of the setting sun.

Cocktails on the Beach

About 5 years ago travelling throughout Northern Italy–specifically Venice, Bossano di Grappa and Trieste–we started noticing everyone drinking a beautiful orange drink. Even as a self proclaimed Cocktail Aficionado, the olive in the bottom confused me–I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what orange liquor could be paired with an olive. I took one for the team, and so began our introduction to the Aperol Spritz: the 3-2-1 of drinks. 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Aperol and 1 part sparking water, served over ice with a bitter green olive. Now seen throughout Italy–more typically with an orange slice than the olive–you will find Aperol Spritz served winter, summer, spring and fall. It’s the perfect drink for any season and every occasion–not too light and certainly not to intense. A very drinkable cocktail any time of day.

Bill and Suzy with Spritz

And cocktails are back. Small craft distilleries are springing up around the city, around the country and around the world. And this time the focus is on creating the perfect sip with fresh squeezed juices and herbs, tonics without high fructose corn syrup. Creating sprits with different approaches and different flavors. Now more than ever is the time to experiment with cocktails.

At Via Umbria our commitment is to: All things Italian. All things artisanal. All things local. Our cocktail program is a perfect reflection of the three. Come rediscover the art of cocktail hour with us. Join us daily for Spritz O’Clock (5-7pm in our Cafe) and spend Saturdays discovering your new favorite cocktail or glass of wine. Pair that with our new menu of Spritz O’Clock Snacks and street foods and it’s the perfect way to relax, unwind, and enjoy an hour or two.

For us, Via Umbria is not just a store, it’s our story and we want you to be a part of it. Come on in and Discover Spritz O’clock with us. Savor a drink or two with us. Share the news with friends and family.


Cocktails are back Read more

I have always felt that there is something very smooth and sophisticated about having a drink and taking a moment to unwind ...

Spritz O’ Clock

When the clock strikes cocktails, know where to go! At Via Umbria, Spritz O’Clock is every cocktail connoisseur’s favorite time of day. Featuring local spirits from area distilleries, our daily happy hour offers the finest libations this side of the Potomac.

Wipe a long day away with a light, bright Aperol Spritz. Prosecco and an orange garnish give this Italian favorite a crisp, fruity finish. Request Campari in lieu of Aperol for bittersweet notes.

A classic Aperol Spritz. For a bittersweet finish, replace Aperol with Campari.
The Aperol Spritz debuted in Italy in the 1950’s, and has been a national favorite ever since.

Nurse a Negroni made with Green Hat Gin from New Columbia Distillers, the first craft distillery to open in Washington, DC. Gin aficionados will also savor our classic G & T, featuring Vigilant Gin from DC’s oldest-newest distillery, Jos. A. Magnus & Co. 

Invented in Florence in 1919, the Negroni is an Italian classic.
Rumor has it that the first Negroni was mixed in Florence in 1919 at the behest of Count Camillo Negroni.

Or, if you’re feeling old school, kick back with our timeless Manhattan, the grandfather of American cocktails. Our rendition sings with a healthy dose of award-winning Roundstone Rye by Catoctin Creek Distillery, the first distillery in Loudon County since Prohibition, and a splash of Capitoline Sweet Rose Vermouth, jointly produced by New Columbia Distillers and Etto Restaurant. An elegant Luxardo maraschino cherry adds the finishing touch.

Whether shaken or stirred, even Mr. Bond would agree that our martini is to die for. This quintessential cocktail derives its smoothness from Royal Seal Vodka, another Jos. A. Magnus specialty spirit. After one sip, you’ll see why the martini has been called “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.”

Quench your thirst Italian-style with a simple Campari & Soda, or revel in a sweet spot of Limoncello, MandarinettoConcerto, or ‘5’ Cinque Aperitivo, courtesy of artisanal liqueur producer Don Ciccio & Figli.

So, what are you waiting for? Breeze by any day after 4 pm for Spritz ‘O Clock, the happiest hour at Via Umbria.

Watch and see how to make a perfect Aperol Spritz with ease.


All about the Italian Happy Hour Read more

When the clock strikes cocktails, know where to go! At Via Umbria, Spritz O'Clock is every cocktail connoisseur's favorite time of day. Featuring local spirits ...

Cocktail Corner: Drinking Guide for the long week-end

Cocktail Hour Italian Style

Ah, the Fourth of July. This year we are lucky enough to have it land on a Saturday, so most of us have Friday off. Which means a long week-end, with a lot of long drinks. Here is Via Umbria’s drink-a-day guide for this celebratory weekend.

Birra Perugia

Birra Perugia Beer


Tonight, after our final day of work, we are heading over the celebrate the weekend with a Sagra at i Ricchi! We are drinking Birra Perguia beer, of course, as we munch on quality Italian food and a whole lot of pork. The Golden Ale, in particular, is a nice dinner time drink – light and flavorful, it tells our tastebuds the weekend is here.



For our first full day off, we are firing up the grill (see our guide to the Perfect Umbria BBQ for inspiration), stirring up this Fernet and Ginger Beer. It is perfect for a sunny afternoon (and can we say the ginger is a bit healthy)? We always reach for J. Gasco’s ginger beer for a drink with no artificial colors or preservatives.

For a delicious pairing with your fizzy drink, munch on some toasted bread with mild spreadable cheese and our organic apricot jam. The weekend is already here!

Aperol Bellini


Oh the fourth. What are your plans? Are you on a hunt for fireworks, a la the Menards? Watching a parade? Or kicking back around the pool with friends?

While the rest of your friends may be holding Budweisers, reach for something much more classy. A Negroni is surely the most color appropriate cocktail for the day. Of course we love the classic, but the Negroni Sbagliato from Punch Drink is just as tasty, and adds a dash of prosecco to get you in that festive mood. Cheers to America, Italian style!



Good morning, July 5th! A few years ago, the Menards decided to throw a fully American breakfast in Italy. We love the idea of keeping the Fourth of July fun continuing after the fireworks have gone off.

Need a little something to nurse that headache (from the fireworks, of course!)? Stumptown coffee has just rolled out cold brew tonic, which we are pumped to try in the morning…a little spiked.

To funky for you? You can always make the Bitter Peach Bellini that we sipped on last week.

Shop all of our cocktail items here, and a happy Fourth from the team at Via Umbria!

— Ci Vediamo

Thank us later! Read more

Ah, the Fourth of July. This year we are lucky enough to have it land on a Saturday, so most of us ...