Beach Vodka: A Summer Spirit

Virginia Beach resident Jeremiah Butler was between jobs and felt stuck.

“I don’t have a degree… I just know how to run businesses,” he said. He was sitting on the couch, watching TV and crossing things off the list for his next opportunity when a Beach Ford commercial came on. A light bulb lit up above Butler’s head. “You know what sounds cool?” he said to himself. “Beach Vodka.” With that name in mind, Butler went out and learned how to make vodka.

A few short years later, I found myself standing in the old Hotline surf shop building at 17th and Baltic getting the update on the plans to convert the location into a distillery and tasting room.

Photos: Beach Vodka

Beach Vodka has been on the shelves at your local ABC store for less than a year, but the success of the beverage is obvious. According to Butler, that has to do with the taste. “The (vodka) market is saturated,” he says. “We wanted to make vodka that has more of a craft feeling. We have people who don’t drink vodka at all drink Beach Vodka straight and say, ‘That’s not bad!'” That appeal won Beach Vodka the super prestigious double gold medal at this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Beach Vodka is distilled through coconut husk carbon and has a distinct sweetness to the end of it that takes away the usual sting of straight vodka. It’s very smooth, and is designed to appeal to the masses.

Jeremiah Butler (left) and his business partner Chris Richeson display their local vodkas, Beach Vodka and Blue Ridge Vodka.
Jeremiah Butler (left) and his business partner Chris Richeson display their local vodkas, Beach Vodka and Blue Ridge Vodka.

The company is designed to appeal to the masses as well. Where most vodka brands market a nightclub and party lifestyle, this local liquor takes a more kicked-back feel. Everything from the sea glass-modeled bottles to the drink’s creator inspires a very casual, beachy mood. Jeremiah showed up in flip flops and a t-shirt for his interview on a hot June day, and told me that he attends all meetings like that. He explained that not everyone can identify with the party/nightlife mentality, but almost everyone wants to escape to a beach. With the Oceanfront just a few blocks away and the temperature climbing close to the triple digits, I had to agree.

With the heat in mind and quitting time ticking closer and closer, I asked for a cocktail recipe for those still a little hesitant to try a straight shot of vodka. Jeremiah recommended the following, with a friendly reminder to definitely go for fresh orange juice over the concentrated stuff:

Virginia Beach Crush
Recipe Type: Cocktail
Use Beach Vodka in this light, summery cocktail.
  • 2 cups ice cubes, preferably crushed, as needed.
  • 2 fluid ounces Beach Vodka.
  • 2 ripe oranges, juiced.
  • 1 splash lemon-lime soda.
  • 1 slice orange.
  1. Fill glass with ice cubes.
  2. Pour Beach Vodka and orange juice over ice.
  3. Top with lemon-lime soda.
  4. Mix well and garnish

In the name of accuracy of reporting, of course I had to test out the Virginia Beach Crush this weekend. It was as promised: smooth, sweet, and fresh for summer. I didn’t try the liquor straight, but it blended with the citrus flavors so nicely that I’m willing to bet that it’s as smooth as advertised.

Beach Vodka is available at ABC stores and military exchanges in Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, and Washington D.C. with plans to distribute further by the end of the year. If you feel like a summer cocktail, support local business and try something new. You’ll be glad you did!