It’s the most wonderful time of the year…the time when calories don’t count and it’s acceptable to indulge in rich holiday dishes and desserts. Satisfy your sweet tooth this holiday season with decadent confections from some of Virginia’s finest bakeries, bars, and restaurants. Whether you’re looking for seasonal cocktail creations or desserts made with traditional Virginia flavors, these five dining destinations serve up a generous helping of holiday spirit.
Sugar Shack opened as a single store back in 2013, but now the famous donut shop has twelve locations throughout Virginia, with several more scheduled to open in the coming year. Their donuts are hand-rolled and cut every single day, and they use fresh berries and apples rather than frozen fruits or dried ingredients to ensure the most authentic, delicious flavors. Sugar Shack has several tasty seasonal donuts, including Red Velvet donuts with cream cheese frosting, Gingerbread Glaze donuts, and Mint Hot Cocoa donuts. Order a few dozen, and while you’re waiting, sip on their Mint Mocha Latte, a heavenly holiday beverage that pairs perfectly with their donuts.
The desserts of Red Truck Bakery have been heralded by many notable publications, including the New York Times, Washingtonian magazine, and Garden & Gun, but the biggest endorsement came from former President Barack Obama, who raved about their pie in a handwritten letter (and even took a picture of him eating the pie in the Oval office!). The bakery has all sorts of incredible goodies to share with friends, family, and coworkers during the holiday season, like the Lexington Bourbon Cake made with fresh ginger, the Gluten Free Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake, the Shenandoah Apple Cake, and the Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie. If you can’t make it to the Warrenton or Marshall bakery locations, you can order online and have your holiday desserts shipped to you anywhere in the country!
CHOCOLATE MAKING DEMONSTRATION AT MOUNT VERNON—MOUNT VERNON
Offered daily through December 31, the Chocolate-Making Demonstrations at Mount Vernon teach visitors how the decadent dessert is made, from the cacao seed to the chocolate mills, as well as how it was used in Mount Vernon to make hot chocolate and other special treats when Washington presided over the historic estate. Mount Vernon has several other holiday food tours and classes offered daily throughout December, including a Holiday Time for the Washingtons Tour, where you’ll learn how food was grown, preserved, prepared, and served during the colonial holiday season, and a Pie Making Class, which focuses on both sweet and savory pies typically made in the 18th century.
EGGNOG FLIGHT AT GABRIEL ARCHER TAVERN—WILLIAMSBURG
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The Williamsburg Winery’s on-site restaurant, Gabriel Archer Tavern, offers a homemade eggnog trio during the holidays, bringing seasonal ingredients to your glass. This delectable flight includes Toasted Cardamom eggnog, Falling Bark Farms Hickory Syrup eggnog, and Candied Cranberry eggnog. Afterwards, head over to the winery to sample their award-winning vintages and pick out a few bottles to take home for any upcoming holiday celebrations (or as gifts!).
If holiday cocktails are on your wish list this season, stop by The Jasper in Richmond’s Carytown neighborhood, which is transformed for the holidays into The Miracle on Cary St. The holiday-themed pop-up bar is a member of a group based out of New York City that has pop-up bars throughout the world, but The Jasper has the distinction of being the first and only Virginia location. They offer an array of seasonal cocktails, with festive names like the Snowball Old-Fashioned, the Christmas Carol Barrel, and the Koala-La La La La, La La La La, which is served with a tiny toy koala gripping the glass.
In addition to the Miracle on Cary St.,Richmond’s Switch Pop-Up Bar, Rappahannock Oyster Company (also in Richmond) and 14 Loudoun, located in Leesburg, all transform into holiday pop-ups, becoming Naughty or Nice, Christmas Session, and Fa La La, respectively. Visit these magical bars throughout December for seasonally-inspired cocktails, festive decorations, classic Christmas music, and tons of holiday cheer.
These are just a few of the holiday-inspired foodie experiences you’ll find in Virginia this season. Tell us, what restaurant fills your heart (and stomach) with the spirit of the holidays?