My RI Life: Willa Van Nostrand Of Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails
I am a writer, mixologist and beverage consultant & I own Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails, Rhode Island’s first “garden to glass” cocktail catering company. I grew up on a small herb farm called Blessingway, just 10 miles outside of Providence, where I learned to make bitters, tinctures and infusions with my mom, an herbalist & midwife. I’m inspired by fresh and foraged foods, natural wine & knowing where my ingredients come from. I sing and make performance art with my sister Glenna (We’re called VNS, Van Nostrand Sisters.) & I love living on the Westside of Providence. I enjoy travelling across our small Ocean State to find the most delicious food & drink. Keep your eyes peeled for my cocktail column, Here’s How! Cocktails, in Edible Rhody.
On Coffee, Food, Cocktails & Music
For Coffee & Pastry: Pastiche. I have been going there for cappuccino and rugelach since I was a young teenager. I love the warm ambience with the fireplace in the winter. I’ve also been known to end up at Pastiche on my morning runs. Counter-intuitive? I think not!
Bolt Coffee at The Dean for espresso, quick meetings & checking out the great culture & couture magazine collection in the lobby.
For Brunch: Nick's on Broadway, Kitchen and Loie Fuller’s. You cannot beat a meal at Nick's. Howard at Kitchen makes a mean french toast and his bacon is thick, hand-cut and crispy. Loie Fuller's hosts 1 brunch a week on Sundays and it always feels like a special occasion: farm fresh eggs, colorful salads, inventive omelettes. You may even catch an order of fried chicken & waffles if you’re lucky.
For Dinner: Alforno for Spicy Margherita Pizza and a martini, Den Den for the Kimchi Hot Pot or Ramen & a glass of rosé & El Rancho Grande for Enchiladas Suizas and Mezcal (my favorite spirit). And always, oysters at North.
Cocktails: The Slow Rhode. I am so excited about this place! It’s Pat Lowney’s (from Broadway Bistro) newest addition to the Westside food scene. Amazing small shareable plates, a take on Nashville hot fried chicken, a delicious burger...The Westside has been due for a place like this for a few years now. I consulted on the cocktail menu & we have some real beauties for you, like a pristine honey-distilled vodka & cassis (black currant) cocktail or a spicy & floral margarita with black sea salt & a Bourbon Old-Fashioned with a serious kick. Go with a friend or 2 and taste through the cocktail list. I dare you. Pair with the seared kale salad, crawfish beignets & any of the bigger plates (hot fried chicken!!).
After, hop down to Lonely Street in Olneyville Square for a round. Order a mini Bud bottle (It’s just so darn cute!) and a shot of VEP Green Chartreuse, this is one of their specialties…While you’re at it, take a few pics in the black and white photo booth!
Wine: I am really excited about natural wine. Natural wines are generally biodynamic & organic ones that have been produced with very little intervention on the vineyard, in the cellar and during bottling, i.e., low-to-zero additives or sulfites. Think purity, personality and terroir. Campus Fine Wines has a great natural wine selection as does Grapes & Gourmet in Jamestown. A few bottles to try: Morphos Petillant Naturel (from Maine) or Royaz Sparkling Wine (from Slovenia). You will find both at Grapes & Gourmet. Taste Domaine du Mortier Graviers 2013 (Loire Valley, France) & Chemins de Bassac Isa White 2014 (Languedoc-Roussillon). Both are available at Campus Fine Wines. Not sure if your local wine store stocks natural wine? Ask! And yee shall receive…
Live Music: There’s nothing like it! I used to book music & curate art shows at Machines With Magnets in Pawtucket. Marcel Mcvay is doing a great job lining up fresh acts & exciting experimental musicians now (Great bar program too!). I love what the guys at The Columbus Theatre are doing - I look forward to seeing Morgan Eve’s new project, The Huntress. Keep your eyes peeled for Jacob Wolf, he books fabulous (free!?) folk shows at Aurora on Monday nights.
Outings: I love any hike that’s next to the ocean. Walks at Beavertail in Jamestown, Goddard Park in East Greenwich & Lincoln Woods are my go-tos. I’m always looking for new spots to take my pup Gladiola (Gladdy) for a long walk.
What I’m Drinking
The Old Fashioned Dram
(A spin on a traditional Old-Fashioned with a spicy, warming bite of allspice)
2 oz Bulleit Bourbon
¼ oz Saint Elizabeth Allspice Dram
barspoon sugar (or a brown sugar cube if you have one)
garnish with blood orange wheel
Preparation: In a rocks glass, add a barspoon of sugar (or brown sugar cube) and Allspice Dram and muddle for 10 seconds until you have a fine paste. Add ice and pour whiskey. Stir for 15 seconds and garnish with a blood orange wheel. Cheers!
Contact Info & Social Media
Photo Credits: Photography by DIA (Diane is fabulous!), Glenna Van Nostrand & Willa Van Nostrand. Red bar top picture taken at Nick's on Broadway. Greenhouse photo taken at my favorite greenhouse, Indie Growers in Bristol, RI.