The character behind the cocktails


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Vanessa Nichelson

Tasting Room Manager

Vanessa’s love to create using unique ingredients started at a young age.  Growing up in the Mojave Desert, she was exposed to a diverse variety of spices and flavors. As a child, Vanessa would learn to make her family's traditional Filipino dishes, as well as experimenting with Latino and Native American recipes.  This was only the beginning for Vanessa: she left the deserts of Arizona for the tropical forests of Okinawa, Japan.  There she found a passion for fresh flora and citrus.  She was instantly inspired in the use of these ingredients at many of the local resturants.  Vanessa left Okinawa for Hampton roads in 2006.  After 13 years honing her craft in the industry, Vanessa joined Copper and Oak Craft Spirits. 

Vanessa has created a one-of-a-kind cocktail tasting menu using locally grown herbs like rosemary, thyme, and rose petals and components such as freshly squeezed blood oranges, limes, and passion fruit.  She is constantly creating new original recipes guaranteed to pair well with all our spirits and has designed one of the best cocktail menus in Virginia.

 Vanessa’s commitment and humble approach to mixology is evident in every praise-worthy cocktail she makes.


sara van winkle

Head Bartender

Sara is always looking ahead to her next great adventure.  As a US Navy Veteran, Sara spent much of her 4-year service abroad, traveling to places like South Africa, England, Turkey, and Dubai.  It was on one of these visits to Dubai that she discovered a love for the intricacies of the craft cocktail.  An artisan at heart, she made a point of trying to sample and deconstruct every cocktail she encountered.  It was this love and passion to understand, learn, and evolve as a mixologist that landed her right here at Copper and Oak Craft Spirits.


Drink in the spotlight

Blood Moonarita

Creator: Vanessa Nichelson

A dangerously good "margarita!" Olde Towne Moonshine, fresh squeezed lime and blood orange juice, organic agave nectar, and salt or sugar rim..