Easily the most Instagrammed bar in Old Town, The People’s Drug is so much more than the large neon “Drugs” sign or the wall art stating “Good Food and Good Vibes” (which is exactly what you will find in the intimate cocktail bar). Owners Teddy Kim, Seth McClelland, Ian McGrath and Beverage Director Jon Schott wanted to bring back the nostalgia of the soda counter with their own twist and, of course, cocktails! Jon may describe it best, “Those that grew up in the area remember them well and especially the soda counter or lunch counter. The counter was where people from all walks gathered to get a bite. We wanted to provide that to our community and continue what we want to be the evolution of them and elevate the idea with incredible food and cocktails. We also felt the name highlighted the importance of food in somewhat of a Hippocrates’ way; 'let food be thy medicine’. We wanted a place that was approachable and where you didn’t need to sacrifice that for quality. The two words People and Drug come together in our place for what you could say a prescribed good time.”
From amazing sandwiches and the phenomenal People’s Burger to healthy, but still out of this world, Quinoa Bowls, there is something on the menu to please even the pickiest of eaters. Chef Melvin Urrutia creates food that feels casual but upscale and perfectly complements the over 40 rotating seasonal cocktails. Though over 200 cocktails have graced the menu since opening in Spring 2018, only one has remained a staple and fan favorite: The Old Fashioned! Spending three years perfecting the recipe for their Signature Old Fashioned using Old Forester Signature Bourbon, Gum Syrup, house-made aromatic bitters, and orange zest, this no frills (and no cherry) Old Fashioned is perfection.
The care, creativity, and desire to bring something magical to all guests have now led to the opening of two new Columbus St. restaurants. Jon Schott and Alex Taylor joined The People’s Drug ownership team as co-owners in the two-story concept dining experience that is now known as The Handover and King’s Ransom. Months before construction even began, Jon talked about their dream of creating a place surrounding the concept of “Balance” in the two-story space, and beginning the experimental process of seeing where they could take their cocktails to the next level.
Downstairs, The Handover is a bright white, clean space with beautiful exposed brick and showcases a hand painted, gold leaf mural by a local artist. Serving chef-to-you Temaki style sushi, the focus is on the experience and letting the sushi shine with crispy nori and the fluffiest rice making each bite perfection.
Walking upstairs to The King’s Ransom will make you feel like you are trading in the building’s “yang” for its “yin.” The contrast of the black walls and gold accents is elegant and dramatic. Dine on shareable Tuna Tostadas, Bento Boxes and Sashimi while enjoying a cocktail or two which rotate through the menu. Some are inspired by the menu while others are curated based on what is seasonal and trending. But the real star of the show at The King’s Ransom is the Toki Highball machine; the only of its kind here in Virginia. Making filtered water three times more carbonated than champagne, this machine can take your ordinary Vodka Soda and make it “the best Vodka Soda you’ll have in your life” according to Jon. It can make even the most traditional of drinks extraordinary!
Casual comfort. Creative experiences. Delicious food. Exciting cocktails. No matter your reason for walking into The People’s Drug, The Handover or King’s Ransom, you’re guaranteed to taste the love put into every sip and bite
Story + Photography by Jeanette Wages + Photography Courtesy of The Handover