Where did Columbia Room Bartender Katie Nelson Go?

To Richmond, as it happens. But don’t worry, she’ll be back.

By: Jessica Voelker

Katie Nelson has left Columbia Room. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

The Washington area has temporarily lost one of its favorite bartenders to the burgeoning dining scene in Richmond, Virginia. But fear not, says former Columbia Room bartender Katie Nelson—she will be back in town this spring.

Through March, Nelson is working on her first official consulting gig at the brand new Rappahannock Restaurant, an oyster bar and eatery at 320 East Grace Street in Richmond. Owners Travis and Ryan Croxton are the guys behind Rappahannock River Oysters—they also have a tasting room called Merroir in Topping, Virginia, and a wildly popular bivalve bar at Union Market.

Nelson says she has been working closely with executive chef Dylan Fultineer to create drinks that pair well with his seafood-focused menu. “There are some amazing fish dishes,” says Nelson, adding that the cocktail menu will not focus on any particular spirit (though she is excited to spread the word about Japanese whiskey in Richmond). Mostly, though, “I just want to do really good drinks with really good ingredients.” 

Aside from working behind the bar during service, Nelson has been picking out the spirits for the restaurant, and conceived of and standardized the drink recipes. She is also training four local ’tenders and hopes to add one or two more before heading back to Washington this spring.

So what will she do when she gets back to town? We regret to tell you Nelson is not ready to spill those details yet, though she said she has no plans to work at the Union Market bar. We look forward to learning more. 

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