Godiva Hennessey has a nice ring to it, no?
OK, so maybe naming your first born after chocolate and cognac won’t earn you any parenting points, but pairing these two flavors in a rich cupcake is genius — and worth sharing any way you see fit.
Rachel Bolling is the creative mind behind Lush Cupcakes LLC. She, along with her husband, Matt, bakes and sells cupcakes that feature liqueur, beer, wine and spirited cider. The results are drool-worthy: the Blue Moon, for example, is cake with Blue Moon beer and orange juice topped with Triple Sec and Orange Vodka buttercream; Royal Flush is cake with raspberry liqueur and Peach Schnapps topped with Crown Royal buttercream; and the top seller, Godiva Hennessey, features Godiva Chocolate Liqueur in the cake and Hennessey-infused vanilla buttercream.
There’s also Mudslide, White Russian, Caramel Apple, Peach Bellini, Limoncello and more — 12 signature flavors in all — plus customized flavors for weddings, engagement parties, bachelorette parties, showers, divorce parties (yes, she’s done them, too) and other special occasions.
Since starting Lush in 2016, Bolling has partnered with a growing list of local breweries, wineries and other beverage establishments with the hopes of creating cupcakes specific to each place. Last year alone, Bolling said, she created more than 60 unique flavors for Isley Brewing Co., Intermission Beer Co., James River Cellars Winery, Buskey Cider, Reservoir Distillery, Upper Shirley Vineyards and more. Her cupcakes currently contain no more than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume (because that’s the law), but that’s about to change.
Here in Richmond, “we’re in a mecca of cideries and breweries and distilleries,” said Bolling, who grew up in Hampton, “and I really wanted to make these unique ... to each place.”
All of her testing (and tasting, mostly by Matt Bolling, who calls himself Lush CEO — chief eating officer) is paying off. Later this summer, Bolling will move her baking operation from her Mechanicsville home to 3001 W. Clay St. in Scott’s Addition — better known to many as the King of Pops patio.
Don’t worry, the patio and the pops’ retail operation aren’t going anywhere. King of Pops President Paul Cassimus said that the company simply has outgrown its storage space and will be moving inventory to a new storage facility on Dabney Road, which frees up a lot of space inside for Bolling to make cupcakes. Both items — the pops and the cupcakes — will be sold at the patio.
“I think it makes sense [and] it was great timing,” Cassimus said. “If [the space] is just sitting there, why not help another business out?”
But there’s more. The move goes hand in hand with another Lush announcement: Effective July 1, SB61 and HB1602 — affectionately called the Lush Cupcake law — create a confectionery permit in Virginia that allows cupcakes and other food products to have up to 5 percent alcohol by volume. Bolling can sell them directly to customers, and they’ll be controlled and regulated by Virginia ABC.
That means an expanded menu of “premium” cupcakes, those with a higher alcohol content, is under delicious development.
Matt Bolling (his father happens to be former Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling) did the research to get the legislation created, sponsored and eventually passed. There are some restrictions within the Lush law, he said, noting, for example, that resale is not allowed, meaning other businesses cannot sell the higher-volume Lush cupcakes. (They can sell the cupcakes with 0.5 percent or less alcohol content.) But he’s working on that.
“That’s the next General Assembly session,” he said with a grin.
Mechanicsville resident Amanda Fanning ordered Pineapple Upside Down and Guinness and Baileys cupcakes for a party not long ago. She has been a loyal Lush customer ever since — so loyal, in fact, that Fanning habitually orders and enjoys Lush cupcakes despite being allergic to alcohol.
“It’s easy to work with [Bolling], and she’s willing to do special orders,” said Fanning, adding that the complex flavors from ingredients such as smoked bourbon shine in Bolling’s baked goods without dissipating or overpowering them.
Hers were “good quality cupcakes that didn’t lose their flavors,” Fanning said. “She’s tried to do it the right way the whole time, and her cupcakes are always delicious.”