How Richmond baker changed Virginia law to serve up her boozy cupcakes

Matt and Rachel Bolling

RICHMOND, Va. — With a successful lobbying trip to the General Assembly behind it, a new booze-infused baked-goods shop has opened for business in the city.

Lush Cupcakes opened its first retail storefront last weekend at 3001 W. Clay St. in Scott’s Addition, where its shares a building with ice pop maker King of Pops.

Lush makes cupcakes with various types of liquor baked in. Owner and VCU alum Rachel Bolling started the business two years ago after testing some recipes at a friend’s “stock-the-bar” party.

“I was making cupcakes for it and I figured I’d just throw in some booze. I wound up making some White Russian ones,” Bolling said.

They were a hit and before long, Bolling started Lush initially as a home-based business. Its most popular item is a Godiva-Hennessy cupcake.

The only impediment was a Virginia law that limited Bolling’s baked goods to an alcohol content of 0.5 percent or less, a requirement that eventually led her to the General Assembly.

“It’s easy to get over half a percent, to tip over that,” she said. “In order to have some more flavor and not worry about the ABV content, we decided to try to lobby for it.”

Bolling’s husband Matt is the son of former Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who recommended Lush reach out to Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington).

It wasn’t Favola’s first time bringing cupcake-based legislation to the G.A. floor. In 2014, she patroned a bill Carytown Cupcakes lobbied for that expanded the types of alcoholic beverages a bakery can serve.

Lush and Favola’s bill introduced the idea of a confectionery license, a new type of ABC license that allows for a bakery to produce and sell baked goods that have up to 5 percent alcohol content.

Click here to keep reading on RichmondBizSense.