7 Women in the Beverage Industry Who are Killing It

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You know when you meet someone (or, more realistically, stumble upon someone’s Instagram or YouTube channel, let’s be honest) and you just instantly want to be their best friend?! That is exactly how I feel about these seven women. They’ve each created empires of their own in the beverage industry and also seem like they’d be really, really fun to have a drink with. I hope they serve as a little inspiration for you too! Talk about #squadgoals.

Marissa Ross – Los Angeles native Marissa Ross is a comedy writer-turned wine enthusiast who has risen to the top of wine reviewers. The winner of Editor’s Choice and Reader’s Choice for “Best Wine Coverage” at the 2015 Savuer Blog Awards, Marissa has used her wit and experience drinking wine to go on and become the Wine Editor at Bon Appetit. She has also been named one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 under 40, and has authored her own book titled Wine. All The Time.: The Casual Guide To Confident Drinking (which I nearly finished in one sitting!)Do yourself a favor and follow her on Instagram, her stories are gold!

Whitney Adams – Whitney is a writer, blogger, YouTube host and sommelier based in Los Angeles. Her passion for wine began on a trip to Italy, which she furthered by becoming a certified sommelier and working with chefs and restaurants back home in LA. Her YouTube channel, which has more than 36,000 followers, shares her (super approachable and very easily digestible) wine knowledge and humor in segments like “Alco-Haul” and “Drunk Dating Advice.” She is a winner of a Savuer Magazine Blog award and was named one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 under 40. Be prepared to go down a YT rabbit hole the first time you check out her channel, it’s so good!

Marianne Barnes – Marianne Barnes is Kentucky Bourbon’s first Master Distiller. With an interest in math and science during high school, Marianne went on to pursue a job chemical engineering where she developed a passion for whiskey. After moving on to a position with Woodford Reserve, she was offered a job at a brand new distillery that would require her to build everything from the ground up, Castle & Key. Her lineup of gin, vodka, bourbon and rye are currently in production and will be released over the next few years. I can’t wait to go visit once the doors officially open.

Annie Lawless – Along with three other partners, Annie Lawless launched Suja Juice in San Diego, CA, which has quickly become “the fastest growing organic, cold pressed and non-GMO beverage company in the US.” Annie was disappointed with the lack of adequate organic juices on the market, and teamed up with other local San Diegans to bring a juice line to life. Using high pressure processing, they have created juice from non-GMO produce and are on a mission to improve lives through nutrition. The company was named second on Forbe’s list of Most Promising Companies in 2015. Not beverage industry-related but equally as badass, Annie recently launched an all natural and non-toxic beauty line called Lawless. 

Deborah Longo – Deborah and her (then) husband Justin Baldwin founded JUSTIN Winery in 1981, which has grown to become one of the largest wineries on the Central Coast. As President of Baldwin Real Estate Corp, Deborah also handled all marketing and sales efforts of their winery. She has been a member of several Paso Robles wine boards, and was named Paso Roble’s Wine Industry “Person of the Year.” I can’t wait to see what Deborah does next, specifically multi-concept development projects in downtown Paso!

Christina Tosi – Christina is a chef, author, and owner of Momofuku Milk Bar, a bakery based in New York City that is a part of the Momofuku Group. The bakery now has 7 locations throughout New York, Toronto, and Washington DC, and has an international presence due to it’s successful e-commerce platform. Her innovative ideas have shaped dessert trends, such as her naked cakes and cereal milk ice cream. A two-time James Beard award winner, Christina is author of the books Momofuku Milk Bar and Milk Bar Life, and has appeared as a guest judge on Master Chef. Christina also just recently closed her first round of funding for Milk Bar and has plans to expand her e-commerce presence. 

Jordan Salcito

Named a 40 under 40 Tastemaker by Wine Enthusiast, Jordan is the Beverage Director for Momofuku Group (sensing a theme here?), a family of restaurants that have earned top markings for their wine programs. An entrepreneur as well, she founded her own “socially and environmentally conscious”  wine company, Bellus. Each bottle comes with a PALA-TABLE that her company developed, geared towards breaking down the characteristics of a wine so consumers can have a better idea of the wine style. She has also released a successful canned product, Ramona, which is an organic grapefruit wine cooler.

 

My 5 Favorite Spirits for Fall

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I don’t know what it is but as soon as the weather starts to change I develop an absolute aversion to refreshing, effervescent drinks and immediately crave moodier, more direct cocktails, made with warming fall spirits. The five spirits below are the ones I turn to when I want to forgo the spritzy G&Ts and tequila cocktails of summertime and craft a more seasonally appropriate tipple.

Old Tom and Barrel-Rested Gin. As a surprise to absolutely no one, my favorite spirit to drink when temps start to drop is still gin, just different styles! Old Tom Gin, often thought of as the bridge spirit between malty, sweet Genever and crisp, clean London Dry, is a super approachable style of gin that is either a. post-sweetened and/or b. stored for some amount of time in new or used barrels. Several American distillers have also been releasing barrel rested gins, forgoing the somewhat difficult marketing issue of calling them Old Tom gins, seeing as not very many people know what Old Tom Gin is. My favorites from this category are Ransom Old Tom and Spirit Works Barrel Rested Gin. Once you’re familiar with “Barrel Rested” or “Barrel Finished” Gin, I guarantee you’ll start seeing them everywhere!

Peated Bourbon. Bourbon is a go-to any time of year but when the temps drop and there’s a chill in the air, I like to switch it up to something a bit smokier. Peated Bourbon refers to a Bourbon that has a peated malt – heavy mash bill. Meaning in addition to corn, they’ve added some percentage of peated malted barley into their mash and fermentation. The addition of peated malt gives the finished whiskey a bit more richness and smokey flavor than what you would normally find in a textbook Bourbon. King’s County in Brooklyn makes a great version that’s lightly smoky without being over-powering. Aged for at least one year and incorporating just 15% peated malt, it’s a beautiful entry point into the world of peated whiskeys and Scotch whiskeys.

Mezcal. Mezcal is an incredibly complex spirit with strong similarities to Scotch in its smoky qualities. A cousin to Tequila, this agave spirit is made from fermented agave that has been charred, roasted and smoked, as opposed to just roasted or steamed, as is customary for Tequila. The more aggressive cooking methods applied to the agave give the spirit tons of smokey character, making it an incredible addition to cocktails. Enjoying Mezcal straight is very similar to enjoying Scotch straight, in that (in my opinion) – working up to the keyword here – enjoying the experience is somewhat of an acquired taste. Nonetheless, once you get used to Mezcal, you’ll never go back. It has an incredibly rich sense of terroir, more so than any other spirit, which makes you’ll taste wildly varying differences between Mezcals from distillers and producers, just based the region the agave was grown in. Check out my guide to Mezcal here – Part 1 & Part 2.

Sloe Gin. Sloe Gin is another one of those niche styles of gin I turn to when the leaves change! You can read more about sloe gin here, but it’s basically a gin that has been steeped with sloe berries and then post-sweetened, technically making it a liqueur. Don’t let the “liqueur” label scare you, as the natural tartness of the sloe berries negates any cloying sweetness. Enjoy it neat, in a cocktail, as a substitute for sweet vermouth, or even warm! as they do in Scotland. My favorites are Plymouth, Spirit Works, Greenhook, and Boodles.

Spiced Rum. Spiced rum is perhaps the most obvious spirit for the cooler, festive months and I’m happy to say that there are several high-quality, craft options hitting the market these days. Two, in fact, can be found right here in San Diego! Malahat Spiced Rum is an absolutely delicious concoction of warm spices and Liberty Call is made with lots of cinnamon and clove. I like to enjoy Spiced Rum in big batch cocktails, as the spiciness and gentle sweetness are crowdpleasers, making them great for gatherings.

 

What are your favorite fall spirits? Let me know in the comments below! // Top image via.

San Fransisco Sales Trip!

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-2{ Gin selection at Bitters + Bottles }

With a day to kill before meeting up with a friend in San Fransisco a few weekends ago, I decided to plan a few sales appointments with our California distributor. We’d previously intended to focus solely on San Diego accounts for at least the first few months and had given securing accounts in Northern California little thought. But with a full day to myself and that start-up mentality need to be productive at all times, it felt like the perfect thing to do!

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-1{ THE cutest mini flask of Yellow Chartreuse @ Bitters + Bottles }

First, we hit a few key off-premise accounts, a.k.a. super cool little boutique bottle shops scattered all over the Bay Area. The first one, Bitters + Bottles, in South San Fransisco, was especially cool to visit because the owner had actually visited us at the distillery the week prior while on vacation! I was pretty pleased to be leaving her samples that she could return home to after the rest of her trip, with the experience still fresh in her mind.

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-5{ The shelf of my dreams at Alchemy Bottle Shop }

Second stop was Alchemy Bottle Shop in Oakland. This place had such a clean and airy vibe to it, it reminded me of our own tasting room! Beautiful shelves painted the softest blue really let the bottles of premium spirits pop. I can’t wait to see our product alongside their gorgeous current line-up. Another fun thing about Alchemy is their Gin of the Month Club! Fingers crossed, members may see Sunday Gin as one of their upcoming shipments. 😉

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-4{ Can’t wait to make a batch of Martinis with this! }

Our last off-premise account was a quaint little liquor store in Berkley selling wines, specialty bottled beers and a small but thoughtful selection of spirits. The owner, who tasted on the spot, was incredibly friendly and supportive and raved about what we’re doing at You & Yours. It was such an adrenaline rush to hear that positive of a reaction from someone miles away from San Diego, who had surely never heard of us, but really appreciated both my story and the spirits themselves.  Such a fun moment!

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-6{ Carefully curated spirits selection in downtown Berkely }

Hopefully, Bay Area residents can find Y&Y Vodka and Sunday Gin at all three of the above bottle shops very soon!

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-3{ The perfect Aperitivo cart at Bitter + Bottles }

To close out the day, we stopped by one of my dream accounts, Whitechapel, back in the city. Whitechapel, if you’re not familiar, is a hip cocktail bar in the Tenderloin that focusses on gin, boasting one of the largest selections of gin in the whole country! To see Sunday Gin at Whitechapel, even if just on the back bar alongside all the other gins I love to drink, is a dream come true! Thanks so much to Megan at Whitechapel for the kind words and for helping me check the box on one of my bucket list accounts. :)

Peel Out

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyours We go through a LOT of grapefruit peel at You & Yours. We use the fresh peels as a garnish for several of our cocktails, and we go through roughly three cases of grapefruit per every batch of Sunday Gin! That’s a lot of leftover grapefruit flesh that was potentially going to waste. As a sustainability-minded distilling operation, we quickly realized we needed to utilize grapefruit juice much more heavily in our cocktail program. Enter two cocktails: the Peel Out & Salty Dog Frose! The former is an easy and refreshing vodka cocktail has been one of our most popular cocktails ever since! Keep reading for the recipe.
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Ingredients:
– 1.5 oz Y&Y Vodka
– 1 oz fresh grapefruit juice
– .5 oz fresh lemon juice
– .5 oz rosemary simple syrup*
lemon wheel and rosemary sprig, for garnish
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Directions:
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for 10-15 seconds. Strain into a collins glass full of ice. Insert a roughly 1-2 inch sprig of rosemary through the center of a lemon wheel and place flat on top of the drink for garnish. Enjoy!
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*Rosemary Simple Syrup: Bring 1 cup each, sugar and water to a simmer. Add 5-10 sprigs of fresh rosemary. Let steep while the syrup cools, at least one hour. Strain and store in a sealed container in the fridge.
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All photos by Lindsey Marie.

6 Month Update! | You & Yours Distilling Co.

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DAMN. The last six months have FLOWN by.

After the elation of finally opening our distillery’s tasting room doors back in March, there were still a couple of lingering dark clouds we couldn’t shake. Unfortunate legal troubles (note to self: make sure to thoroughly vet your contractor) and subsequent construction delays led to some unforeseen out of pocket costs that were definitely not in the start-up budget. These hiccups forced us to push back launching any new spirits and dial back the intensity of which we were hoping to launch Sunday Gin & Y&Y Vodka in the San Diego market. But shit happens, lessons were learned, and it’s with pure excitement and joy that I can say things are going really fucking well right now!

Six months in, the tasting room is hitting a stride and our products are in roughly 35 accounts across San Diego County. Cocktail classes are selling out. Incredible press is still rolling in and hot damn, we still have five stars on Yelp! (WTF?!). Business is good.

Every new business has it’s struggles though, of course. Tours aren’t filling up (we definitely set the price too high), and Wednesday & Thursday night tasting room traffic is still hit or miss. Managing event inquiries is a full-time job that we haven’t quite nailed yet and we’ve learned the hard way that we initially weren’t charging enough for events and photo shoots in our beautiful and hyper-Instagrammable space.

Every day is a learning opportunity and I pinch myself every morning that I’m fortunate enough to even have my own business and it’s related struggles, let alone a thriving one! And on that happy note, here’s what else we’re up to!

Cocktail Classes. Every third Wednesday of the month we host an hour-long informative cocktail-making class, taught by our very own staff. They’ve been selling out FAST so if you have friends or family visiting soon or are looking for a fun experiential holiday gift, grab those tickets now!

Tours. Newly priced at $15, our distillery tours run every Wednesdsay, Thursday and Friday at 5 pm and every Saturday & Sunday at 1, 3 & 5 pm. We definitely encourage signing up ahead of time but accept walk-ins as well. These 45 minutes experiences include a tour of our production floor, detailed history of how You & Yours came to be, Distilling 101, and a guided tasting of our current offerings.

New releases. Don’t quote me on the order of what will be released and when, but a London Dry-style seasonal gin, Old Tom gin and Aperitivo are all in the works!

Distribution. Sunday Gin & Y&Y Vodka are officially available through Blueprint Brands across the state of California! Tell your favorite bars and restaurants to pick. that. shit. UP. And if you’re in the industry and happen to be in the San Diego area, we offer free tours and tastings for any beverage or bar staff groups that are interested in bringing on the product. Please reach out to cheers@youandyours.com to schedule!

Y&Y in the wild. Here’s a short list of fine San Diego establishments where you can enjoy You & Yours: Brooklyn Girl, Kettner Exchange, The Patio on Goldfinch, Lion’s Share, Concept 278, Soda & Swine Liberty Station, Mess Hall, Marina Club, Whisknladle, Starlite, Monkey Paw, Harvest by the Patio, Solare, Cucina Enoteca, Fault Line, and many more coming soon!

P.S. In case you didn’t know, I’m Laura, the author of this blog and the owner, founder and distiller at You & Yours Distilling Co.!

Cocktail Crawl: Gaslamp Quarter

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{Sunday Gin & tonic @ Queensborough}

San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter gets a bad wrap for tourist traps and baseball traffic, but if you know where to go, worthy cocktail havens do exist! Thanks to long-time stand-bys like Vin de Syrah Wine Parlor, La Puerta and Prohibition, as well as promising recent additons like The Smoking Gun & Queensborough, a classy, quality cocktail-fueled downtown experience is well within reach.

Prohibition This speakeasy-style cocktail bar is my favorite not-so-hidden gem in downtown. Descend the stairs into the den-like space, complete with a makeshift stage area for live jazz. Enjoying one of Ryan Andrews’ stellar dealer’s choices while listening to one of their consistently wonderful musical acts is my favorite thing to do with out-of-town guests!

Vin de Syrah A cheekily designed hidden entrance sets the tone at this subtly Alice in Wonderland-themed wine bar/club. Guests inside can watch a live feed from the hidden camera that catches first-timers trying to find the door! Besides a great wine list and full bar, I love the relaxed vibe and incredible ambiance coupled with music from awesome DJs.

La Puerta This lively Mexican joint is a sure bet for people watching, has a great tequila selection and best of all, offers the opportunity for an epic plate of nachos to soak up all those cocktails! Make sure to try the Californication (Mezcal + lemon + lime + Cabernet barrel-aged Tequila).

Queensborough Newcomer Queensborough wows with a split upstairs/downstairs concept. At street level, a cozy library-esque bar somewhat designed to resemble a subway station entrance is great for after work drinks. Downstairs, a unique relaxed club-like atmosphere beckons. The music, while vibey and seductive, never gets so loud you can’t pro-flirt with your tinder date.

The Smoking Gun Multi-concept ventures seem to be the way to go these days and The Smoking Gun is at least four in one if we’re counting. This new Market Street spot offers a hip coffee shop (Spill The Beans) serving bagels in the mornings, as well as an open and airy cocktail bar serving casual yet elevated bar fare with BBQ tendencies. As if that wasn’t enough, the cocktail bar side boasts ping pong and foosball tables for your rallying pleasure. Eric Johnson is at the helm, so you can rest assured all craft cocktail libations will be top notch!

Shirley Rose

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Of all the cocktails on our debut menu at You & Yours, this one is the most special to me as it’s named for my grandmother! I was my maternal grandmother, Shirley Rose Potter’s only granddaughter so you can imagine the unique and special bond we shared. When I was really little and my parents would plan vacations, I was the first to suggest I get left at home with Nana! I just adored spending time with her. Looking back, it probably had something to do with the fact that she always had grape soda and sticker books squirreled away for me and as grandmas often do, spoiled me rotten! Nevertheless, those early moments together led to an incredibly tight and loving bond between us. I still laugh when I think of how she began every morning of her life the same exact way – with a slice of peanut butter toast with sugar sprinkled on top and a Diet Dr. Pepper in a frosty mug!

Sadly we lost Nana the summer before You & Yours opened its doors and I’ve always had a bit of an ache on my heart that she wasn’t able to see the tasting room all finished and shiny and full of people.

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I knew I wanted to pay tribute to her in some way and a cocktail seemed like a fun way to do so. Another sweet memory I have of her is her love of fresh flowers and gardening. Back in those early childhood years when I would choose spending all day in Nana’s swimming pool and three grape sodas a day over family vacations (lol), I used to admire her rows of perfectly pruned pink rose bushes! Her favorite flowers were pink roses and Star Gazer Lillies. At her funeral (I swear this isn’t going to get dark), we had mountainous arrangements incorporating the two, plus a few Diet Dr. Peppers for good measure 😉 With those pink hued florals for inspiration, we created the Shirley Rose!

Something I’m super proud of is the fact that each cocktail at You & Yours is specifically designed to highlight a specific flavor note or aspect of the spirits. With the Shirley Rose, our aim was to shine a light on the beautiful floral finish of Sunday Gin. My favorite ingredient in Sunday Gin is rose hip so to amplify the floral, subtly sweet and fruity flavor of those we added a rose petal tea syrup and balanced it simply with lemon juice. It’s essentially a rose lemonade, just way more special. Scroll down for the full recipe below. Cheers to you, Nana!

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Sunday Gin
  • .75 oz rose petal tea syrup (recipe below)
  • .5 oz fresh lemon juice

Directions: Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 10 seconds to chill thoroughly. Strain into a stemless wine glass and garnish with a slice of lemon and a mini rose!

Rose Petal Tea Syrup: Steep 1  cup of your favorite rose petal tea – we get ours from Point Loma Tea. Let steep as directed. Add one cup of sugar. Dissolve, cool and store in the fridge.

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5 Quintessential San Diego Date Night Ideas

Distillerista-Date-Night-Ideas-3{ can’t go wrong with fish tacos & rosé}

Blue Water Fish Tacos by the bay… Make like a local and call ahead to place your to-go taco order at Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill. Grab a bottle of rosé at Pali or Vino Carta en route to swoop your tacos (skip the line and walk straight up to the register if you called ahead!), then head to either Spanish Landing or Cancer Survivor’s Park along the Bay. Plenty of benches and picnic tables make for a sweet, low-key dinner al fresco. Pro-tip: time it right so the sun is setting as you’re polishing off the last bites!

Distillerista-Date-Night-Ideas-1{ my go-to poke order: half white rice, half greens, salmon, creamy spicy sauce, furikake, scallions & jalapeños! }

Poke @ Kate Sessions… Head to Pacific Beach for one of two favorite poke spots: Poke Chop (Shout out to Whitney for the rec! We’re obsessed!) or Good Time Poke. Grab a couple bowls to go and drive up the hill to perhaps my favorite spot in all of San Diego, Kate Sessions Park! The views of downtown and Mission Bay are breathtaking and the serene, sloping lawn provides plenty of space to camp out on a blanket. Pro-tip: don’t forget to pack that 6-pack of your favorite craft beer.

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{ throw it on the grill and you’re done: flat iron for two, sweet peppers and broccolini }

Tour Specialty Produce & cook a meal at home… I kid you not when I say I want my ashes spread at Specialty Produce. This place turns me into a kid in a candy store! Specialty Produce is a massive wholesale produce supplier for San Diego county’s restaurant scene but is open to the public as well. Walk in during their public hours, sign in, grab some gloves and produce bags and ask one of the plentiful and friendly staff for a tour of the different rooms, walk-ins, and aisles. They carry all the basics you find at the grocery store (both conventional and organic/farmer’s market) plus tons of not-so-basic ingredients like carrots, cauliflower, beets, and peppers in every color of the rainbow. And that’s just a scratch on the surface. You name it, they have it! Take advantage of their vast selection and grab those exotic ingredients called for in that recipe you’ve had bookmarked forever.

_MGM8189{ mix like the pros after a cocktail making class! // photo cred :) }

Cocktail Making Class + East Village Cocktail Crawl… If you’re a cocktail enthusiast or budding mixologist, head to downtown distillery  You & Yours Distilling Co. for a cocktail making class (offered on the third Wednesday of every month, from 6:30 to 8 pm). Attendees will learn how to measure, shake, stir and pour drinks as well as have the opportunity to make and enjoy two cocktails, all while learning a brief history of the drinks being made. Once you’ve mastered the tricks of the trade, pop around the neighborhood for a few of my favorite cocktails!

Stand Up Paddle Board & Brunch… Though technically a better day date idea, if you’re looking for something a little more active, rent paddle boards at my favorite rental shop and cruise around the Americas Cup Harbor. I prefer this spot for SUP because it’s nice and quiet, usually pretty flat and there’s so much to see! I love looking at all the boats and paddling out of the harbor and around to Shoreline Park where you can post up at the small sandy beach in front of Humphreys for a breather. After your morning paddle, grab brunch (and perhaps bottomless mimosas?) at Jimmy’s Famous Tavern next door.

Cocktail Crawl: East Village San Diego

EAST-VILLAGE-COCKTAIL-CRAWL{ a sampling of cocktails at newly opened You & Yours Distilling Co. }

Not that long ago venturing past 8th or 9th street was an at-your-own-risk activity, but these days grungy, up-and-coming East Village has become a destination worthy of its own adventure! If one thing’s for sure, it’s that this budding downtown neighborhood definitely isn’t hurting for quality cocktails… Bookmark my picks below for your next night out on the town!

Neighborhood – Start off at this neighborhood (pun, intended) staple on the cusp of East Village. Although craft beer is more their thing, you can still enjoy a superior cocktail, seeing as they have an award-winning speakeasy hidden in the back of the restaurant! Depending on your plans, jump on their website or talk to the host behind the false keg wall and try making a reservation to come back later in the evening. The speakeasy, Noble Experiment, is surely worth the return visit but requires a bit of planning ahead.

Harvest by The Patio – Head towards the ballpark and fuel up for the rest of your night with some delicious (and guilt-free) fare like the crispy lemon ginger artichokes and a cocktail made with local spirits at their adorable bar upstairs. I love stopping by this Patio Group spot for a healthy lunch, too!

You & Yours Distilling Co. – Pop over to California’s first urban destination distillery on 15th & G for a tasting flight or cocktail made entirely with spirits distilled on site. Side note: I’m obviously biased, but for real, come see us!

Monkey Paw – Just around the corner from You & Yours is beloved dive/brewery Monkey Paw. Although they’re far better known for their tap selection (which includes their own brews), Monkey Paw boasts a full bar and better-than-average cocktail program. Head over before the end of the year for a couple of limited edition beer cocktails featuring You & Yours’ spirits! 😉

El Dorado – Wrap things up at this classic late night spot known for their high-quality and exceptional-value craft cocktails. With any luck, you’ll catch the tail end of a killer DJ set too.

Any other favorite East Village cocktail spots of yours? Let me know!

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Everything I Ate & Drank in Charleston, SC

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{ Could not get over the beauty this city has to offer! }

It sure took me a while but I finally made it to Charleston! I’ve had my eyes on the southern city for some time… I even wrote “visit Charleston” on the list of (fun) things I wanted to do in 2017!  When I decided to enroll in a distilling workshop in Kentucky, I knew it was going be one of very few, if not the only, chances to hop over to South Carolina this year. My course finished on a Wednesday evening, so we stayed in Louisville one extra night, then rented a car and drove to one of my favorite cities, Nashville. The only way to fly to Charleston from Louisville was with a layover in Chicago, so we decided to spend a quick 12 hours in Nashville, – a.k.a. just enough time for dinner at Rolf & Daughters, drinks at the brand new Attaboy outpost and a few too many at Robert’s Western World! 😉 – then fly from Nashville to Charleston the following morning.

The main agenda points for the weekend were obviously food and drink. Charleston is without a doubt the current darling of the American culinary scene, and I wanted to fit in as many bites and sips as possible. Below is a full itinerary of what we ate and drank over the course of our weekend in Charleston!

Friday 2 pm. I originally had my eye on Xiao Bao Biscuit for a late lunch on arrival but failed to note they close for a couple of hours in the afternoon before dinner service. My plan B was 167 Raw, which was hilariously and vehemently recommended by our captain over the plane’s intercom during our descent into the Charleston airport. I’d had it on my list already but the captain’s blessing made the decision an easy one. Maybe I was just hungry, but 167 Raw was, hands down, one of the best seafood meals I’ve ever had! We started with a dozen oysters (and their house white), which we let the fishmonger choose for us, then moved on to a special that day – chilled corn soup with crab. I’m a sucker for anything with fresh sweet corn during the summer months so I had to. Post-apps we moved on to a shrimp po’boy which was to. die. for. The trio of sauces gracing the perfectly battered and flash-fried shrimp – a sriracha aioli, red beet reduction, and green goddess drizzle – sent the dish over the top. We then finished off with the fish taco of the day, grilled halibut, and a glass of the wine special that day, a natural orange wine that was super tannic and interesting. We felt silly ordering fish tacos, coming from San Diego after all. We sat there thinking, What could Southerners possibly do to top our home city’s signature dish?, but the sneaky trick of smearing avocado BETWEEN TWO TORTILLAS (double decker-style for my fellow T-bell fans) was a brilliant trick I will not soon forget.

Friday, 7:30 pm. Pre-dinner drinks at our hotel’s rooftop bar, The Watch.

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{ Creme de Violette libation at The Watch }

Friday, 8:30 pm. I’d made reservations weeks earlier for Sean Brock’s tasting menu only McCrady’s. Hidden behind his more casual spot, McCrady’s Tavern, sits a private kitchen and dining room that is both staffed and decorated impeccably. All 12+ courses (or “interactions,” as they’re called) were stunning but the standouts were the cobia with corn and marigold and the sorbet with summer flowers. I have to mention that what actually made the meal for us were the wine pairings! We usually skip wine pairings at fancy tasting menu spots, seeing as you’re likely already paying a good chunk of change for dinner, but we decided that I’d do the pairings and Luke would do a glass of white, then a red as the meal progressed. I’m so happy we did it this way because the pairing pours were so generous that we easily shared the glass with each dish, and were so, so impressed. Funny enough, the Sommelier there, Myers, turned out to be one of Luke’s old coworkers from his Market days!

Friday, 11 pm. Aforementioned Myers sent us to see his friends at The Dewberry hotel’s lobby bar. The bartender served up an incredible night cap with an amaro and all kinds of other delicious things I’ve now sadly forgotten. Turns out, the night cap wasn’t that night’s final “cap”. We got so excited talking distilling and cocktail culture and Charleston vs. San Diego with the Dewberry crew that by the time we left, we’d partaken in no less than two manhattans, a boulevardier and perhaps one too many Army & Navy’s, snaquiri style. 😉

Charleston-Distillerista-1{ our cozy and spacious room at The Restoration }

Saturday, 8:30 am. Our hotel, The Restoration, drops off a picnic basket full of breakfast goodies of your choosing each morning, as a part of the room rate. We went all out the first morning to see what we liked – croissant, English muffin, housemade butter, country ham, granola and yogurt parfaits, Charleston tea and delicious coffee. We made a note to order an extra helping of the yummy country ham the next day!

Charleston-Distillerista-3{ the immaculately preserved Aiken Family Library at the Aiken Rhett House }

Saturday, 1 pm. After a bike ride around South of Broad and tour of the Aiken Rhett house, we snagged a Lyft over to The Obstinate Daughter. Although we were hoping for more seafood options, we loved our lunch at the highly recommended Sullivan’s Island staple. We started off with a gorgeous crab salad on pumpernickel toast and the gem salad, then split an incredible orecchiette with fresh summer corn (told ya I can’t help myself), nduja, peppers, chile, parsley, and parmesan. The pasta was one of my favorite dishes of the whole weekend!

Charleston-Distillerista-13 { a (not so pretty) screenshot of a boomerang of our rooftop cheers at Revelry lol }

{ a (not so pretty) screenshot of a boomerang of our rooftop cheers at Revelry lol }

Saturday 3 pm. After a stroll along the beach and a peek at the lighthouse on Sullivan’s Island, we headed back towards the city to check out Revelry Brewing Co. Enjoying a cold beer on their rooftop deck, overlooking the city and watching a famous southern rain storm roll in was definitely a high point of the weekend!

{ Hiding out from the rain at the Nathaniel Russell House }

Saturday, 8 pm. After hiding out from the rain with a few indoor activities, we headed up to North King for our southern fried chicken fix at Leon’s Oyster & Fine Poultry. Although not thoroughly sold on the fried chicken, we loved the atmosphere and cocktails!

Saturday, 9 pm. Even though we had an early morning the next day, we decided to fit in one more spot and grab an after dinner drink at the bar at The Ordinary. Upon hearing we hailed from San Diego, the bartender ordered us the ceviche on the spot! Not entirely satisfied with our dinner choice, the gesture was so sweet and appreciated! As if that wasn’t enough, we ordered a fried oyster slider to round out the night. For drinks, I ordered one of their daiquiris with a port cask finished rum (riffs on the classic cocktail being their claim to fame) and Luke had a classic Daquiri. Casual bartender of the year then surprised me with an Old Tom Gin Last Word after overhearing my love for Old Tom Gin! Night. Made.

Saturday, 10 pm. Couldn’t pass up a Jeni’s scoop on the way home, #sorrynotsorry.

Sunday, 7 am. We sleepily scarfed down more country ham and English muffin before heading out on an early morning walking tour.

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{ enchanting Duelers’ Alley, discovered on our walking tour }

Sunday, 1 pm. Brunch at Hominy Grill. What we thought was a local favorite turned out to be more of a tourist trap. Not super impressed. Wish we would have hit our second choice, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit.

Sunday, 2 pm. Cocktails at The Darling Oyster Bar. Saddling up to their drop dead gorgeous bar with a Lillet Royale – Lillet Blanc, Brut Rosé and orange bitters – was the perfect way to cap off the trip!

Safe to say, I can’t wait to head back to Charleston! I’ve already booked a trip in the spring for the Charleston Food & Wine Festival. Tell me, have you been to Charleston? What other spots did I miss? I’ll be sure to put them on my list for next time!