Everything You Need to Know About Cocktail Subscription Service Thirty3Club

Distillerista-Thirty3Club

Ever since I started Distillerista, I’ve kept a Google Doc a mile long with names of like-minded companies and brands to reach out to for content ideas or partnerships. Cocktail Subscription Services (think Birchbox meets Blue Apron, but with booze!) and specifically Thirty3Club, were high on that list of contemporaries to get in touch with. Thanks to a busy schedule, that Google Doc doesn’t always get the love it deserves, but lucky for me the folks at Thirty3Club beat me to it! When their co-founder Lisa reached out to chat distilling and collaboration ideas I was over the moon. Thanks to our newfound friendship, there’s a ton of exciting Thirty3Club-sponsored content in the pipeline for you but before we jump in, let me introduce you!

  1. What is Thirty3Club?

Thirty3Club is bridging the gap between the bar and your home, bringing the craft cocktail experience to your kitchen. We are a purveyor of craft cocktails, aiming to elevate any drinker’s repertoire through education on spirits, recipes, and techniques steeped in tradition and being invented every day.

  1. Explain more about cocktail subscription services.

Each month we deliver two craft cocktail recipes with step-by-step directions, instructional videos, all of the ingredients required to mix four drinks at home, and the latest and greatest from the industry. To keep it fresh we continuously partner with top bars, bartenders, and distilleries – we don’t even know what’s coming next!

  1. How the idea for Thirty3Club came about?

Thirty3Club stemmed from two successful startups we admire – Blue Apron and Birchbox. We love the experience of discovering tasty recipes, learning new cooking techniques, and creating something ourselves from the Blue Apron meal kit boxes. Birchbox, on the other hand, offers sample sizes, an element of surprise, and an online store to complement the monthly subscription. Thirty3Club is the Blue Apron for craft cocktails combined with Birchbox’s forced exploration and comprehensive online store. We do not just want to offer education, but also house a repository of recipes, tools, glassware, and spirits online creating a single hub for all things cocktails.

  1. Tell us about your team! Who’s behind Thirty3Club?

Humans are naturally curious creatures with a thirst for mastery. Bartending has been a craft reserved for those who dedicate their careers to it, but Thirty3Club is challenging this notion. We began as four friends who enjoyed fancy drinks, but as we started to ask questions, dig, research, and ask more questions, we quickly realized there was so much more than a cocktail sitting in front of us. Whether an industry professional looking to expand your palate, or a novice as we were, there is always something new to discover. And we have not stopped discovering. What’s really unique about Thirty3Club’s founding team, is none of us come from the industry, so we are constantly crafting the experience for likeminded subscribers. All of us come from corporate America (advertising, engineering, sales, and data science), so we are constantly networking and finding new talent to work with from the industry. This makes for a more diverse experience, that incorporates different perspectives and personalities into each cocktail.

  1. What does an average day look like for you and your team? Do you all still keep a “day job?”

The average day is hectic, but we have made enormous strides to streamline processes and are more organized each month. At the moment, all four of us work traditional 9-5 day jobs, and spend the majority of our mornings, evenings, and weekends working on Thirty3Club. Fortunately, our jobs do grant us the flexibility for calls, meetings, and other areas of the startup needing attention during the daylight. Before launching we were in research mode – experimenting with shipping, polishing packaging, and working with lawyers on the legal hurdles in the very heavily regulated space. Now we are focused on the backend, to set us up for success when we scale, and the front end to fill the pipeline for upcoming months. Our team tirelessly searches for the best partners to bring the highest quality product to market.

  1. How long did it take from idea inception to actually shipping your first box?

From the late evening laying in bed when the idea struck, to shipping our very first for-revenue box, it took roughly a year. The first few months were casual market research, but it quickly became obvious we were onto something. We then transitioned into legal mode, teaming with lawyers and domain experts to pick their brains on rebottling spirits, selling the alcohol, and shipping boxes. Once the idea was validated and proven legal, we had about three months of prototyping and beta testing. Then the first few glorious boxes were delivered in November 2015.

  1. Starting any alcoholic beverage-related business is tough. Restrictions, regulations, red tape, etc. are rampant. What was the most challenging speed bump on the road to launching Thirty3Club?

Thirty3Club targets to not just introduce subscribers to new craft cocktail recipes, but also new brands, because the final concoction is truly a sum of its parts. Therefore, we wanted to focus on the highest quality products, local companies, and all things craft. Before we started Thirty3Club, the only sample sized bottles of spirits we could get our hands on, were from the big name brands drinkers are familiar with. Our first two months we went the simple route of working with these spirits, but since have transitioned to working with smaller craft distilleries, who’s love and passion is poured into every bottle. This required navigating the regulations regarding bottle sizes, rectification, labeling, and procuring, but also working hand in hand with these craft brands that are entering unchartered territory as well. Fortunately, the alcoholic beverage-related industry is a unique community, and we have been welcomed and supported to date. Each company has their own objectives and priorities, but there is clearly a sense of camaraderie and known fact we will go further together.

  1. I love Thirty3Club’s focus on education and technique. What was the inspiration behind this aspect of your company culture?

As we began forming Thirty3Club, competitive research identified a clear gap in the marketplace. For example, recipes across the internet consist of 1 part this, 2 parts that, and do not compare to the food norm, where you will find detailed, step-by-step cooking instructions. How would beginner bartenders know to dry shake some ingredients, while muddling and stirring others? Does the order matter? How about a floral verse herbal gin? It always matters, and the best bartenders carefully curate their craft cocktails. Ultimately, it was essential to focus on education and technique, but it also creates a better experience. We like to say it’s like learning a new language, except you get a buzz.

  1. How involved are bars and bartenders/mixologists with the development of each box?

Our partners are integral to the development of each and every box. We contemplated having an in-house bartender formulate each box, but then realized the diverse cultures we would glance over, the local twists we would never discover, and the amazing stories that would never be told. Before we launched the company, we met a gentleman so bright and motivated, he could have excelled in any profession. We were interested to learn why he chose to dedicate his life behind the bar. This man was no bartender though, more of a magician, bringing to life old traditions and dreaming up new ones. Mixing foreign ingredients with funny tools, he concocted an elixir of amazing smells, textures, and tastes, served with an incredible tale of history and culture, worth the price alone. This is a craft cocktail, and these masters of the craft exist in every city. Thirty3Club is determined to share their wisdom, and we hope that brings an unparalleled experience to your home, each and every month.

  1. How important is the craft liquor industry to Thirty3Club’s mission? Do you try to feature craft spirits in your boxes? If so, why?

Making craft cocktails with poor ingredients is analogous to putting an average car’s engine in a Ferrari. It appears fancy and worth the extra money, but is missing the heart and soul. Craft spirits are the heart and soul of cocktails. Each distillery has a unique twist and story that adds an essential layer to the Thirty3Club experience. For this reason, we go the extra mile to pair recipes with the best craft spirits, and make them accessible and convenient.

  1. Do you plan to continue featuring California-specific craft spirits?

Sunny San Diego will forever be Thirty3Club’s birthplace, and we will strive to support the community as it has done for us. Southern California is becoming the craft distillery Mecca as it already is for breweries, which makes it a no brainer for getting off the ground. While the craft spirit movement may be most heavily concentrated here, we would not be doing our subscribers justice if we neglected the rest of the great distilleries spanned across the nation. We are already branching out of Southern California, and will have many surprises down the road, so stay tuned!

  1. In terms of a hypothetical anonymity – to – mainstream spectrum (On a scale of 1-10, 1 being “completely unknown” and 10 “house hold notion”), where do you feel the American “Craft” Distilling industry is today and how would you describe this phase we’re in? 

The craft cocktail boom is already here. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., beer has continued to loose shares of US alcohol revenue over the last six years. The Wall Street Journal writes, “The liquor industry – once the pariah of the alcohol world – has been steadily gaining popularity due to a major cocktail renaissance…because of fickle young drinkers.” And now supply is ramping up to meet this demand. In a Harvard Business Review Interview with Aviation Gin, founder Thomas Mooney lays it flat out; “there are probably around 300 craft distilleries today. Is that a lot? Well, there were 5,000 distilleries in the US at the end of the 19th century. So it took Prohibition to make that go away, and maybe we’re just starting to work our way back to historically normal numbers. There are over 2,300 craft breweries.” You cannot open a hip, trendy restaurant nowadays without a solid craft cocktail program. However, that’s just craft cocktails, not craft spirits, and excludes those who live outside the reach of urban trends. Therefore, we would put the American craft distilling industry at a 4. The industry is on the precipice of becoming more mainstream in large part due to the craft cocktail boom. This is where Thirty3Club has a unique opportunity, since we have the ability to introduce craft cocktails and distilleries to an audience who otherwise may not have access.

  1. What’s on the horizon for Thirty3Club? Where do you see the company in a year?

Thirty3Club is at an exciting point in the lifecycle of a company, as we are still constantly learning about our product and target demographic. Everyday new opportunities present themselves, and several major pivots may yet exist in the future. In a year we see Thirty3Club being a major player in the craft cocktail and spirit conversation, playing an important role in the expansion and mainstream adoption. We hope to reach this goal by continuing to produce an amazing product and experiences that highlight what this industry is all about.

  1. Why should someone subscribe to Thirty3Club?

If you enjoy drinking, discovering, and doing, then Thirty3Club is for you. You could order text books, spend hours chatting with your local bartender, or you could sign up for Thirty3Club. All of the knowledge to become your own bartender, find your favorite spirits, and order better drinks than James Bond is now accessible, delivered right to your doorstep.

  1. Who is the ideal person who should be subscribing?

Thirty3Club is targeting adventurous drinkers who are looking to elevate their repertoire through education on spirits, recipes, and techniques. We have all too often heard the New Years resolution of cutting back on alcohol, but we suggest making a goal to drink better instead, and Thirty3Club will show you the way.

  1. What can we look forward to in the next box(es)?!

As Thirty3Club becomes a household name in the industry, expect more unique brands and partnerships. Additionally, it is a priority to both expand our store with more premier products and craft spirits not available in your local liquor store, and of course, be a hub for education to become a knowledgeable drinker and bartender. If you think craft cocktails, recipes, products, etc., and Thirty3Club is not your first stop, then we have failed.

Thanks very much to Lisa and her team for this interview. Be sure not to miss this Friday’s post where I try my hand at one of Thirty3Club’s cocktails from their February box, The Bee’s Fuzz, featuring Liberty Call Gin!

 

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Bloody Valentines with Vocabulary Boutique

Bloody-Valentines-Distillerista-1I’m not one to get all that hyped on Valentines Day but when Cecelia asked to collaborate on a V Day-themed cocktail and matching photo shoot, I just HAD to say YES! You guys remember Cecelia from Vocabulary Boutique, right? Well… thinking up fun and creative ideas for blog posts and impromptu photos shoots is pretty much her calling. Everything she creates is beautiful and inspiring, and her ideas always get my creative juices flowing.

When Cecelia suggested we collaborate on a Valentines Day cocktail we both agreed – it had to be pink! Peek-of-their-season blood oranges were the obvious choice to achieve the hue of our dreams. I mean… how festive and striking is that color!? From there my mind wandered to the theme of the shoot, the romanticism of the season, all the accoutrements that go along with the holiday and I knew then that I wanted the drink to have a floral element. I’ve been having fun playing around with rose water in drinks at home lately and figured it’d be just the thing for a Valentines cocktail. What’s V-day without roses after all?

Although Cecelia requested that we coin this drink the Love Potion No. 9 (nailed it!), I thought the My Bloody Valentine pun was just too good to pass up. C also requested the drink be easily made into a mocktail, a concept I uhhh… am not too familiar with. Nonetheless, when it comes to entertaining it’s important to be mindful of all guests, and the option to opt-out of imbibing should always be graciously provided. This lovely concoction makes it easy by combining all the non-alcoholic ingredients together and leaving the vodka a la carte. Just make sure to provide a 1.5 oz measure/shot glass/jigger so your guests don’t free-pour you out of house and home. 😉

Both the batched nature of this drink and the alcohol-on-the-side aspect make it the perfect signature drink for a baby shower, family barbecue, romantic picnic with bae or (my favorite!) a besties’ V-day brunch. Have fun with this one friends!

Bloody-Valentines-Distillerista{ Anthro tumblers | Kate Spade striped plate (s/o 4) | Bottega Louie Chocolates }

Bloody Valentines. Makes 8-10 cocktails or mocktails.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh blood orange juice (juice from bright pink Cara Cara oranges would also be gorgeous)
  • 1 750 mL bottle of your favorite sparkling water
  • rose water and/or orange blossom water  to taste, I’d recommend starting with 3 to 4 teaspoons total and going up from there, one dash at a time
  • your favorite orange or citrus Vodka – I like St. George California Citrus Vodka (1.5 oz per drink)
  • edible flowers frozen into ice cubes for garnish, optional of course 😉

Directions:

  1. In a large glass pitcher or drink dispenser combine blood orange juice, sparkling water and rose or orange blossom water
  2. Stir gently and taste – if the floral note is too subtle, add a dash or two more of rose water. Keep in mind a little goes a loooooooong way with rose water.
  3. When serving, fill glasses 2/3 full with ice. Add 1.5 oz. vodka if desired and top with the blood orange mix.
  4. Give a little stir with your festive paper straw and enjoy!

Don’t have a juicer? Your local Whole Foods will juice any produce for you for a flat $3 fee.

Bloody-Valentines-Distillerita-3{ Gold rimmed bowl & paper straws available at Vocabulary Boutique }

Bloody-Valentines-Distillerista-5 { This dainty diamond “X” necklace would make the sweetest V Day gift }

Bloody-Valentines-Distillerista-4 Bloody-Valentines-Distillerista-2Bloody-Valentines-Distillerista-6 To purchase any of the jewelry, blouses or denim featured in this post, email Cecelia at VocabularyBoutique@gmail.com or pop into Vocabulary Boutique on 414 West Cedar in Little Italy!

P.S. Check out my previous collaborations with Vocabulary Boutique here and here!

A VERY Happy Valentines Day to all my lovely readers! Xo

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“Healthy” Weeknight Cocktail #3: the Buzzed Bunny

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With the new year comes an inevitable wave of resolutions: exercise more, eat cleaner, give the drinking a rest… we’ve heard e’m all, right? While I’d love to think I can finally tackle ALL those cliché healthy lifestyle choices now that the holidays have past, it’s just not realistic to cut out drinking entirely. Besides the fact that enjoying a well made cocktail is one of my most beloved pleasures, I’m currently in the middle of R&D for my distillery‘s first two flagship products. One of which is a New Western-style Gin and requires endless tweaks to the botanical makeup. Simply put, my team and I’ve been tasting a looooot of gin lately. But what I can do is make healthier choices when I do choose to partake. And that, my friends, is the inspiration behind a new slew of cocktail posts this month. For the next few weeks I’ll be posting “healthy,” – even borderline nutritious! – cocktail recipes for when 5 o’clock hits and you don’t want to completely cancel out those hours you’ve been putting in at the gym.

Distillerista-Buzzed-Bunny-Healthy

This week’s healthy cocktail a garden-inspired twist on my favorite classic cocktail, the gin gimlet. In addition to the traditional gin, lime and simple syrup trifecta, I’ve added vitamin A-rich carrot juice and immune-boosting fresh ginger to spice things up. This drink would also be wonderful with a flavored simple syrup such as thyme, saffron or anise. Similarly, you could add 2-3 inches of roughly chopped ginger when making the honey syrup, in place of the grated ginger in step one. And the best part? Just one of these delicious cocktails contains roughly 200% of your daily recommended dose of skin brightening vitamin A. Get glowing, y’all!

Distillerista-Lime-Buzzed-Bunny

the Buzzed Bunny. Makes 1 cocktail.

Ingredients:

  • 1 half inch piece of ginger root
  • .5-1 oz raw honey simple syrup (1:1), or to taste
  • 3 oz fresh carrot juice
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1.5 oz good quality Gin

Directions:

  1. Grate ginger directly into mixing glass, add remaining ingredients
  2. Using a bar spoon stir for 10-15 seconds, keeping the back of the spoon flush against the inside of the glass
  3. Use a 4 prong strainer to pour liquid into a coupe, martini glass or other short glass of your choice.
  4. Garnish with a lime wheel or wedge and a thin ribbon of raw carrot.

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{ P.S. Don’t miss “Healthy” Weeknight Cocktails #1  & #2! }

{ P.P.S. You might also like: Paleo-friendly Peach Margaritas | Classic Gimlet: 3 Ways }

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“Healthy” Weeknight Cocktail #2: Beet Daiquiri

Distillerista-Beet-Daquiri

With the new year comes an inevitable wave of resolutions: exercise more, eat cleaner, give the drinking a rest… we’ve heard e’m all, right? While I’d love to think I can finally tackle ALL those cliché healthy lifestyle choices now that the holidays have past, it’s just not realistic to cut out drinking entirely. Besides the fact that enjoying a well made cocktail is one of my most beloved pleasures, I’m currently in the middle of R&D for my distillery‘s first two flagship products. One of which is a New Western-style Gin and requires endless tweaks to the botanical makeup. Simply put, my team and I’ve been tasting a looooot of gin lately. But what I can do is make healthier choices when I do choose to partake. And that, my friends, is the inspiration behind a new slew of cocktail posts this month. For the next few weeks I’ll be posting “healthy,” – even borderline nutritious! – cocktail recipes for when 5 o’clock hits and you don’t want to completely cancel out those hours you’ve been putting in at the gym.

This week it’s a healthful version of a tiki classic! No rocket science here – I just added fresh beet juice to your classic daiquiri recipe and the result is stunning! I chose this style of cocktail to compliment the beet juice for a few reasons. For starters, rum distilled from sugar beet molasses was pretty popular for a short time back when rum making first began. Unlike England, France already had infrastructure in place to refine sugar cane and sugar beet molasses into sugar, so raw cane juice from the French Caribbean colonies was free to be used as the colonists saw fit, instead of exported back to the motherland. Rum was the obvious choice for the cane juice and as rum and rhum agricole (rum distilled from sugar cane juice in the French colonies) increased in popularity, folks back in France wanted to make their own spirit instead of having to bring it back from the colonies. The French started using their sugar beet products to do so and sugar beet “rum” was born. It’s not remotely as common as it was in those days, but beet spirits are starting to pop up again if you’re interested in giving them a try! Also, beets’ earthy sweetness is an obvious compliment to rum’s natural sweetness and the lime juice is great at brightening up the fresh beet juice’s otherwise one note flavor profile. And lastly, you don’t need me to tell you that beets are a powerful super food. Drinking beet juice can lower blood pressure, provides your body with tons of detoxifying nutrients and fiber and can help boost stamina during your next workout.

For this cocktail I used a local white rum from Liberty Call Distilling Co. I’m not a huge rum drinker but their’s is super smooth, has a nice tropical fruit thing going on and an interesting funk to it that I love. Plus it’s made right here in San Diego! If you’re not local, Ballast Point Three Sheets or Dancing Pines are both great “craft” options for quality white rum. Bacardi will also do the trick 😉

Beet Daiquiri. Makes 1 drink, can easily be multiplied.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz White Rum – San Diegans can find Liberty Call White Rum at High Tide bottle shop on Coronado
  • 2 oz fresh beet juice
  • 1 oz raw honey simple syrup (1:1), or to taste
  • .5 oz fresh lime juice
  • lime wheel to garnish

Directions:

  1. In a cocktail shaker combine rum, juices and simple syrup
  2. Shake for 10-15 seconds and strain into chilled martini glass or coupe
  3. Garnish with lime wheel and enjoy!

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{ Love the tangy tropical fruit notes in local distiller Bill’s White Rum }

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{ All photos above by Krisnoff }

Distillerista-Beet-Juice{ P.S. Don’t have a juicer at home? This 100% beet juice from TJ’s works great! }

P.P.S. Liberty Call has a great Groupon going on right now for discounted tours & tastings! Check it out if you’re in the San Diego area.

You might also like: Classic Gimlet 3 Ways | Cucumber Kale Vodka Spritz

 

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“Healthy” Weeknight Cocktail #1: Cucumber Kale Vodka Spritz

Distillerista-Healthy-Green-Juice-Cocktail-3 { Anthro Tumblers  | Elizabeth and James top }

With the new year comes an inevitable wave of resolutions: exercise more, eat cleaner, give the drinking a rest… we’ve heard e’m all, right? While I’d love to think I can finally tackle ALL those cliché healthy lifestyle choices now that the holidays have past, it’s just not realistic to cut out drinking entirely. Besides the fact that enjoying a well made cocktail is one of my most beloved pleasures, I’m currently in the middle of R&D for my distillery‘s first two flagship products. One of which is a New Western-style Gin and requires endless tweaks to the botanical makeup. Simply put, my team and I’ve been tasting a looooot of gin lately. But what I can do is make healthier choices when I do choose to partake. And that, my friends, is the inspiration behind a new slew of cocktail posts this month. For the next few weeks I’ll be posting “healthy,” – even borderline nutritious! – cocktail recipes for when 5 o’clock hits and you don’t want to completely cancel out those hours you’ve been putting in at the gym.

First up is a fizzy and refreshing Cucumber Kale Vodka Spritz. It calls for California’s favorite health trend – green juice! Feel free to use homemade or store bought, just be sure to watch out for sugar content. Some of my favorites are from Moon Juice (LA) Pressed Juicery (multiple locations, I’d suggest Greens 1.5) or Juice Saves here in SD. It’s no secret vodka is the most calorie-friendly spirit, plus I wanted the green juice to really shine and the neutral canvas vodka provides allows for that. If you’re using a super intense green juice (no apple or citrus), you may want to add a dash of honey simple syrup and/or a squeeze of lemon to keep your cocktail hour from feeling like a cleanse. 😉

Cucumber Kale Vodka Spritz. Makes 1 drink.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small seedless (Persian) cucumber
  • 1. 5 oz. good quality vodka
  • 1 oz. raw honey simple syrup, optional
  • 6 oz. your favorite green juice – preferably a blend of greens, cucumber and lemon
  • Sparkling water to top

Directions:

  1. Slice cucumber into four wedges, lengthwise. Reserve one wedge for garnish and chop the remaining three wedges into one-inch pieces.
  2. Muddle cucumber pieces in the bottom of a cocktail shaker until pulpy and juice begins to accumulate.
  3. Add vodka, green juice,  simple syrup if desired and a handful of ice.
  4. Shake for 10-15 seconds and strain into a tumbler filled with fresh ice. Top with sparkling water.
  5. Garnish with reserved cucumber spear and enjoy!

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{ All Photos by Krisnoff }

 You might also like: My Top 5 Vodkas // A Jazzed-Up Vodka Soda

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Rick Bayless’ Ancho Chile Old Fashioned

Distillerista-Ancho-Old-Fashioned

I should preface this post with full disclosure, I’m a HUGE Rick Bayless fan. Any time I’m in Chicago a stop at one of his Frontera eateries is an absolute must. In fact, I must tell you that on a recent trip I was introduced – by some dear friends and fellow fans – to the pure. addictive. crack. that is the Ahogada Torta, a juicy carnitas sandwich served in a pool of spicy tomato and chile de árbol broth! Aaaaaand I digress. This blog is about craft liquor and cocktails, dammit!

As delicious and addictive as Bayless’ Mexican fare may be, the margarita and cocktail recipes from his book FRONTERA: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks may just give his food a run for it’s money. Chock full of unique margarita variations and riffs on classic cocktails, – often retooled with agave spirits, chiles, etc. – FRONTERA is a treat for any Bayless fan. Or really anyone who isn’t afraid to dress up a classic marg! The days have been chilly and overcast here in El Niño land so this spicy Tequila Old Fashioned felt like the perfect warm-me-up nightcap. Here’s how to make it…

Tequila Old Fashioned. Adapted from FRONTERA: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks by Rick Bayless and Deann Groen Bayless. Makes 1 drink.

Ingredients:

  • 1 dried ancho chile
  • 1 oz 100% blue agave Añejo Tequila (I used Casamigos Reposado because I had it on hand)
  • 1 oz good quality Bourbon
  • 3 dashes orange bitters (I used Hella Bitters‘ citrus bitters)
  • .25 oz agave or rich (2:1) simple syrup (I used raw honey)
  • 6-10 ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Cut a piece of chile roughly 1 x 2 inches. Muddle in the bottom of a cocktail shaker or mixing glass until aromatic.
  2. Pour in the tequila, bourbon, bitters and agave. Add ice and stir for 10 seconds.
  3. Strain into a 10 oz. rocks glass. Let chile float on top as garnish.

Ancho1{ The Lineup: Ancho Chiles, Tequila, Orange Bitters and Bourbon}

Ancho-Old-Fashioned-Distillerista-2{ One thing I love about FRONTERA is each cocktail includes recipes for one drink and a larger batch. SO handy. }

Distillerista-Ancho-Old-Fashioned-Cocktail{ Crate & Barrel Stainless Steel Muddler | NY Rocks Glass }

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{ All photos above by Megan Burgess }

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{ P.S. The Ahogada Torta at XOCO River North!!! 😉 *THANKS TEAM P* }

You might also like: Sparkling Peach Margaritas & Distillerista Guide to Baja & Valle de Guadalupe

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Join Distillerista for a Holiday Happy Hour!

wreath invite

Calling all San Diego friends: We’re co-hosting a Holiday Happy Hour with Vocabulary Boutique this Friday, December 18th! Please join us for shopping discounts and specialty cocktails crafted by yours truly featuring local San Diego spirits. Enjoy a festive drink, finish up that last bit of holiday shopping and support local entrepreneurs – what could be better?! Hope to see you there!

Basil-95-Distillerista-5 cheers

Holiday Happy Hour Details:

When: Friday December 18th 5:30-7pm

Where: Vocabulary Boutique – 414 West Cedar Street San Diego, CA 92101 – in the heart of Little Italy!

What: Festive Distillerista Craft Cocktails & Shopping Discounts!

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Basil 95 // Vocabulary Boutique

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{ La Fete Flutes | $20 each, 10% off for a set of 6 }

We’ve had quite a few things to celebrate as of late (my Artisan Spirit Mag feature, finally naming the distillery! & our first two test batches of gin turned out really really well) so it’s only appropriate that we wrap up a couple of successful weeks by sharing our second collaboration with Vocabulary Boutique: a simple champagne cocktail I’ve coined the Basil 95, paired perfectly with chic, gilded stemless champagne flutes.

Champagne cocktails are the easiest things to make and deliver major wow factor with seriously minimal effort. Anytime a cork is popped and a glass is topped off with bubbles, you know good times are in order. This recipe in particular is a cinch to make and even easier to drink. Basil-infused honey simple syrup and Cava – dry Spanish sparkling wine – create the perfect celebratory cocktail. But the best thing about this recipe is that it can be easily adapted to any season or occasion. Just swap out the basil for another herb or flavor vehicle (orange peel! ginger root! loose leaf tea!) and you’ve got a festive and customizable drink for a crowd.

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Basil 95 Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch basil honey simple syrup (*recipe to follow)
  • 1 bottle Cava or your favorite dry sparkling wine
  • fresh basil leaves to garnish

Directions:

  1. Make basil honey simple syrup.
  2. Fill each glass with .5 oz simple syrup or more, to taste.
  3. Top carefully with sparkling wine, allowing time for bubbles to subside and topping off again.
  4. Garnish each glass with a basil leaf.

*Basil honey simple syrup: Combine 1 cup raw local honey and 1 cup water in a small sauce pan and stir over medium low heat until honey fully dissolves. Remove from heat and add a handful of fresh basil. Let basil steep as the syrup cools. Once completely cool strain into glass jar or bottle and store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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Pro-tip: tilt the glass and pour the sparkling wine so that the stream of liquid hits the angled edge of the glass, just below the lip and not the bottom of the glass. This keeps the bubbles in check and helps prevent the wine from bubbling over.

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Aren’t these gilded stemless champagne flutes the sweetest?! A set of 2 or 4 would make the perfect hostess gift this holiday season.

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Incase you missed it: our first Vocabulary collaboration, the Gold Rush (above photo, left)

Basil-95-Distillerista-5{ All photos by Krisnoff Photography }

Want to see more of Vocabulary Boutique? Check out the boutique blog here!

To purchase any of the items you see in this post please email Cecelia at VocabularyBoutique@gmail.com

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{Classy} Long Island Iced Tea + Craft Cocktails Book Review

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When I think of a Long Island Iced Tea I’m immediately reminded of my senior year of high school and our spring break trip to Cabo. Ten or so friends and I were somehow allowed to run loose in Cabo for a week with questionably minimal adult supervision #ThanksMom. There were several Long Islands involved over the course of said week, as well as the infamous blue-hued drink that goes by the acronym AMF. It’s safe to say my present day drinking habits have matured a bit and I definitely wouldn’t associated the Long Island Iced Tea with upscale craft cocktail culture. Craft Cocktails – a popular cocktail recipe book/collaboration by a handful of ultra-talented bartenders  – has in fact managed to change that with author Brian Van Flandern’s grown up version, aptly named “Drink Responsibly.”

The book was a sweet gift from a friend and while it’s a gorgeous piece of eye candy, the drinks are pretty complex and require several ingredients each. Most of which I either don’t necessarily keep on hand all the time or wouldn’t be down to splurge on an entire bottle of just for one cocktail. Funny enough, this version of a Long Island was the only drink in the book I had all the components for.

Basically a gussied-up version of a Long Island Iced Tea but slightly less alcoholic, the Drink Responsibly is more balanced than it’s rowdy cousin and yet still packs a punch. Like I mentioned, it incurs a long list of ingredients so make sure you have a well stocked bar before attempting this project of a cocktail. Makes 1 drink.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 1/4 oz Grand Marnier or your favorite orange liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Ketel One or your favorite vodka
  • 1/4 oz Tanqueray No. 10 or your favorite gin
  • 1/4 oz Don Julio Blanco or your favorite tequila
  • 1/4 oz Oronoco or your favorite rum
  • 1 oz Gus Dry Cola (I substituted with Live Soda)

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients except soda in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass.
  2. Add ice and shake vigorously.
  3. Strain into a highball filled with fresh ice, top with soda and garnish with a lemon wedge. Enjoy!

Classy-Long-Island-Distillerista{ My lineup: Cointreau, Tanqueray No. 10, Casamigos, Hangar 1, Live Soda Cola & Flor de Cana }

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{ All photos by Megan Burgess }

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Gold Rush // Vocabulary Boutique

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My first part time job in college was at one of my favorite neighborhood shops: Vocabulary Boutique. Located in Little Italy, Vocabulary offers mens and women’s apparel, stationary, gifts, baby things and home decor, (including these adorable gold tumblers!). It’s literally a one-stop shop for everything, including both a last minute gift and a new outfit you need for that party. Although I no longer work for owner and proprietor Cecelia Church, she’s become a dear friend over the years. We’ve been planning a few blog collaborations ever since I launched Distillerista so stay tuned for more posts like this one where we pair some of Vocabulary’s gorgeous barware with a cocktail recipe. And be sure to scroll down to the end of the post to learn more about Cecelia and Vocabulary Boutique!

Gold-Rush-Distillerista-6{ Gold Leaf Tumblers | $18 each }

On a recent trip to visit Cecelia at Vocabulary, I couldn’t get over these gorgeous tumblers with a textured gold band around the bottom. They seemed like just the perfect vessel for a lazy but elevated late-night whiskey cocktail and this Gold Rush certainly fits the bill. On weeknights when we want a pick-me-up, Luke makes a double batch of these after dinner. They’re so easy and quick to prepare, making them the ideal nightcap to accompany our recent Narcos binges.

Gold-Rush-Distillerista-1{ Locally Made Hexagon Bamboo Cutting Board | $34 }

Makes 1 drink | Inspired by an old Seven Grand cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz your favorite Bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp raw local honey, or to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker and dry shake (no ice) for a good 30 seconds until the honey incorporates thoroughly. It helps if all ingredients are at room temp.
  2. Add ice and shake for an additional 15-20 seconds or until the entire outside of the shaker is cold to the touch.
  3. Strain into a DOF or rocks glass – whiskey cube optional – and enjoy!

Gold-Rush-Distillerista-Insta Gold-Rush-Distillerista-5 Gold-Rush-Distillerista-4  { Sugar Paper “Cheers” Coasters | $36 for a set of 10 }

Cecelia’s background is in theatre set design so it should come as no surprise that her store is decorated and merchandised immaculately. Every time I walk in she’s added yet another sweet, special touch. With new arrivals arriving almost daily, it’s my favorite place in San Diego to find unique pieces I won’t see half my friends wearing and conversation-starting pieces for my home. If you’re a San Diego resident and haven’t checked out Vocabulary yet, please do! I dare you to leave empty-handed. To purchase any of the items featured in this post email Cecelia at VocabularyBoutique@gmail.com. 

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{ All photos by Krisnoff Padua }

P.S. Check out Vocabulary Boutique’s blog, The Blah Blah Blah for more photos and inspiration!

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