My DREAM Food And Beverage Concepts

I was reading a tip earlier this week from a blogging resource about what to write about when you get in a rut or haven’t been super creative in a while… they emphasized the importance of writing about what gets you excited, what you’re naturally passionate about so that the process of writing is fun and painless. I started to think about all the things I’m truly, inherently passionate about and one of those is, well, eating out! I genuinely love nothing more than experiencing a new-to-me food & bevvie concept, whether it be in San Diego or beyond. Getting to the restaurant and taking in the decor, music, the look of the staff, what they’re all wearing, how they’re working together, pouring over the menu and it’s themes or quirks in language, getting a pre-drink in the lounge or bar, making careful note of how and when they move us to a table, how they present the menu options, how they tag team service, etc. etc… I could go on and on but this is all to say, I am truly fascinated by the inner workings of any given hospitality concept.

This got me thinking, first about all my favorite restaurant experiences  (another post perhaps?) and from there, all the restaurant experiences I long for but have yet to find. Below is a somewhat silly yet utterly genuine list of my ULTIMATE dream food and beverage concepts or ideas. If you decide to execute one of these, no finder’s fee necessary. Just invite me to the grand opening, will you?

  1. A Chipotle-style Build Your Own Nachos vibe with craft cocktails on tap… a.k.a. not too far off new East Village hot spot Lola 55 – in terms of decor and steps of service – but with NACHOS. And like our beloved Chipotle, instead of white rice or brown rice yata yata yata, you’d be able to choose from blue or yellow or white corn tortilla chips, etc. then pick your protein and choose from fun toppings, different styles of cheese, at least two types of queso, omg someone PLEASE make this happen.                                                                                                                                  Distillerista-Dream-Food-Beverage-Concepts-Nachos{ in all honesty, is there any greater pairing than nachos and cocktails? @Punch Bowl Social}               
  2. If Gusta Pizza and Vino Carta had a baby… the best pizza on the planet is at Gusta Pizza in Florence, Italy. Period. It’s located on the opposite side of the river from most of the touristy things, tucked away behind a sweet little piazza where locals come to hang and meet friends for Aperitivo. The menu is written on butcher paper on the wall and if you throw the pizzaiolo a cheeky smile, he may toss yours in the shape of heart. Pizzas take about 90 seconds to come out of the 8 zillion degree stone oven and trust me, they disappear almost as quickly. The only thing missing is a Marissa Ross-curated, Vino Carta-esque wine list chock full of obscure natural wines from Italian producers to sip between luscious bites.                                                                                      
  3. A fully grass-fed and -finished steakhouse with clean/real food sides… and table side Sunday Gin Martinis of course. All the classic cuts, plus a “sampler” style option where you can have a few ounces of fillet, a few ounces of a ribeye and/or a few ounces of your favorite cut, etc. (I hate having to choose between a ribeye and a fillet, lol #firstworldproblems) Then imagine all your favorite steakhouse sides – creamed spinach, mac & cheese, scalloped potatoes but with ultra ULTRA high quality, real food ingredients – Kerrygold butter, Clover Dairy, hyper local cheese and produce, etc. Basically my dream indulgent meal except I get to feel good about it after. On the drink menu? Food-friendly new world wines with a focus on underrated grape varietals.                                                                                                                                                                    
  4. Blow-your-mind Middle Eastern food with funky skin contacts wines, Pet-Nats, just barely effervescent Gamays and Molly Yeh as pastry chef… Ambiance is major Sex in the City 2 vibes. In terms of food, thinking Alon Shaya meets Byblos meets Kokkari Estiatorio. Does it get any SEXIER!?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Distillerista-Dream-Food-Beverage-Concepts-alonshaya{ an insanely satisfying lunch at Alon Shaya’s Saba in New Orleans – yes, that is blue crab & sweet corn hummus }
  5. Hi Ho / Shake Shack / In N Out, with choose your own “6-pack” buckets of beer and canned cocktails But every burger has two sizes so you can have like, sliders, of more than one style of burger.Because who wants to choose between the three best burgers in SoCal? Not me. Thinking we’re al fresco here. On a random highway route… like halfway between two major locales… a destination in itself along the journey. The type of place you “accidentally” sneak a canned cocktail roadie or two with you when you get back on the road.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  6. An all day beer and wine garden with a Texas twist… local craft beer (plus a few of those love to hate ’em classics), all natural wines by the glass and bottle, plus meat and cheese boards to write home about, rotating chef pop ups, all polished off with subtle southern ice house vibes but in an urban setting. Stay tuned, ’cause this gal might just be bringing this one to ya in the near-ish future 😉                                                                                                                                                                        
  7. Last but not least, a rotating cocktail menu by me (high quality craft spirits only), wine list by Whitney Adams or Marissa Ross, and a new menu each season by a different chef… in no particular order, you are all welcome to sign up for your 3 month stint: Sean Brock, Stefani de Palma, Brian Redzikowski, Anne Marie Coulon, Giada, Ina, David Chang, Francis Mallman… I could keep typing my heroes forever but you get the idea!                                                                                Distillerista-Dream-Food-Beverage-Concepts-annemarie { Anne Marie’s “breakfast bruschetta” at my fave Little Lion }

What about you? What dream food and beverage concepts do you wish would come to life?! Tell me in the comments or DM me!

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Pink Peppercorn + Sparkling Rosé Martini

IMG_1896I first came up with this cocktail one evening (see my IG highlights under ‘Cocktails’) when I wanted to enjoy a nightcap with Luke but wasn’t in the mood for whiskey. Going off what I had around, plus a hankering for our recently released Winter Gin, the rosé martini was created! Although I didn’t have any Sparkling Rosé laying around at the time, it felt like the natural missing link when making this delectable combination of flavors feel more summer-appropriate.

If you know me, you know I loooooove me a sparkling rosé and Santa Margherita Sparkling Rosé is no exception. Long known for their quality, tradition and value, Santa Margherita wines are the perfect choice for mixing up a casual midweek cocktail (such as this), serving at a low key summer get together (see my most recent entertaining post!), or gifting your favorite hostess (isn’t the bottle beautiful?). But what I love most about this sparkling rosé are the delicate floral notes of jasmine and rose – they play so well with our similarly floral and subtly spicy Winter Gin.

IMG_2593Sparking Rosé Martini

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. You & Yours’ Sunday Winter Gin (our London Dry-style Gin)
  • .5 oz Lillet Rosé Aperitif
  • few cracks, pink peppercorns
  • 2 dashes, Peychaud’s bitters
  • Santa Margherita Sparkling Rosé, to top
  • lemon twist

Directions: Add first three ingredients, plus the lemon twist (express before dropping it in) to a mixing glass with ice and stir for at least 20 seconds. Strain into a martini glass or coupe and top with Santa Margherita Sparkling Rosé. Garnish with a crack or two of pink peppercorns. Recipe can be easily multiplied for batching the martinis – just stir in a larger pitcher.

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A Simple Summer Cocktail Party with Santa Margherita

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Those who know Luke & I, will tell you if there’s a get together at our place of any kind, there’s a good chance the festivities will kick off with a bottle of bubbles. While I do appreciate a good welcome cocktail moment, there’s just something about the elegance and simplicity (not to mention the celebratory vibes) of popping the cork on a bottle of sparkling wine when guests arrive. Plus, with summer finally here, it’s a safe bet we’re entertaining at least once a week, which calls for a welcome beverage we can get into friends’ hands with ease.

In addition to the serotonin-inducing effects of popping some bubbly, the effervescence of sparkling wine gets your palate excited for the meal to come and serves as the perfect foil to all my favorite appetizers, – a cheese board, homemade sausage rolls, spicy nuts, small fried bites or buttery little pastry cups with savory fillings – as it naturally cleanses the palate between those rich, irresistible bites.

IMG_2577Dry Sparkling Rosé is my favorite style of sparkling wine to serve in pretty much any setting – it’s what I served at my college graduation party and our engagement party! – so when Santa Margherita reached out about trying their brand new Sparkling Rosé, I jumped at the chance. At roughly $24 a bottle, it’s a great price point for a casual weeknight cocktail party or sweet hostess gift, and the bottle is just beautiful. But beyond all that, the wine is straight perfect for summer entertaining. Surprisingly full bodied with notes of jasmine and red berries, Santa Margherita Sparking Rosé is an ideal counterpart to grilled meats (did you know you can AND SHOULD enjoy sparkling wines with red meat?!) and seafood alike. Not to mention summertime just screams for pink wine, don’t you think? (Yes, yes you do.)

IMG_1686IMG_1772Back to my little summer cocktail party kick off: Like I mentioned above, the crisp Santa Margherita Sparkling perfectly complements my favorite category of cocktail party snacks – cheesy, savory, spicy morsels of delight, a.k.a. everything in this app spread! What I served, below:

  • Spicy Sambal-roasted cashews (somewhat adapted from this recipe, just swap the spices for a heaping table spoon of Sambal or your favorite Asian chili sauce)
  • Mini sausage rolls, topped with Everything Bagel seasoning! Not pictured, but I keep it fuss-free with my favorite store bought puff pastry and breakfast sausage, just adding a few spices and maybe a swipe of grainy mustard.
  • Simple cheese board – I kept it easy with my favorite aged cheddar and a triple cream.

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For a sweet treat, I kept the #millennialpink theme going with strawberry-laced chocolate chip cookies and assorted gummies. For the cookies, I added one package of freeze-dried strawberries (crushed up in the food processor) and dark chocolate chips to Sweet Laurel’s snickerdoodle recipe (sans outer cinnamon coating) and my grapefruit gummies from Sugarfina!

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For the drinks, simply keep the Rosé flowing, or be super impressive and make a batch of my Rosé Gin Martinis. And there you have it: the sweetest, simplest soiree to welcome summer!

IMG_2621Thank you to Santa Margherita for sponsoring this post!

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Valentine’s Day 2018 Gift Guide

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I’m admittedly not much of a Valentine’s Day fan… I struggle to think of anything less appealing than braving crowds for an over-priced prix fixe menu just to celebrate a somewhat meaningless holiday. Ever since we’ve been together, Luke and I opt instead for a quiet meal and great bottle of wine at home, which is pretty much my ideal date night. However, what I AM a fan of is any excuse for a romantic little gift exchange! Hopefully this gift guide inspires you to treat someone this Valentines Day, fancy dinner reservations or not.

1. Art of The Bar Cart, a gorgeous new coffee table book, photographed by one of my favorite cocktail bloggers.

2. I FLIPPED out when I saw that Hangar 1 released this Rosé Vodka. My bottle just arrived and I can assure you it tastes as gorgeous as it looks, which is really saying something!

3. A GOLD SWAN PUNCH BOWL! Just ordered two for the distillery, but one mayyyyy end up sneaking home with me ;).

4. A teeeeeensy bit of a departure from our usual distilling/cocktail content, but I’ve been LIVING in this FP Bra and you totally need one too.

5. A Distillery Tour, duh. No matter where you live, just search your city and “distillery tour” and I guarantee you’ve got a craft distillery nearby. And if you live in San Diego, come on down to You & Yours!

6. This sweet Cherry Blossom Matcha Set is perfect for your matcha-obsessed bestie.

7. Use Bloody Shiraz Gin (actually a liqueur!) in place of Sweet Vermouth in a Negroni or mix with Berry Lacroix for a fun, low ABV spritz.

8. A chic Rose Gold & Leather Bar Cart – at a great price point, no less – would be the perfect companion gift to idea #1.

9. Heart Shaped Ice Molds are a sweet gift for your co-worker or whiskey enthusiast s/o.

10. Love these Blush Pink Rocks Glasses …or a better yet, grab a set of vintage glasses from local San Diego retailer Collins & Coupe.

11. And last but definitely not least, tickets for two to a Cocktail Making Class! Enjoy expertly made craft cocktails while learning how to whip them up at home yourself on those cozy date nights in.

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LKJ FAQ

IMG_6937{ by Lindsey }

Happy 2018, friends! One of my goals for 2018 is to devote more time to Distillerista, so I’m attempting to kick the year off right with a new post each week. The start of a new year seemed like the perfect time to re-introduce myself so here are a few FAQs, fun facts and other random things you may not know about me!

  1. What’s your morning routine? I try to roll out of bed by 7 am and take 20 minutes or so to plan my day, sans phone & computer. I’ll write out a rough schedule, including blocks of time for emails and to-dos, while having coffee (Nespresso pod plus almond milk creamer & collagen!). Once I feel like I have a good game plan for the day, I usually open my laptop and take a few minutes to read the blogs I still follow religiously! Then I’ll tackle emails first thing. It’s probably not the healthiest (or most efficient) habit, but I can’t jump into projects unless my inbox is clean (or at least well-tended to).
  2. What’s your favorite non-alcoholic beverage? Tangerine Lacroix.
  3. Why do you love spirits so much? It’s twofold really… I think part of it is the rich history behind distilling and how far back culture surrounding distilled spirits goes. The other half is the creative opportunities the distilling process provides.
  4. Who is your professional role model? Giada, Christina Tosi, Ina… they’ve all created massive empires around what they love to do, which I hope to do as well.
  5. Why did you choose San Diego over Texas to launch You & Yours? Short answer, I wasn’t really interested in moving back. Long answer: San Diego has a very loyal, locally-minded culture that I felt would be very welcoming of You & Yours.
  6.  Besides Gin & Vodka, what’s your other favorite spirit? Rye! Or Rye-heavy Bourbons. OR Wheated Bourbons.
  7. What’s your favorite cocktail to drink? Nothing beats a Gin gimlet.
  8. What’s your favorite cocktail to make? Some sort of Manhattan or Boulevardier variation with whatever I have lying around my liquor cabinet.
  9. What’s the biggest cocktail trend that you anticipate for 2018? Not super into trends but I’m loving low ABV cocktails and cocktails with salt.
  10. What was your design inspo for the tasting room? Comfortable, approachable, pleasing to the eye.
  11. Advice for women trying to get into the beverage industry? Document everything you do related to the industry! Put it out there in the universe, for all to see, that you are interested in this industry and that you have a place in it.
  12. What would you do if you weren’t a distiller? Maybe a writer of some sort? Or perhaps a bar/cocktail program consultant. Whatever it would be, definitely still lurking somewhere in the wine & spirits/hospitality industries!
  13. Where do you want to travel in 2018? Stateside: Montana; Abroad: Tel Aviv!
  14. What are three things you’d never travel without? A book, my Away carry-on and plenty of snacks!
  15. If deserted on an island, what would you make sure to have with you? Assuming help is on the way, Champagne, a football and a good pair of sunnies. 😉
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SPARKLING Winter Gin Punch

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Last year around this time I shared a Winter Gin Punch recipe that had been my go to for holiday parties, both personal and professional. Fast forward a year and we’re distilling a new seasonal WINTER Gin, perfect for this time of year. I decided to take the same idea for a large format, holiday-ready cocktail and spruce it up a bit (pun, intended!), setting out to highlight the festive flavor notes in our new spirit.

As mentioned, we recently released our third spirit at You & Yours Distilling Co., Sunday Winter Gin. As opposed to our flagship Sunday Gin, this new gin is more traditional in style, i.e. a bit closer to a classic London Dry. Juniper and spruce tips provide textbook pine and spice, while fresh blood orange peel keeps the take on a classic feeling fresh. Pink peppercorn adds spicy floral notes and whole cloves lends just a touch of festive, warm baking spice.

I decided to highlight my two favorite ingredients in the Winter gin for this cocktail – blood orange and clove. First I start with a clove and cinnamon syrup, then add some fresh blood orange juice. To top it off and make it extra festive, it’s finished with sparkling wine!

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Ingredients:

  • 8 oz (1 C) You & Yours’ Winter Gin (drop by the tasting room to grab a bottle!)
  • 16 oz (2 C) fresh blood orange juice
  • 4 oz (.5 C) fresh lemon juice
  • 4 oz. (.5 C) clove cinnamon syrup***
  • 12 oz (1.5 C) dry sparkling wine

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl and stir gently. Add large ice chunks and garnish with cinnamon sticks and blood orange wheels. You can also add a few fennel fronds or rosemary sprigs for some color. Note that recipe can be easily doubled or tripled!

***clove cinnamon syrup: combine one cup each sugar and water in a small sauce pan over medium low heat. Break three cinnamon sticks and add to pot, along with 5-10 whole cloves and simmer until sugar is dissolved and spices have bloomed, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let spices steep while syrup cools to room temperature, about an hour. Strain and store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to one month.

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All images!

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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.

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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.

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How to Throw a DIY Gin & Tonic Party

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Guys, I’m so excited about today’s post. Aside from being my 100th (!!!) post since starting Distillerista, this is an idea I’ve wanted to feature on the blog for. EVER. While it might not be particularly monumental, it happens to be my idea of a picture-perfect (i.e. low-key) entertaining situation and let me tell you why… because A. I love any excuse to just set out a bunch of stuff and let my friends take care of themselves and B. I LOVE a good G&T. A gin & tonic is crisp, refreshing, classy af and virtually fool-proof to put together, making it the ideal cocktail for a DIY bar setup.

A little background on my love for the G&T: “gin and tonic, extra lime” quickly became my go-to order when I first fell in love with gin a few years ago. I’m so fond of the juniper-laden goodness that I’ve graduated to ordering a more streamlined (& low-sugar) version: gin & soda with a splash of tonic to let the gin shine through a bit more. But #adulting aside, any way you make a G&T, they’re always sure to please. There’s just something about those crisp little bubbles and fragrant botanicals together as one, #amirite?

Whether you’re throwing a #GalentinesDay party for your pals, planning an upcoming bridal shower or bachelorette party, or just want an excuse to round up the #squad, a DIY G&T bar is pure, easy fun.

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Here’s how to set up a DIY Gin & Tonic Bar…

Glassware – Keep in mind your glasses don’t all need to match. Just make sure they’re clean and free of cracks or chips. Double old fashioned glasses, mason jars, hi-balls, rocks, juice and water glasses are all fair game.

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Ice – “Invest” in a pretty ice bucket. Retailers like Target often have cute and affordable options. A small scoop, pair of tongs or large serving spoon is appreciated for hands-free scooping.

Paper straws – Love these hearts, this floral print or the classic striped.

Garnishes Include classics like lemon and lime wheels, as well as lots of fresh mint. Encourage guests to give the mint a little smack in the palm of his or her hand and place in the glass first. Then garnish with a bit more on top of the drink. Other garnish ideas to include: citrus peels (fresh or candied!), edible flowers and cracked juniper berries.

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Cocktail napkins – These are too cute, these are v. on theme or perhaps something more simple.

Jiggers – Set out a jigger or 1.5 oz shot glass measure on the bar so that the gin doesn’t flow too quickly ;).

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Selection of gin – The idea is to have a good mix (3-4x) of different styles of gin, however it’s not exactly cost effective to go out and buy a bunch of niche spirits just for a casual get together. I totally get it. If you’re willing and able, consider offering your guests 1. a classic London Dry gin, 2. a more modern Western or American style gin, 3. a Sloe gin and 4. an Old Tom gin. Alternatively, ask a few close friends to cohost/contribute a bottle of a certain style and you’re sure to have a diverse spread! Scroll down for deets on the gins included in this photo set and a list of my favorites in each category mentioned above at the end of this post.

Selection of tonic – Mix it up! Include a classic brand like Schweppes or Canada Dry, a “light” or sugar-free version, as well as a pricier premium tonic. Then if the budget allows, add in one or two flavored tonics for some added fun like aromatic, bitter lemon, or grapefruit. Include some soda or sparkling water too just incase anyone is seriously quinine-averse. Flavored Lacroix’s are also a great addition. My favorite brands are East Imperial, Fever Tree, Llanllyr Source and Q.

{ Tonics seen in photoset: East Imperial Grapefruit Tonic, East Imperial Yuzu Tonic, Q Tonic, Llanllyr Source Bitter Lemon (lemon flavored tonic water) and Llanllyr Tonic Water. My favorite brands are East Imperial, Fever Tree, Llanllyr Source and Q. }

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DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-10 DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-1 DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-11 DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-12 DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-13 { East Imperial Grapefruit Tonic }

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{ Gins seen in photoset: Hendrick’s, St. George Dry Rye, Krobar Botanical Brandy, Woody Creek Gin, Plymouth Sloe Gin }

Other favorites… Tanqueray No. 10, St. George Botanivore, Aviation; Ransom Old Tom, Spirit Works’ Barreled Gin, Sloe Gin & Barreled Sloe Gin, Death’s Door, Distillery No. 209.

Photos by Caroline Potter.

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Last Minute Stocking Stuffer Idea

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Let’s be honest, no one ever objects to alcohol as a gift. And that’s why stuffing your loved ones’ stockings with little 50 mL bottles of spirits is a slam dunk last minute gift idea if I’ve ever heard one! Attn: procrastination-inclined late shoppers, make a quick trip to your local Bevmo or liquor store and grab a bunch of mini airplane-szed (50 mL) bottles. I like to get a mix of no-brainer choices (vodka, tequila, Bourbon, cocktail bitters) and so-bad-they’re-awesome choices. Examples of the latter category would include Jack Daniels Honey, Fireball, flavored vodkas, and coconut rum. It’s all about options 😉

In addition to being a cute and easy stocking stuffer idea, my mom actually does this for my brother and I and our significant others every Christmas. Now that I have my own stockings to fill, I secretly look forward to carrying on this sweet, simple tradition! I hope it becomes one of yours too. <3

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