A Very Distillerista Gift Guide!

The Holidays are here, can you believe it?! Below are some of the things I’m gifting – and wishing for! – this year… whether you’re searching for something for the traveler, spirits enthusiast, aspiring distiller or ultimate host(ess) in your life, I’ve got you covered!

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For the traveler…

Away Suitcase (pictured) I SWEAR by my bigger carry on from AWAY. I love this thing so much, I bought one for my fiancé too. They hold SO MUCH (seriously, I packed for two+ weeks in New Zealand with just this one bag! And we know I don’t like to outfit repeat…) and they’re incredibly durable and easy to maneuver. Plus all the fun colors to choose from! You’ll never by another suitcase again.

En Route Passport Holder (pictured) A cute passport cover makes a great stocking stuffer for your wanderlust-ing bestie.

Carry On Cocktail Kit (pictured) I – honestly – never fly without one, and neither should you! Or anyone you love. I’m all about elevating your imbibing experience, and that means when you’re flying too.

Silk Eye Mask (pictured) Nothing like a chic silk eye mask to make coach feel a little more luxurious!

Hydrating Sheet mask… I love embarrassing my fiancé on long flights and throwing on a sheet mask (bonus points if you do it WITH the eye mask!) What better time to multi-task than on a long flight, self-care included!

 

For the spirits enthusiast or aspiring distiller… 

Gin Making Kit (pictured) Have a budding distiller on your hands? Get them an at-home gin making kit!

Sunday Gin (pictured) It wouldn’t be a Distillerista gift guide if I didn’t include a bottle of Sunday Gin! I may be a little biased, but that aside, it’s a lovely entry point enter the world of gin for a friend who may need a little coaxing over to the good side! Check out our website for where to buy (shipping options included), or pop by the tasting room to pick up a bottle.

Cocktail Class (pictured) If your gift recipient is local to San Diego, consider purchasing them two tickets to one of our cocktail classes! Such a great way to learn – or brush up – on the basics of cocktail making and a fun date night idea to boot.

Large format ice molds (pictured) No better way to enjoy your favorite spirits than over a large format ice cube. They provide the bit of chill you’re looking for plus slow dilution.

Table Top Distilling Book For the more studious spirits enthusiast, a wealth of knowledge on small-scale at-home distilling lies in this wonderful book!

 

For the ultimate host or hostess in your life… or anyone really!

Seasonal Candle with Cloche (pictured) No one was ever mad about receiving a candle! And this glass cloche provides an extra bit of elegance.

Chic Corkcicle cooler tote (pictured) Such a game changer! No more lugging around a sad styrofoam box. Throw a few bottles of wine (or better yet, canned cocktails!) into this cooler bag and head to the park incognito!

Large marble + brass serving stand Bonus points if you gift it with treats already nestled on top!

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You & Yours Canned Cocktails are Here!

It has been a year+ long labor of love but our canned, ready-to-drink cocktails are finally here! 

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Ever since we started talking about opening You & Yours Distilling Co., we’ve always known that a canned cocktail was in our future. Seeing as we’re a very cocktail culture-minded brand and company, canned cocktails felt like a natural progression for our product line. Not to mention the sector is due to explode any minute and you know we wanted a piece of that!

If you’ve been to You & Yours before, then hopefully you’ve seen for yourself the amount of intention and effort we put into our in-house cocktail program. If so, you know we lent the same love and effort when formulating our canned cocktails. We worked with a “beverage architect” firm to help us get the products exactly how we wanted them and are SO happy with how they turned out.

A little bit about the formulation process… first, we sent the “beverage architects” the spirits that we planned to use in each of the canned cocktails so that their team could formulate each round of samples with the actual liquor that would be used to produce them. Let me tell you, shipping a five gallon bucket of vodka across the country is a lot more difficult than you’d think! Hah! 

Then we sent over a (in my case, very, veryyyy detailed) description of the flavor profiles we were looking for for each product, as well as any other existing products that we’d like to try to emulate. For example, we sent them some Cran-Raspberry Lacroix as inspiration for a jumping off point when formulating our canned Vodka Soda, Splash of Cranberry. And for our Gin & Tonic, we sent some of our favorite tonic water (East Imperial, of course). Not because we necessarily wanted to copy the flavor of either, but because we wanted the team at the formulation firm to be able to taste the products so they could have a point of reference when we referred to the respective flavor profiles in our descriptions and feedback.

Once the team at the beverage architect firm had everything they need to get started, then the fun began! They took what we told them and sent them and created the first round of sample cans and shipped them to us to taste and give feedback! The first couple of rounds were a bit underwhelming, as you’re really just trying to nail down sweetness level and alcohol percentage. Fun fact: it took us all the way until the final couple of rounds to nail the ABV of our Mule can! I fought for it to be higher in alcohol than the other two because it had so much more going on, flavor-wise. I felt it needed a bit more punch to cut through the heartier ginger and lime notes – but more on that later! 

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All in all, it took us about 8 months and 12 rounds of samples (2-3 samples of each SKU are included in each round) to solidify all three formulations! The three canned cocktails we just launched are a Gin & Tonic (obviously), a Vodka Mule and a Vodka Soda, splash of Cranberry. Read on to hear a little more about each one!

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G&T – Being a gin-focussed distillery, we knew we wanted to do a Gin & Tonic right out of the gate. Another fun fact: this was also the one it took longest for me to nail down the formulation. By the end of the process I was so burnt out and kept wanting to tweak and tweak and tweak but ultimately let go and just went with the one we knew was amazing. I’m so happy I did because I probably could have kept driving myself crazy perfecting for another ten rounds but the final product we have today is so freaking good. It’s a gorgeous mix of our flagship American-style Sunday Gin with a nice mellow grapefruit and lime-scented tonic water. So refreshing.

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Vodka Mule – Everybody and their mother loves a good Moscow Mule so it was a no-brainer for us to create one for our initial launch. However, creating a canned version of a cocktail that has SUCH strong – not to mention differing – opinions amongst it’s fans (if you’ve never had an argument with a mule fanatic over the correct type of ginger beer to use, consider yourself spared) is no easy task. My approach? Go outside the box while staying true to our in-house cocktail program. Something really fun we do at the tasting room is add a few dashes of peach bitters to our ‘Prized Pony’, which we make with fresh juiced ginger syrup, fresh lime juice and sparkling water instead of pre-made ginger beer. It makes such a difference, resulting in a light, fresh and vibrant Mule-style cocktail and so we wanted to hold true to that as much as possible in our canned version. If you savor intently enough, you should get a nice juicy peach note when sipping on our canned Vodka Mule!

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Vodka Soda, Splash of Cran – This one was designed to be an elevated, slightly more sophisticated version of your classic call out drink – a vodka soda with a splash of cranberry juice. We made it a little more special with notes of tart cherry and pomegranate and kept the sweetness level very low (less than 3 grams per the entire can) so that you could enjoy several without any cloying aftertaste or feeling too saccharine after a few sips. I have to say, I think this one may be my favorite of the three! Shhh, don’t tell the G&T.

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Each four-pack of our canned cocktails retails for $14.99 and can be found for sale at our tasting room, as well as our local retail partners like Lazy Acres, Bristol Farms, Baron’s, Total Wine and several other wonderful independent liquor stores!

If you’re a retailer and are interested in stocking our spirits or canned cocktails, contact our Head of Sales at tom@YouAndYours.com!

Scroll on for a few more fun moments throughout the process…

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{ our first canning run at the distillery! }

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{ so happy! finally sipping the final product out on the water! }

Distillerista-YAYDC-Canned-Cocktails-1{ my bff Erin sipping a G&T on a camping trip to Joshua Tree! }

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{ release day! }

Distillerista-YAYDC-Canned-Cocktails-11{ our designer, John, picking up his first four-pack at his local liquor store! }

Distillerista-YAYDC-Canned-Cocktails-6{ bottling in the parking lot during a canning run }

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{ celebratory promo photo shoot!* }

*First & final images by Arielle Levy :)

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A Week of Work + Play in Nashville, TN

A Week of Work + Play in Nashville, TN

It doesn’t take much to get me back to the south, but when the National Honey Board reached out to invite me (!!!) to this year’s #HoneySpiritsSummit in Nashville, TN I couldn’t respond YES quick enough! And in true LKJ fashion, I had to come out a few days early to soak up one of my favorite cities before the summit kicked off. Here’s what my jam-packed week in Nashville looked like…

Day 1 – THURSDAY

After landing at the airport Thursday afternoon, we caught a Lyft to our home for the weekend, the newly opened Thompson Nashville (I twisted Luke’s arm superrrr hard to spend the weekend with me before the Summit started on Monday 😉 ). We love Thompson properties, especially their Cabo location, so we thought we’d see what the Nashville location was all about. It was even more beautiful than we expected, and best of all, located in the ultra trendy Gulch neighborhood (word has it TSwift’s got a Penthouse nearby). Looking for a little post-flight pick-me-up after checking into our room, we grabbed cappuccinos at the Killebrew Coffee conveniently located just adjacent to the lobby and headed out for some Vitamin D, after which we practically walked right into Rod Stewart on the street! Perks of visiting Music City!

After exploring The Gulch a bit and working up an appetite, we grabbed a Lyft to the 12 South neighborhood for some tacos and margs at bartaco, followed by more strolling and shopping. Definitely one of the better Margaritas I’ve had, plus great people watching and super cute southern coastal decor. Full and ready for a nap/regroup, we headed back to the hotel for a bit.

Once sufficiently well-rested for our first night out, we got dolled up and headed upstairs to the Thompson’s rooftop bar, L.A. Jackson, for some pre-dinner drinks! After watching the sunset up top, we headed out for dinner at Husk. I love scheduling a fun dinner reservation on the first night of a trip because it’s something to look forward to right when you get there, and saves you the hassle of making a decision after a potentially hectic travel day.

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Day 2 – FRIDAY

After banging out some emails (with more Killebrew coffee!) in the lobby, we put the laptops away and headed out for a big walk through the touristy Broadway strip. Having had our fair share of people watching pretty quickly (lost count of how many rowdy bachelorette parties we saw omg), we ducked into Martin’s BBQ for lunch and some reconnaissance on their award-winning beer garden.

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-luke-lobbyDistillerista-Week-in-Nashville-MartinsLooking to kill some time and get out of the heat, we headed to Corsair’s “Brewstillery” for a cold beer. Highly recommend their brewery/distillery tour too if you have some time! This location is where they do most of the brewing and distilling of their whiskey mashes.

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-corsairOn a whim, we called The Kimpton Aertson hotel (another one of our favorite hotel groups!), to see if they had any availability for massages, and they just happened to have an opening for a couples’ deep tissue in 20 minutes! It was FATE! We chugged our beers and headed for the spa.

Having stayed at the Aertson on a past trip, we knew they had an incredible bar and restaurant inside the hotel as well so we popped over for a post-massage cocktail and app. If you’re in the area, you MUST check Henley out. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-henley-cocktail{ post-massage cocktail! }

Continuing along my dream Friday itinerary, we headed back to the Thompson for some downtime, followed by another rooftop/sunset/drink session up top at L.A. Jackson.

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We had so many restaurants on our list for the second night but made a game-time decision to take our chances at brand spankin’ new restaurant Folk from the Rolf & Daughters team. I’m so happy we did because it ended up being one of the better meals I’ve ever had! We started with a cocktail while we waited to be seated, soaking in the minimalist decor and plethora of ultra cool Nashville locals chatting and flirting about. Once seated, we dove into their beautiful wine list, a juicy, salty Gamay for me and a Pinot Noir for Spook. We started with their sweet corn toast on house made sour dough (recreating this at home ASAP) and the shaved summer vegetable salad, which was the sleeper hit. Paper thin coins of zucchini and summer squash, expertly dressed with a buttermilk caesar dressing, topped with tons of fresh herbs and crunchy bread crumbs. TO.DIE. Honestly the apps were so good (slash maybe too many wines? lol) that I forget which pizza we ended up ordering ahahaha… I faintly remember some sort of Soppressata situation? Just go. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-FOLK { dining room @ Folk }

Feeling the vibes (read: sufficiently tipsy) from our time at Folk, we headed out for drinks at one of our favorite Nashville bars, Attaboy. This place is like, 95% of my dream cocktail bar, not kidding… We always say we’re just going to go for one and then three drinks later we’re still there, eyes glued to the bartenders doing their thing. You must, must, must go. Incredible service and lovely staff. 

Obviously on a good one, we ended the night with some shots of Bulleit and Budweisers at Robert’s Western World. Someone spread my ashes here when I go.

Day 3 – SATURDAY 

After a decent sleep in (thank you, second Shiner Bock at 2 am I didn’t need), we slowly made our way to the Johnny Cash museum for some A/C and non-alcoholic stimulation, followed by a delicious brunch at Butcher & Bee. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-butcher{ crispy rice bowl for me, burger for Spook and whipped feta for the table! plus rosé of course }

The combination of being slightlyyyyy hungover and the heat had us desperate for a pool so we called Holston House, the hotel I was set to check into the next day (for the summit) to see if we could use their pool a day early and they obliged (turns out their rooftop bar & pool is open to the public!). We nursed ourselves back to life with Gin & Tonics and stunning rooftop views while submerged in the cool water at Bar Tenn.

After a nap and a shower back at the Thompson, we headed out for our last dinner together at Oak Steakhouse… Would not recommend unfortunately.

Day 4 – SUNDAY

Never ones to miss out on a meal opportunity, we opted for brunch at Chef Maneet Chauhan-owned (the sweet Indian judge on Chopped!) Mockingbird before it was time for Luke to head to the airport. It was just an average experience unfortunately… wouldn’t necessarily recommend but dying to try her Curry & Masala house next door on our next trip!

Flying solo for the rest of the trip, I decided to check something off my Nashville list I’d been dying to do all weekend long (we kept missing the tour times thanks to other plans/hangovers, etc. lol). I dropped my bags off at Holston House and caught a Lyft out to Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, a stunning historical mansion and botanical gardens in nearby Bell Meade, about a 25 minute drive or so from the city. See below for some snaps of the house and property! I could have stayed out there all day wandering along the gardens and cheeky animal installations but the rooftop pool back at the hotel was calling my name. 😉

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-Gator{ a temporary installation by Italian artist collective, Cracking Art }

After putting a solid dent in my book up by the pool, I debated staying in and watching TV with room service but rallied myself for yet another indulgent meal at Moto! After half a cheese plate and some of the best Cacio e Pepe I’ve had, it was time for bed. 

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Day 5 – MONDAY

Attempting to counteract all the debauchery of the weekend, I woke up early and took a Pure Barre class in The Gulch, followed by a green juice next door. Having checked exercise/health off my to-do list for the day (hah), I headed to Pinewood Social to grab a coffee and get some work done. 

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Once sufficiently caffeinated and caught up on emails, lunch at Hattie B’s was in order, considering I’d been in Nashville for five days and somehow still hadn’t had my hot chicken fix! I get “hot” with “extra hot” on the side! And a sweet tea for putting out the fire 😉

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After catching up on more work, it was time for the Honey Summit opening reception at Nelson’s Green Briar Distillery! I got to meet my fellow attendees, try all different cask finishes of Bell Meade Bourbon and go on a tour of the distillery, led one of the founders himself! What an incredible story. I won’t ruin it for you but basically these two sons (both currently in their thirties I think?) happened upon a plaque in Bell Meade some years ago while on a road trip with their Dad and subsequently unearthed their family’s multigenerational distilling heritage! Fast forward a few years and a lot of hard work and they were able to get the original DSP number – TN-05 – reinstated and reopened the whole operation! If you’re in Nashville, PLEASE go sign up for a tour of their distillery and tasting room ASAP. So fascinating and inspiring.

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Day 2 – TUESDAY

The first full day of the summit took place at Corsair’s second Nashville location and headquarters. It was a jam-packed day full of fun information and super knowledgeable speakers. We tasted tons of different styles of honey and honey spirits and learned so much about how honey is made, how hives work, the bee lifecycle and hierarchies/social systems and organizational patterns, how bees find nectar, etc. etc. Seriously so, so fascinating and informative. After our crash course on bees and honey, we moved onto fermenting, distilling, sweetening and flavoring spirits with honey. This was also incredibly informative and interesting. I can’t wait to start experimenting with honey in the distillery soon! It makes sense, considering honey is a sweetener like molasses and agave, but it was crazy how similar the honey spirits we tried tasted like either a rum and/or a tequila/mezcal. They have lovely smokey, grassy qualities to them, as well as a slight but pleasant funk. Right up my alley.

After our epic day, we were treated to an incredibly indulgent and delicious group dinner at Urban Grub back in the 12 South neighborhood. Would highly recommend!

Day 3 – WEDNESDAY

My last and final day in Nashville was my favorite and for one reason: Our visit to an actual apiary! An apiary is basically a controlled hive or group of hives. A “feral” apiary or hive would be a hive that has formed naturally in the wild. We kicked the day off bright and early as to avoid the heat and had so much fun listening to the president of the Nashville Beekeeper’s Association tell us about the apiary and state of pollinating conditions in the state currently. I couldn’t get enough. 

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After leaving the apiary, we headed to yet another distillery, Pennington Distilling Co. (formerly SPEAKeasy Spirits) for another tour and some lunch. Pennington makes a few different styles of whiskey, as well as flavored vodkas, which they use in their newly released canned cocktails. Considering our own upcoming release, I couldn’t wait to try one! 

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After Pennington it was time for most everyone from the summit to head to the airport. Lucky me, I had a later flight so I did a little more neighborhood hopping and shopping before grabbing one last margarita back at bartaco! Such a pleasant little spot to hang and finish my book before heading out of town. I also love the shops nearby – Draper James, White’s Mercantile and imogine + willie all had me wishing I’d brought a second suitcase! 

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Podcast Episode: How Starting My Blog Led to Opening You & Yours Distilling Co.

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I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on my friend and fellow blogger, Nihan‘s podcast: The Secret Life of Bloggers. We chat all things You & Yours, Distillerista, and specifically how starting this blog (when I had ZERO idea how to break into the spirits industry) really helped clear a path to where I am today.

Listen to the episode here! Episode 11: Creating An Instagrammable Business, and be sure to follow Nihan over here!

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How We Make Our Flagship Spirits

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I often get asked about our flagship spirits, specifically the fact that they’re grape-based. “Isn’t that technically Grappa, then?” Nope. While I’d highly suggest stopping in for a full distillery tour, the information below is a somewhat abridged version of what I call “Act Three,” of our typical tour program. 

To make our flagship Y&Y Vodka and Sunday Gin, we start with a 172 proof 100% grape-based neutral spirit, i.e. fermented grape “wine” that has been distilled to 190 proof. Side note: Grappa is typically going to be distilled to a lower proof, therefore maintaining more grape flavor and heat, and proofed down very little, if at all. The grape-based neutral spirit makes it’s way to us in 500 gallon totes from a production facility in in Central California, purchased and shipped via a third party wholesaler, UltraPure.

There are a handful reasons we start with grape neutral spirit (more easily referred to as GNS) for these two core spirits…

  1. Vodka and Gin must both be distilled from neutral spirits… Vodka is typically – err, should be – a simple mixture of high proof distillate (another name for GNS) and enough water to achieve the desired alcohol content for bottling. Gin is simply high proof distillate that’s undergone a flavoring process (most commonly a gin basket distillation) and enough water to achieve the desired alcohol content, essentially making Gin a – wait for it! – juniper-flavored vodka. Yep, Gin is really just the OG flavored vodka! Although, if we’re getting picky here, Gin pre-dates Vodka in the history of spirit-making but I digress…
  2. The large production facility where the GNS is made is far more efficient at making GNS than we at You & Yours ever will be. And that’s just a fact. We don’t want to be a factory distillery, which means we’ll never want or need to invest in the type of high volume, continuous distilling equipment or large scale production warehouses that they have. Because of this, they have far larger economies of scale and therefore, increased efficiency when it comes to yield and production than we ever hope to boast. These facts allow them to produce GNS cheaper more efficiently and cheaper than we ever will. Which leads me to #3…
  3. It’s soooooooooo much cheaper than trying to make it ourselves. In effort to extend a reasonable price tag to the consumer, purchasing ready-made GNS is a huge help. The time (labor costs) and resources (raw material costs) it would take me to make the same volume of GNS in house would cost me minimum 2-3 weeks in my production schedule more than TEN times what I pay for it.
  4. These two products are un-aged, meaning they do not spend any time in oak or other barrels before bottling. Therefore, I’m not particularly interested in putting any type of proprietary spin or character mark on the GNS itself. When it comes to vodka, I put my mark on the spirit in a couple of other ways, which we’ll talk about later, and for Gin, the personal touches I’m concerned with come with the gin basket distillation and botanical recipe.
  5. I’m not trying to make headlines for how good I am at making GNS. I want to be known for our gins, specifically, my ability to create flavor profiles and complexity within a spirit using ingredients and various distillation methods. I’m not trying to win any awards for the GNS itself. Not to mention, when 99% of the gin distillers I love and respect are using purchased GNS for their base, I don’t really feel a need to reinvent the wheel.

THIS IS ALL TO SAY, if I do decide in the future to produce a premium or higher-end vodka, a vodka that aims to showcase terroir or a vodka that aims to showcase a single varietal grape distillate, I would then absolutely invest in distilling my own GNS. The same goes for our Old Tom Gin. We recently milled and mashed two batches of 100% two-row malted barley, open-top fermented in house to encourage proprietary yeast, bacteria and funk, then stripped, distilled and now have them snoozing in two used red wine barrels. When it came to our Old Tom, which gets a little hibernation period in oak and relies on the delicious, malty character of it’s base, it was super important for me to start from grain.

Wheeew. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to the distillation process shall we!?

VODKA… pretty simple. We take our 172% Grape GNS, put it in our still and run it through our ten-inch, eight-plate column at a happy medium rate. Not too slow, not too fast. We get rid of the little bit of heads that remain (alcohols or congeners that come off before ethanol), collect the hearts and then – here’s where I start to make some proprietary decisions as distiller – make a pretty late tails cut. This means I wait until we collect roughly 5 – 10 % of the tails (alcohols or congeners that come off after ethanol) before I finish collecting what I’m going to eventually bottle.

The reason I keep a bit of the tails in the allotment for bottling, is that the early tails on this grape GNS have a lovely, creamy vanilla note that has become the hallmark of our Y&Y vodka. This creaminess and luxurious texture add to the spirit’s overall drinkability and perceived quality.

We then run the tails off until they get to about ~40 % and store them separately for a few reasons…

  1. Just incase the batch ends up needing a bit more tails after proofing/sitting, before bottling, to maintain consistency with previous batches.
  2. To add to the next vodka run for consistency in flavor.
  3. To save money! Tails still contain a fair amount of alcohol and ABV = $$.

GIN… same. exact. process. EXCEPT for two differences:

  1. I make an early tails cut so I have a base of straight neutral hearts (I don’t want those creamy, heavier vanilla flavors competing with the botanicals).
  2. The hearts make their way through a gin basket packed with botanicals before re-condensing and being collected. When we’re making gin, we layer our gin basket (a cylindrical perforated-metal tea bag of sorts) first with a thin later cheese cloth, then with our dry botanicals (for Sunday, that’s gently cracked juniper, ground coriander seed and dried rose hips), then fresh botanicals (grapefruit peel, orange peel and mint) then more of the dry (as we want to protect the fresh ingredients as much as possible so they don’t “cook” too quickly). We run the GNS very slowly so as to maximize the flavor extraction from every single little bit of botanicals! Gotta get your money’s worth when working expensive ingredients, but we also want to maximize flavor so we get the very best out of every run.

After that, both spirits will sit in their stainless steel collection tanks, un-proofed, for at least a day or two to settle and off-gas (release any ill-tasting gasses they may be holding on to), before being proofed (reverse osmosis water is added to bring the high proof spirit down the the desired alcohol content for bottling and sale, both of which are a standard 40% or 80 proof). Once a batch is proofed, we’ll let that sit for another day or so to marry and settle again. After that it’s into the bottle! We don’t filter any of our spirits beyond a simple coffee filter-like mesh strainer situation just to make sure no solids, dust or distillery dog hair make it into the final product.

After getting their respective labels and neck tags, they get a quick visual check to make sure everything’s gone on correctly, packed up in cases and either head to the bar for front of house bottle sales or off to our distributor for account delivery! 

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Spirit Review: Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin

 

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Product: Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Flavored Gin

Category: Flavored Gin

Distillery: Four Pillars Distillery, Australia

ABV: 37.8% or 75.5 proof

Price: fluctuates based on market but typically found between $36 and $40

Tasting Notes: grassy, earthy, tea, chamomile, gentian, bitter

Ideal Cocktail Pairings: My favorite way to use this spirit is in place of Sweet Vermouth or pretty much anytime a cocktail calls for an Amaro. The shiraz grapes give the gin a ton of bitter, tea-like notes that remind me of an Italian-style bitter liqueur so that’s where my mind goes first.

It’d also be an obvious replacement for Sloe Gin in a Sloe Gin Fizz, or in place of whiskey in a New York Sour! I also love just topping it with a splash or two of sparkling water or your favorite Lacroix flavor for a quick and easy spritz.

Similar Products: Sloe Gin and other Gin liqueurs.

Final Thoughts: A really fun product to play around with, with a ton of applications, regardless of season. I’m a huge fan of Sloe Gins and Sloe Gin-style Gins in theory, but have had a hard time finding one that’s pleasantly balanced, so with this Shiraz Gin, I feel like I’ve finally found something within that realm that I actually like.

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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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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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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. :)

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Elderflower Manhattan

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When Woody Creek sent me a bottle of their 100% Rye Whiskey my mind went wild thinking of fun ideas for cocktails to share with you. As usual, I brainstormed a few original, season applications and then moved on to twists on classics like this Elderflower Manhattan… Minor hiccup: the stuff was so damn delicious that by the time I got around to recipe testing and photographing, the bottle was basically gone! Yes, THAT good.

Having long loved both wheat- and rye-heavy Bourbons, I got really into straight ryes this past year and this Woody Creek rye has to be one of the most well-balanced ones I’ve tried. In addition to the smooth warmth, stunning complexity and seductive vanilla notes, I love knowing that Woody Creek distillers mill, mash, ferment and distill every single drop themselves. There are a ton of great rye whiskeys on the market today but it’s difficult to find a craft producer that actually does it all. I so appreciate Woody Creek’s dedication to the art of distilling, and will definitely be buying this whiskey as soon as I see it. Do yourself a favor and pick up a second bottle when you do – the first goes too fast. 😉

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Elderflower Manhattan. Makes 1.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Woody Creek rye whiskey
  • 1 oz elderflower cordial or liqueur
  • 2 dashes passionfruit bitters

Directions:

  1. If using a non-alcoholic cordial*, add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake gently with ice for 5 seconds. If using a liqueur, such as St. Germain, add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir for 10-15 seconds.
  2. Strain into a rocks or DOF glass over a large cube or sphere ice mold.
  3. Garnish with fresh elderflower blossoms and enjoy!

Notes: 

  • *Traditionally any cocktail recipe that calls for a non-alcoholic syrup, cordial or fresh juice should be shaken, but I wanted this cocktail to mimic the smooth, velvety texture of a proper stirred Manhattan. To achieve that with the Belvoir Farms cordial pictured below (I had run out of St. Germain, an alcoholic elderflower liqueur I prefer to use in applications like these), I shook the ingredients gently so not to break up the ice in the shaker too much and maintain as much of the natural texture of the Rye as possible, while still mixing the components thoroughly. I’d recommend using a liqueur like St. Germain and the correct mixing glass method if at all possible.
  • I find all my fresh edible flower garnishes at Specialty Produce. If you’re not located in the San Diego area, check with your local restaurant wholesale produce supplier!

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