DAMN. The last six months have FLOWN by.
After the elation of finally opening our distillery’s tasting room doors back in March, there were still a couple of lingering dark clouds we couldn’t shake. Unfortunate legal troubles (note to self: make sure to thoroughly vet your contractor) and subsequent construction delays led to some unforeseen out of pocket costs that were definitely not in the start-up budget. These hiccups forced us to push back launching any new spirits and dial back the intensity of which we were hoping to launch Sunday Gin & Y&Y Vodka in the San Diego market. But shit happens, lessons were learned, and it’s with pure excitement and joy that I can say things are going really fucking well right now!
Six months in, the tasting room is hitting a stride and our products are in roughly 35 accounts across San Diego County. Cocktail classes are selling out. Incredible press is still rolling in and hot damn, we still have five stars on Yelp! (WTF?!). Business is good.
Every new business has it’s struggles though, of course. Tours aren’t filling up (we definitely set the price too high), and Wednesday & Thursday night tasting room traffic is still hit or miss. Managing event inquiries is a full-time job that we haven’t quite nailed yet and we’ve learned the hard way that we initially weren’t charging enough for events and photo shoots in our beautiful and hyper-Instagrammable space.
Every day is a learning opportunity and I pinch myself every morning that I’m fortunate enough to even have my own business and it’s related struggles, let alone a thriving one! And on that happy note, here’s what else we’re up to!
Cocktail Classes. Every third Wednesday of the month we host an hour-long informative cocktail-making class, taught by our very own staff. They’ve been selling out FAST so if you have friends or family visiting soon or are looking for a fun experiential holiday gift, grab those tickets now!
Tours. Newly priced at $15, our distillery tours run every Wednesdsay, Thursday and Friday at 5 pm and every Saturday & Sunday at 1, 3 & 5 pm. We definitely encourage signing up ahead of time but accept walk-ins as well. These 45 minutes experiences include a tour of our production floor, detailed history of how You & Yours came to be, Distilling 101, and a guided tasting of our current offerings.
New releases. Don’t quote me on the order of what will be released and when, but a London Dry-style seasonal gin, Old Tom gin and Aperitivo are all in the works!
Distribution. Sunday Gin & Y&Y Vodka are officially available through Blueprint Brands across the state of California! Tell your favorite bars and restaurants to pick. that. shit. UP. And if you’re in the industry and happen to be in the San Diego area, we offer free tours and tastings for any beverage or bar staff groups that are interested in bringing on the product. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule!
Y&Y in the wild. Here’s a short list of fine San Diego establishments where you can enjoy You & Yours: Brooklyn Girl, Kettner Exchange, The Patio on Goldfinch, Lion’s Share, Concept 278, Soda & Swine Liberty Station, Mess Hall, Marina Club, Whisknladle, Starlite, Monkey Paw, Harvest by the Patio, Solare, Cucina Enoteca, Fault Line, and many more coming soon!
P.S. In case you didn’t know, I’m Laura, the author of this blog and the owner, founder and distiller at You & Yours Distilling Co.!
Of all the cocktails on our debut menu at You & Yours, this one is the most special to me as it’s named for my grandmother! I was my maternal grandmother, Shirley Rose Potter’s only granddaughter so you can imagine the unique and special bond we shared. When I was really little and my parents would plan vacations, I was the first to suggest I get left at home with Nana! I just adored spending time with her. Looking back, it probably had something to do with the fact that she always had grape soda and sticker books squirreled away for me and as grandmas often do, spoiled me rotten! Nevertheless, those early moments together led to an incredibly tight and loving bond between us. I still laugh when I think of how she began every morning of her life the same exact way – with a slice of peanut butter toast with sugar sprinkled on top and a Diet Dr. Pepper in a frosty mug!
Sadly we lost Nana the summer before You & Yours opened its doors and I’ve always had a bit of an ache on my heart that she wasn’t able to see the tasting room all finished and shiny and full of people.
I knew I wanted to pay tribute to her in some way and a cocktail seemed like a fun way to do so. Another sweet memory I have of her is her love of fresh flowers and gardening. Back in those early childhood years when I would choose spending all day in Nana’s swimming pool and three grape sodas a day over family vacations (lol), I used to admire her rows of perfectly pruned pink rose bushes! Her favorite flowers were pink roses and Star Gazer Lillies. At her funeral (I swear this isn’t going to get dark), we had mountainous arrangements incorporating the two, plus a few Diet Dr. Peppers for good measure 😉 With those pink hued florals for inspiration, we created the Shirley Rose!
Something I’m super proud of is the fact that each cocktail at You & Yours is specifically designed to highlight a specific flavor note or aspect of the spirits. With the Shirley Rose, our aim was to shine a light on the beautiful floral finish of Sunday Gin. My favorite ingredient in Sunday Gin is rose hip so to amplify the floral, subtly sweet and fruity flavor of those we added a rose petal tea syrup and balanced it simply with lemon juice. It’s essentially a rose lemonade, just way more special. Scroll down for the full recipe below. Cheers to you, Nana!
- 1.5 oz Sunday Gin
- .75 oz rose petal tea syrup (recipe below)
- .5 oz fresh lemon juice
Directions: Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 10 seconds to chill thoroughly. Strain into a stemless wine glass and garnish with a slice of lemon and a mini rose!
Rose Petal Tea Syrup: Steep 1 cup of your favorite rose petal tea – we get ours from Point Loma Tea. Let steep as directed. Add one cup of sugar. Dissolve, cool and store in the fridge.
When creating the debut menu for our cocktail program at You & Yours, I knew I wanted at least one savory-leaning drink on the menu. Savory cocktails are popping up more and more on cocktsil menus these days and they just so happen to be one of my favorite styles of drinks. In fact, if ordering a bartender’s choice I almost always opt for “gin, savory, rocks.” I’d enjoyed cocktails in the past incorporating bell pepper, carrot and beet juices or purees and so I set out to create a couple of drinks with those vegetal flavors in mind. First up, the Side Salad.
What started out as an idea for a kale & pear gimlet riff (back when we thought our open date was going to fall mid-winter), morphed into a fresh, herbaceous bell pepper and basil concoction with a killer contrast of textures. After playing around with a few methods of flavor extraction, we settled on juicing the green bell pepper and basil together. From there we incorporated just the tiniest hint of honey simple syrup to compliment the grassiness and a pinch of sea salt to balance and tip the end result even more towards the savory end of the spectrum. To top it all off, we went with an herb-infused olive oil garnish, which ultimately gave way to the name. Y&Y Vodka was a no-brainer for this cocktail, as I wanted the freshness of the drink to be unhindered by anything too citrusy or floral (a.k.a. our Sunday Gin).
- 1.5 oz Y&Y Vodka
- 1 oz green bell pepper basil honey mix* (recipe to follow)
- .5 oz fresh lime juice
- pinch of sea salt
- 5 drops, Tuscan herb-infused olive oil
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake for 15 seconds. Double strain into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with 5 or 6 drops of olive oil in a straight line along the diameter of the glass. Enjoy!
*green bell pepper basil honey mix: juice one green bell pepper with one large handful fresh basil. Add 1/4 oz honey simple syrup (1:1). Keep refrigerated.
A memory popped up on my FB newsfeed over the long weekend from three years ago, a photo of my mom and I on my college graduation day. THREE YEARS?! It feels like forever but in reality, is such a short span of time. I cannot believe in that time, I wrote a business plan, spent 10+ months studying distilling, pitched (what felt like) a zillion people, raised capital, built a distillery and launched a tasting room and two flagship products. It’s like my brain’s been on autopilot and now my dreams are coming true left and right. I don’t know what to say other than THANK YOU and p.s. – there is absolutely no substitute for hard work and doing the right thing.
Now that we’ve got the post-grad nostalgia out of the way, why don’t I TELL YOU ABOUT IT! You & Yours is California’s first urban destination distillery and by that I mean we are the first open-to-the-public distillery in an urban neighborhood in the whole state! Pretty cool and btw, not f’in easy to do.
The 2200 square foot space features our production floor (tours coming soon!) and a gorgeous tasting room, separated by a stunning 15-seat bar. The tasting room is open Thursdays through Sundays and as mentioned, distillery tours will be available for sign up on our website v v soon. Until then, drop by for a tasting flight or cocktail! And don’t forget to grab a bottle on your way out.
So how’s it going? SO. GOOD. Absolutely no complaints! Every weekend is better than the one before and I’m constantly seeing both new and repeat faces come through the doors. We’re booking events like nobody’s business and the feedback on both spirits is so humbling. Our cocktail menu has been the draw thus far but I’m excited to get more of the distillery crowd in once we launch our tours. Now that the tasting room is hitting a stride, I’m also pumped to hit the ground running with distribution and see our spirits out in the wild!
I’m dropping the “I” a lot in this post and it is downright criminal. I (dammit, did it again) would not be here, running a distillery, without an insanely talented, dedicated group of people. Phase 1 of the not-so-short list is below…
Luke – my business partner, life partner, and head bus boy. I’m not one to get sappy on the interwebs, but suffice it to say You & Yours would not be what it is, if anything at all, without your never-take-no-for-an-answer mindset and constant encouragement. Dez bug and I love you.
Investor team – Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank youuuuuuuuuuuuuu for taking a chance on me and this idea. I won’t let you down.
Trevor – Our fearless tasting room ring leader… you stepped up in a BIG way right when Y&Y needed you and I am so so so incredibly grateful that you did. Working alongside you every week is perhaps one of my favorite things about this wild ride. Thank you.
Johnny mf’ing Levan – UGH, YOU ARE SO TALENTED. Thank you for making all the little things so damn beautiful. It’s only the beginning.
Bill & Steve – Your generosity knows no bounds. Thank you for everything!
MOM DAD – I won’t say thanks for not telling me not to do this because you definitely told me not to do this, HAH, but thanks are in order nonetheless because I did it anyway and LOOK!!! For real though, I appreciate your support, encouragement, and cheerleading more than you will ever know.
P.S. Stay tuned for more thank you’s and shout outs here soon. It quite literally took a village so I’ll be writing a series of posts diving deeper into how different aspects of Y&Y came to be, specifically the tasting room interiors, brand identity + packaging, production equipment, and our cocktail program.
P.P.S. In addition to more Y&Y-centered content, get ready for the return of our regularly scheduled programming! I.e. cocktail recipes, spirit reviews, niche spirit 101, and budget-friendly roundups. I’ll also be introducing a guest blogger or two, as well as some new complimentary content in the coming months.
With construction at the distillery space well under way (follow me on Snap to see some behind the scenes progress! @laurakj11), we’ve finally begun recipe testing for our debut cocktail menu! Being the Distillerista that I am, I’ve always known that my place of business would never be the type of establishment to serve generic mixers out of a gun. That in mind, I went to town sourcing specialty tonics and sodas for our cocktail program. Enter East Imperial. East Imperial is a New Zealand-based company specializing in super high quality and super low sugar mixers. I like to think of them as the hipper, southern hemisphere version of Fever Tree.
The guys at East Imperial were kind enough to send us a sampling of each of their products and although my love for their ginger beer knows no bounds, it’s this Yuzu Tonic that has me most excited! If you’re not familiar with yuzu, it’s a north-Asian citrus fruit that tastes like a cross between a mandarin and a Meyer lemon. This yuzu-flavored tonic water is both the perfect subtle twist on my usual G&T and a necessary exclamation point to this yuzu-based cocktail I created for a competition recently. The yuzu flavor is true as can be, not at all artificial, and subtle enough to compliment but not overwhelm premium spirits. If you’re looking to delight and impress your holiday guests this season, pick up a twenty-four-pack here (Trust me, they’ll go fast!).
Happy spring lovely Distillerista readers!
As you may or may not know, I started Distillerista as both an industry resource and an outlet to keep friends, family and craft spirit enthusiasts informed on the progress of my upcoming distilling venture, You & Yours Distilling Co. Since then, Distillerista has grown into an insanely fun and ever-inspiring passion project where I share cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, informative “beginner’s” guides to niche spirit categories and my personal favorite, interviews with fellow distillers. Working on Distillerista over the last twelve months has been a dream, so thank you most sincerely for coming along on the ride with me!
What I’ve yet to give you guys a real peek into is our progress on said distilling venture. The last year has been a major labor of love to make this distillery happen, so if there’s ever a week or two where Distillerista goes MIA, there’s a good chance it’s because I’ve been up to my eyeballs in Y&Y business. That said, it’s high time you guys got the scoop! Here’s what you need to know…
- Name: You & Yours Distilling Co.
- What we’re all about: Bringing friends and family together over elevated imbibing experiences. Fun, crowd-pleasing spirits created with backyard barbecues, first dates, dinner parties and Sunday brunch on the patio in mind.
- What we’re going to make: A few different styles of gin, a vodka or two, Eau de Vies (un aged fruit brandies – a.k.a. what you should be splashing into your champagne) and eventually, the good stuff: whiskey!
- Where: in the heart of downtown San Diego! Up and coming East Village to be exact, just a stone’s throw from the convention center, Petco Park and the historic Gaslamp quarter.
- Will I able to visit? Hell. Yasss. We’ll have hours open to the public for you to enjoy tastings, tours and best of all, COCKTAILS in a swanky and intimate urban setting! That’s right people, Y&Y will be a bonafide destination distillery. We can’t wait to welcome you in.
- When is this sh*t happening? Stay tuned – we’re hoping for a late summer opening.
- How can I get involved? Like Y&Y on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and if you really want to be a badass, order some branded gear from our online shop! (These aren’t regular t-shirts, these are cool t-shirts) Oh! And share this post on social media!
To be clear, Distillerista and You & Yours will remain completely separate animals. You’ll continue to hear about Y&Y progress in upcoming posts, but as always Distillerista will continue to function first and foremost as a colorful, inspiration-filled and easy to digest online resource for all things craft spirits. On that note, please shoot me a message or comment on social media with things you’d like to see on Distillerista. Looking for a new whiskey cocktail to make at home? A boozy wedding gift idea? The best bar tools perhaps? Let me know, your wish is my command!
It’s going to be a hell of a summer y’all. Get excited and stay thirsty!
P.S. Check us out on Eater San Diego!