Infused Book Review + Lavender Provençal Lemonade

Infused-Book-Review-Lavender-Lemonade-1{ Infused: 100+ Recipes for Infused Liqueurs and Cocktails | Susan Ella MacNeal, Leigh Beisch }

You know your parents have you pegged when your Mom and Dad – unbeknownst to each other I might add – gift you a spirit infuser contraption and Infused, a coffee table book full of different at-home infusion ideas, respectfully, for Christmas. As was the case this past holiday season, and I have to say, both gifts have come in very handy. I tend to come up with random ideas on a whim and not surprisingly, they don’t always work out well. (Candy Cane Vodka, Lime-cello *cough*, *cough*) Thankfully I can now just consult Infused and quickly reference the book’s tips on how long to infuse different ingredients in different spirits. It’d make a great gift for any budding mixologist (21 and over, of course) or even a bride and groom putting together their first home bar. In addition to pages and pages of infusion ideas, Infused also includes several chapters of customizable cocktail recipes in which to use your newly made flavored spirits. Get the book here, then whip up one of my favorite recipes, Lavender Provençal Lemonade, made with some Lavender-infused London Dry Gin. The perfect end-of-summer treat.

Lavender-Gin-Distillerista{ Sempli Spirit Incanter | Anthropologie Tumblers }

Lavender Infused Gin or Vodka (page 21)

Ingredients:

  • 1 750 mL Bottle Gin or Vodka
  • 3 Tbsp Dried lavender buds
  • 1/4-1 C Simple syrup, optional (I most often choose not to add sugar to my infusions, as it tends to mask the flavor(s) I’m trying to procure)

Directions: In a clean glass bottle or a spirit infuser such as the Sempli Spirit Incanter shown here, combine spirits and lavender. Seal tightly and let infuse, away from heat or direct sunlight, for 2-3 weeks, tasting every few days or so for preferred intensity. *I only left mine for 3-4 days and the lavender flavor was delicate but definitely there, so be sure to taste regularly!* Once the right flavor is achieved, strain out lavender and add simple syrup if desired. (Keep in mind the longer you let the lavender infuse, the more simple syrup you might want to add to balance the flavor) Using a funnel, store liquid in original or other glass bottle. Keep away from heat and direct sunlight and enjoy for up to 1 month!

Infused-Review-Lavender-Gin-Lemon

Lavender Provençal Lemonade (page 77)

Makes 1 drink

Ingredients:

  • 2 Oz Lavender-infused Gin or Vodka
  • 1/2 C Fresh lemonade
  • Ice
  • Dried lavender buds and/or lemon wheel to garnish

Directions:

  1. Pour Gin or Vodka into a chilled collins glass
  2. Add ice and top with lemonade
  3. Give it a few stirs and garnish with lavender and/or lemon
  4. Cheers & enjoy!

Infused-Review-Lavender-Gin-Lemon-Craft-Spirits

Lavender-Lemonade-Gin-Cocktail

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Thanks to Megan of Shortography for the photos!

Distiller Interview: Michael Skubic, Old Harbor Distilling Co.

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{ Michael Skubic, Founder + Distiller, Old Harbor Distilling Co. | San Diego, CA }

If you consider yourself “in-the-know” re: San Diego’s craft cocktail scene, chances are you’re familiar with Old Harbor Distilling Co.’s proprietor, Michael Skubic – a true local San Diegan to the core,  first made his mark in the early days of SD’s craft beer boom (as one of the founding partners of Hess Brewing) and has now taken his time and talents to the world of craft spirits. He’s currently pumping out some of what I would consider to be the most intriguing and meticulously crafted spirits in southern California. Want proof? The “Skubic Driver” at Ironside Fish & Oyster just won Best Cocktail by San Diego Magazine. Keep reading to meet one of San Diego’s true craft pioneers!

  1. Explain a little bit about your background and how you came to have an interest in distilling?

I will try to make this quick… I started out as someone who drank exclusively whiskey, but in college my roommate was into homebrewing, spurred on by his dad’s love of the art, we got pretty into it. While I was attending PLNU, I was also interning for Mike Hess who had plans to eventually open up a brewpub in Colorado. I helped write the first draft of a business plan for that with my best friend who was also interning for Mike working on that project.

I graduated in 2009, the job market was non-existent, Instead of going back to school for an MBA, I went back to Mike Hess with an idea to perhaps start a craft brewery in my head… only because I knew that was potentially on his horizon as well.

Mike’s business partner, Ben Hodge, had read about “Nanobreweries” taking off up in the PNW and suggested we try that model. So we did. Hess Brewing was born out of necessity. Not a lot of capital but lots of love and hard work. It worked out great. They got so popular they had to expand to a second larger location in North Park.

Somewhere in between that point and when Old Harbor opened, we had collaborated with URBN Pizza in North Park on a (b)URBN Barrel Age Imperial Rye Stout because they had purchased an entire cask of Elmer T. Lee Bourbon and got to keep the barrel. At the release of that beer we also released a fresh batch of “Ex Umbris Rye Imperial Sout” and paired it with the aged stout and the bourbon that came out of the barrel. I decided (or perhaps, remembered) that night I preferred whiskey to beer…

That lead me down a path of drinking lots of whiskey and doing lots of research into the science / business of distilling. Two years and one month later I was having the soft opening of Old Harbor Distilling Co. Thankfully it was not my first rodeo in the alcohol business… without the prior experience at Hess, starting Old Harbor would have been nearly impossible.

  1. How did you come to the decision to actually pursue distilling?

Whiskey was my end goal. I happen to love all forms alcohol, so this seemed like a good idea.

  1. Opening a distillery is a lengthy, difficult and expensive process. What was the most challenging speed bump on the road to opening Old Harbor?

Fire Code… but, there are many bumps in the road. One thing I wish (and I should have known better) is that I would have asked other distillers for more help. The industry is open and willing to help newcomers. Just ask.

{ Image courtesy Caava Design, who also deserve major cred for Old Harbor’s gorgeous branding }

  1. Why did you choose San Diego, and in what ways do you feel the culture here aligns with Old Harbor’s vibe or unique selling point?

I was born and raised in Southern California. I am not moving anywhere else. Sunshine tax be damned. Old Harbor is based off of the history of San Diego. San Miguel (our flagship Southwestern Gin) is named after the original title bestowed upon this city by Juan Rodriguez Cabrilllo. We try to keep all our branding / products grounded in some aspect of our history. Our rum, for example, is Navy Strength—a nod to our history as a navy town.

  1. In terms of a hypothetical anonymity – to – mainstream spectrum (On a scale of 1-10, 1 being “completely unknown” and 10 “house hold notion”), where do you feel the American “craft” Distilling industry/movement is today? Also, how quickly do you see it moving towards that mainstream anchor point?

Five & Five years. Maybe 1 and 1 year. Hard to say. I am in the business so my perception is skewed… I feel like EVERYONE knows about craft spirits, when in reality, NOBODY does.

  1. Where or who do you feel is the driving, innovative force behind our craft distilling industry right now? 

Places like Portland. Seattle. NYC. Colorado. Texas… but mind you, California is home to two of the most OG distillers: St. George Spirits & Anchor Distilling Co.

  1. Name a few other distillers or distilleries who inspire you.
  •             Dry Fly
  •             Tate & Co.
  •             Lost Spirits
  •             FEW Spirits
  •             Clear Creek
  •             Leopold Bros.
  •             Germain Robin
  •             Corsair Distilling
  •             Garrison Brothers.
  •             New York Distilling Co.
  •             Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits

Old-Harbor-SanDiegoVilla-Distillerista{ Old Harbor’s Product Lineup | Image courtesy SanDiegoVille.com }

  1. Where do you see Old Harbor in 10 years? What do you want to be known for?

Sitting on a beach with lots of Diageo’s money. . . Just kidding. Releasing our first 10 year old Single Malt Whisky? That is a long ways away, but ideally being respected by the bar community and home enthusiasts a-like. I have plans to release products in MANY categories, so if I can manage to make all of our releases pleasing to people who like spirits in that category, but also get them excited and passionate about what we are doing… then I am doing my job right.

I am a huge nerd when it come to most things in life: movies, TV, books, music, beer, wine, art… so if I don’t think what I am making is top notch I won’t release it. It took me 18 months to develop San Miguel Southwestern Gin and we still slightly tweak each recipe for good measure to “perfect” the recipe. It took about 2/3 that time for Barrelflag Navy Strength Rum. The coffee liqueur, which we have not released yet, has been in the works for over a year. We do not rush things here at Old Harbor Distilling Co. I plan on being in the business for a lifetime.

If you get into this business to make money quick, then you are in for a rude awakening. Expect to make almost no money for a long, long time.

  1. Your favorite thing about coming to work each day?

Being my own boss… but really, I absolutely love creating a product from scratch that I get to see out in the world. Going to a bar that is making some badass cocktail with my spirit is more rewarding than anything I can imagine. Probably up there with having a child… but I don’t have one of those, so maybe not?

  1. I’m sure you’re familiar with the tradition of distillery cats… does your operation have a feline mascot? 

We do… his name is Richard and he is the cutest, yet ferocious! He came on the recommendation of a close friend Greg.

IMG_1539{ Meet Richard! the “Cat” }

  1. Your location in East Village could be seen as either (or both) an investment and a gamble. What was the driving factor behind your decision to be downtown?
              I don’t like commutes & the building was exactly what I wanted. The East Village is a rough place to have a business currently. Lots of issues with zoning, homeless, etc… but it is my neighborhood and I love it. I think that in the future it will be one of the most exciting ‘hoods in all of San Diego, if it’s not already.

{ Old Harbor Tasting Room | Book your tour here! | Image Courtest SanDiego.Eater.com}

Thanks again Michael! Make sure to pick up Old Harbor’s Barrelflag Navy Strength Rum & San Miguel Southwestern Gin at a San Diego liquor store near you. The latter makes a bomb Gimlet! And keep an eye out for the release of Ampersand Coffee Liqueur. Cheers!

*Top Image courtesy SanDiegoHomeGarden.com

José Andrés’ Mexican Gin & Tonic

Mexican-G-and-T-Cover

I have a somewhat mandatory tradition upon landing in Las Vegas of heading immediately to Chef José Andrés’ epic Chinese & Mexican food mecca China Poblano at the Cosmopolitan. A big boozy lunch with friends before hitting the pools is my idea of a perfect start to the weekend. On one recent trip, I was introduced to the cocktail perfection that is José Andrés’ Mexican Gin & Tonic. It seems simple enough on paper: Bombay Sapphire, some tonic water, a few garnishes and a splash of St. Germain. But don’t be fooled by the seemingly basic ingredient list… this is without a doubt the best G & T I’ve ever had. Not only is the drink impossibly beautiful and delicate, it has an intoxicating aroma – thanks to those gorgeous botanical garnishes – that grabs you as soon as the drink hits the table. Served in a gorgeous stemless wine tumbler, each sip is perfectly cool and effervescent, with just the right amount of sweet floral kick from the elderflower liqueur. Next time you’re in Vegas, it’s an absolute must. Until then, here’s my take on recreating the drink at home.

China-Poblano-Mexican-Gin-Tonic

Makes 1 drink.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin  – Although any citrusy Western-style Gin would be wonderful as well
  • 1 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 4 oz Fever Tree Tonic Water
  • fresh Orange Peel
  • small Sprig of Cilantro
  • 1 whole Coriander Seed
  • 1 fresh marigold (Calendula) edible flower – special thanks to Specialty Produce for these beauties!
  • 1 large whiskey cube – or sphere-shaped ice mold – I like keep a couple of these in my freezer for such occasions.

Mexican-Gin-Tonic-Distillerista-Flowers

Directions:

  1. Place ice cube/sphere in a large stemless wine glass or DOF
  2. Gently pour in Gin, St. Germain and top with tonic water
  3. Quickly and carefully arrange botanicals – orange twist, cilantro, coriander seed, and marigold – in the drink, giving the orange twist and cilantro a little smack in your hands beforehand to release the oils.
  4. Give it a gentle swirl and enjoy!

Distillerista-Mexican-Gin-Tonic-Cocktail DSC_0268 Mexican-Gin-Tonic-MarigoldMexican-Gin-Tonic

P.S. The ‘When Pigs Fly’ steamed buns, Cochinita Taco and Twenty-Vegetable Fried Rice are also not to be missed! 😉

P.P.S. Photos by Megan of Shortography!

Peach Rosé-a-ritas

Sparkling-Peach-Margarita-Distillerista

{ Glass Pitcher purchased on the side of the road in Baja }

My dear friend Caroline’s recipe blog, Colorful Eats, is a source of constant inspiration and eye-candy. Her easy to make and gorgeously captured grain- and refined sugar-free recipes are what prompted me to go Paleo Monday through Friday. Since switching to an 80% grain- and sugar-free lifestyle about a year ago, I have more energy and am naturally more focused at work. And incase you hadn’t noticed, thanks to Caroline, most of the drink recipes you’ll see here on Distillerista use only natural, unrefined sugars and as many fresh fruit and vegetable juices and purées as possible.

Needless to say, ever since I launched Distillerista I’ve been dying to collaborate with Caroline. I took full advantage of her extended summer stay here in San Diego last month and invited her over to help me come up with something new and paleo-friendly. (She lives in Hawaii most of the time where her husband – my cousin and bff! – is stationed in the Navy.) We got together on a particularly hot July day and mixed up these scrumptious sparkling peach margaritas in honor of prime peach season. While alcohol in general isn’t exactly paleo-approved, Tequila is a relatively low-sugar spirit and also happens to be Caroline’s go-to. As for the sparkling wine… well, what can I say… any opportunity to spend a little time with friends is something to celebrate!

Craft-Cocktail-Recipe-Sparkling-Peach-Margarita

Makes 8 Drinks

Ingredients:

  • 4 C Peach purée (see recipe below)
  • 3 C Good quality Tequila; Casamigos is a current favorite
  • 2 C Fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 Bottle good quality sparkling rosé; I like Lucien Albrecht (I get it here for just $15 a bottle!)

Directions:

  1. Make & chill the peach purée
  2. Combine peach purée, tequila and lime juice in a large pitcher or drink dispenser. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour, up to overnight
  3. As guests arrive, or when ready to serve, pour Tequila mixture into chilled margarita glasses and top with a splash of sparkling rosé
  4. Garnish with a fresh peach slice and wedge of lime
  5. Cheers & enjoy!

Peach Puree: Pit and dice 6 large or 8 small peaches and combine in a medium sauce pan with a splash of water. Simmer over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool, then blend well in a high-speed blender or food processor and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Chill for at least two hours, up to overnight. Makes roughly 4 cups.

Craft-Cocktail-Recipe-Peach-rose-Margarita

Extras:

  • As I mentioned before, Caroline avoids sugar so these margaritas are on the not-so-sweet side. If a sweeter drink is desired, add up to a half cup of raw honey when blending your peach purée.
  • These margaritas are a bit thick thanks to the fresh peach purée, so feel free to thin the purée out with a bit more water to achieve your desired consistency.
  • If you don’t have access to fresh peaches or want to make these Margaritas during another part of the year, feel free to use frozen peaches for an icier, frozen-style margarita

Rose-Craft-Cocktail-Recipe-Peach-Margarita

{ Matching glasses stumbled upon excitedly at HomeGoods }

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P.S. Check out a few of Caroline’s paleo cocktail recipes: Blackberry Mojitos, Pink Grapefruit Sparklers & Sunrise Squeeze!

P.P.S. Since I can’t work a camera to save my life, Caroline thankfully snapped these drool-worthy photos for us. Download her food photography and styling guide, Scrumptious & Styled, here!

Free E-Book! Classic Cocktail Recipes Vol. 1

So if you’ve been so kind as to sign up for the Distillerista email newsletter, you might be aware you were promised a free E-Book! Well… a couple months later, it’s finally here! Working on both launching a blog and opening a legal distillery at the same time is just a teeeenssyyy bit time-consuming and this E-Book project fell through the cracks. #Sorry!

EBook Cover final copy{ E-book Cover!}

But the good new is, 1. it should be in your inbox right this very minute! and 2. it’s FRIDAY! Print that baby out – or don’t, we love trees – and get to making some classic cocktails tonight!

P.S. If you haven’t already, sign up for the Distillerista Newsletter on the side bar to the right! –>

The cocktails in this debut Distillerista E-book include the perfect Moscow Mule, a fool-proof Martini and the best ever Manhattan. Each recipe is accompanied by drool-worthy photos à la Megan of Shortography, as well as some tips, extras and creative ways to make the drinks your own.

Enjoy, tell your friends and spread the love by following Distillerista on Twitter, Instagram and liking us on Facebook!

Cheers to the weekend!

Five Favorites: Western Gin

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With the rise of craft distilling in America inevitably comes a wave of rebellion against the traditional way of things. Case in point: Leave it to us Americans to take the juniper-bomb London Dry Gins of yesteryear and turn them on their head. Distilleries like 209, Brooklyn Gin and Greenhook are pumping out gorgeous new styles of Gin using juniper berries as a connective tissue if-you-will to enhance other botanicals, as opposed to juniper acting as the dominant flavor component. As is also the case with the rise of craft spirits, the “big guys” love to come around and make their presence in these new niche markets well known. As a devoted Gin drinker, here are five of my favorite status-quo abolishing gins, including a few from the giants and a few regional craft offerings. P.S. “Western-style” can be used to describe any Gin where juniper is not the overwhelmingly dominant flavor. P.P.S. You could say that Western Gins aren’t technically Gins at all, as by law a Gin must have juniper as the “main characteristic flavor,” according to the Federal Government’s Beverage Alcohol Manual. Oooooh, sneaky!

1. Hendrick’s | Hendrick’s Gin | Scotland

Okay okay, although technically one of the “big guys,” no article on Western-style Gins would be complete without mentioning Hendrick’s. Hendrick’s has challenged the notion that Gin should have a strong, juniper-forward flavor profile from day one. This spirit has earned a cult following thanks to refreshing cucumber and rose petal notes up front and a myriad of other delectable floral notes on the finish. Hendrick’s Gin is a great intro into the worlds of both Gin in general and Western Gins.

Distillerista-5-Western-Gins-Hendricks

2. Tanqueray No. 10 | Tanqueray Gin | England originally, now made in Scotland

This is a perfect example of a big-budget, traditionally London Dry brand offering a modern take on the traditional to keep up with changing times. Supposedly made in their No. 10 experimental still with fresh citrus, Tanqueray No. 10 definitely delivers a lighter, more approachable flavor profile than that of the original. This, along with Hendrick’s, is one of my favorite spirits to keep on hand.

3. Aviation | Aviation Gin | Portland, OR

Aviation was one of the original American craft distilleries to offer a Western-style Gin. Using notoriously hard-to-get-it-right botanicals such as lavender, Aviation paints a picture of their native Pacific Northwest in every bottle. Their proprietary mix of botanical makes a great Martini or G & T.

Distillerista-5-Western-Gins-Aviation

4. American Dry Gin | Greenhook Ginsmiths | Brooklyn, New York

Greenhook’s American Dry Gin is something of a hybrid between a London Dry and Western-style Gin. Lush and aromatic botanicals like elderflower and chamomile get you on the nose and up front, followed by spicy cracked black peppercorn and a generous dose of both cinnamon and juniper notes to round everything out. A unique, attention-grabbing Gin to try. I also recommend picking up their Beach Plum Gin Liqueur – great for champagne cocktails or drizzling over gelato.

5. Brooklyn Gin | Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn Gin is another delicious and ultra-refreshing citrus-forward Gin. By using 100% fresh citrus peels – cut by hand before every distillation – and freshly cracked juniper berries, the makers of this addictively juicy spirit help to solidify Brooklyn as a major hub for American craft distilling. Good enough to drink on it’s own, or with a splash of tonic.

Distillerista-5-Western-Gins-Brooklyn

Give one of these non-traditional Gins a try in your next cocktail. And be sure to share snaps of your drinks with the hashtag #Distillerista. Cheers!

The Best Tequila for Every Budget

Welcome to a new Distillerista series, Booze For Every Budget. Besides the fact that today is very conveniently National Tequila Day (!!!), I chose to feature Tequila first because it’s one of those spirits – at least in my opinion – that you just don’t want to get on the cheap… Seriously, I wouldn’t wish a shot of shit tequila on my worst enemy but that’s just me. Luckily good quality doesn’t necessarily translate to pricey when it comes to Tequila. To prove it, I’ve rounded up some great options for todos los budgets. Enjoy!

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Under $20: Cien Años On my first trip to Baja I asked a local to recommend me a good bottle of tequila at a reasonable price. He answered with Cien Años and I’ve been a fan of this value Tequila ever since. For a cool twenty bucks or less, it has a surprisingly smooth finish and is a great option for parties or big batches of margaritas

Under $30: Espolón About three years ago, Espolón started winning mad awards and consequently flew off shelves, not to be seen again for quite a while. Thankfully it’s back on the market and just as delicious as ever. The Blanco and Reposado are both conveniently between $25 and $30 if you prefer one style to the other.

Under $40: Herradura The Herradura brand is old favorite of mine. Consistently full-bodied and rich, it’s the perfect foil to tart grapefruit juice in a Paloma. Like Espolón, both the Silver and Reposado are under the forty dollar mark.

Under $50: Casamigos Blanco Casamigos is a relatively recent find for me. I usually don’t go for celebrity-endorsed brands, but Casamigos’ flavor profile stands on it’s own, with or without George Clooney’s laser-printed signature on the label. I prefer the Reposado if given the choice but the Blanco clocks in at just under fifty bucks and has great character for a silver tequila.

Splurge: Tequila Ocho Reposado ($60) Tequila Ocho seems to be the current darling of the “craft” Tequila brands. Bottled in a shape one would most associate with Vodkas, Tequila Ocho’s packaging oozes class. It comes as no surprise the liquid in side does too. This would make for an ideal birthday, hostess or wedding gift.

Ball Out: Fortaleza Anejo ($80) Fortaleza was recently named Men’s Journal’s Best Premium Tequila in the World, and for good reason. Sadly I find it hard to spot this elusive Tequila around town so if and when you do see a bottle, be sure to snap it up. And for the love of God, do not make Margaritas with it. This liquid gold is best enjoyed neat in a Brandy snifter.

Any great Tequilas I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

Distiller Interview: Bill Rogers, Liberty Call Distilling Co.

IMG_0743*{ Steve, Bill and Addison of Liberty Call Distilling Co. | San Diego, CA }

For the second installment of our Distiller Interview series I tapped Bill Rogers, President and Founder of Liberty Call Distilling Co. Beyond my personal affinity for Liberty Call’s patriotic Navy flair (several of my extended family serve or have served in all three branches of the Military), I also have a deep respect for Bill’s unapologetic dedication to the craft. He and his team use only premium ingredients to craft their delicious rums, gin and whiskies. They’re also creating some worthy buzz – along with a few other San Diego distillers – by pioneering new and exciting methods of aging (battery-powered barrel agitators anyone?). Read on to learn more about Bill and Liberty Call! 

1. Explain a little bit about your background and how and when you began to have an interest in distilling. 

I have 15 years of experience in Sales and Marketing, including 2 years selling Budweiser and Corona. I have a background in Chemistry, and I used to home brew a lot. A couple of years ago one of my chemistry buddies asked me if I’d be interested in getting a small still to make moonshine. I said a small still doesn’t make enough alcohol, and that we needed a bigger one. Now we are here.

2. How did you come to the decision to actually pursue distilling? Tell us how you settled on the name Liberty Call.

I looked at what it would actually take to make alcohol and to make a profit. I talked with a lot of distillers and saw that a small distillery could be profitable quickly if you kept the breakeven low. After crunching numbers my wife gave me her blessing and I decided to open up. My partner, Steve, is a Navy vet, and I grew up in Coronado with a Dad that was in the Navy. Liberty Call is the term used for sailors when they are on leave (R&R) in port. We thought it was a good idea to have a Navy themed distillery due to the large naval influence in San Diego.

IMG_0696*{ Getting ready to bottle a batch of Gin }

3. Opening a distillery is a lengthy, difficult and expensive process. What was the most challenging speed bump on the road to opening Liberty Call?

The never ending legal hurdles are the most challenging. We’re constantly trying to stay in compliance with the ABC and TTB, but there is usually no one that you can go to for answers. The gov’t is so arbitrary in their answers. It’s quite frustrating, and really is one of the reasons that we started a guild in San Diego. Each guild member wants to help each other out, and we compare notes to see how we can get through the bureaucracy

4. Why did you choose San Diego for Liberty Call, and in what ways do you feel the culture here aligns with Liberty Call’s vibe or unique selling point?

We live in San Diego. We we’re about to move somewhere else to start a new venture. San Diegans are very much into craft beer, maybe more so than anywhere else in the US. We wanted to capitalize on that and get the craft beer drinkers to put down the Bacardi and pick up some real craft spirits. That’s easier said than done, but they are our target market.

IMG_0717*{ Making the most of tight quarters with a compact four plate column }

5. In terms of a hypothetical ‘anonymity – to – mainstream’ spectrum, where do you feel the American “craft” distilling industry/movement is today, and how would you describe this current state?

In the US, the spectrum is about a 5, but in San Diego it’s about a 2. Other than Ballast Point, most people don’t know that there are other distilleries in San Diego. The needle is slowly getting moved as more and more craft distillers enter the market. It’ll probably take a couple years for there to be a real shift in the culture, but we feel it’s going to happen.

6. Where, or who, do you feel is the driving, innovative force behind craft distilling right now?

Seattle and the Washington Northwest are really putting out some good products. New York, and Oregon aren’t far behind. That being said, California is starting to get some really good distilleries that are doing off-the-wall stuff.

IMG_0693*{ Weathered barrels being used to finish a batch of Whiskey }

7. Name a few other distillers or distilleries you’re inspired by.

Lost Spirits in Monterrey has to be considered one of the top innovators in the country. They are making spirits that no one else is making, and they’re delicious. They also have innovated the industry with their aging processes and we could see some ground breaking technology spread through the industry because of them. St. George Spirits is one the original “Micro” distillers. They have a great approach to the craft and definitely lead the way in regards to getting legislation reform in CA.

8. Where do you see Liberty Call in 10 years? What do you want to be known for?

In 10 years we would like to be in a stand-alone building that we designed from scratch. We’re going to make the spectrum when it comes to spirits, but we are just starting to get into our whiskey program. We want to be known for taking risks and coming up with unique spirits that no one else has the guts to do.

9. Your favorite thing about coming to work each day? Free drinks

IMG_0740{ The Team: Addison, Bill & Steve }

10. I’m sure you’re familiar with the tradition of distillery cats… does your operation have a feline mascot? If so, name and story please!

No cats, but we have a dog named Rufus that can be seen from time to time. Usually sleeping.

10. I love how you’re targeting Coronado as a home base for your spirits. How is that effort going and what are some of your favorite Coronado spots to eat and drink?

Steve and I both live in Coronado and we know a lot of the local businesses. They really helped us out and brought us in. It’s nice to know that you are wanted in a small community. Saiko Sushi, Little Club, Candelas, and High Tide Bottle Shop all gave our spirits a chance. Not surprisingly they are all places where we can be found enjoying a drink. Saiko makes fantastic craft cocktails, while the bartenders in Little Club all promote our drinks. High Tide created a display just for us that is front and center when you walk in the door. Candelas is a Mexican restaurant that brought in our Gin just to give us a shot. You can’t beat the view at Candelas, it’s one of the best on the bay.

IMG_0688*{ Gin, Spiced Rum & Light Rum }

11. What is the first thing someone just stumbling upon the craft liquor trend should know about the industry?

Be careful when buying craft. If it doesn’t say “Distilled By” with the name of the company on it, it was probably made somewhere else. There are a lot of “craft” distillers that don’t make their own product, and the industry is suffering from it. Well said. Thanks, Bill!

Be sure to check out Liberty Call’s tasting room (Open to the public Fridays 4-7 & Saturdays 1-5) in Spring Valley and keep a lookout for their upcoming Groupon!

Huge thanks to Daniel Dreher for the photos! Check out Dan’s website and Instagram

The Best Alcohol Delivery Services

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Hands up if you’ve been in one of these three scenarios…

  1. You’re in the thick of an epic house party and all of a sudden, you realize the hosts’ve run out of booze. You shuffle through the fridge looking for any straggling cans of beer, pilfer through someone you don’t know’s room looking for a lazy half-drank bottle of vodka, aaand you come up short.
  2. You’re semi-bored, home on a Friday night, possibly with roomates. No one necessarily wants to go out but that doesn’t mean no one wants a tasty adult beverage to go along with that take-out, side of Netflix. But wait, you’re already in your yoga pants and embarrassing middle school theatre camp t-shirt and you’re out. of. draaanks.
  3. You show up to a get together thing that you did. not. know was BYO and feel more than slightly awkward asking that guy you think you know from class if you can have a splash or five from his bottle of Captain.

All of these scenarios are painfully annoying and – thank Bacchus! – remedied by the same thing… Alcohol Delivery Services! To save you and your fellow imbibers, should any of these aforementioned sticky situations creep up on you again, I’ve crafted the definitive guide to Alcohol Delivery Services across the country! You’re Welcome.

1. Ezra’s | Although not app-based like most of the other services on this list, Ezra’s is up first because their mission holds a special place in my heart. As a distiller myself, I appreciate a company who’s main goal is to increase the information channels between distiller and end-consumer. This provides a huge leg-up for small craft distillers who may be struggling due to our three-tier dominated industry. In addition to their focus on craft spirits, I love that their emails update you in real time when high-demand products come back in stock. And they ship country-wide! While not technically an on-demand delivery service, I highly recommend using Ezra’s if you’re planning a dinner or cocktail party at your place and want to impress with some lesser-known boutique spirits.

Get 5% off your Ezra’s order with code distillerista. But be quick about it – code limited to the first 30 readers!

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2. Drizly | Drizly is one of the fastest growing on-demand alcohol delivery services. They work with the top liquor retailers in each state to provide consumers the best selection and price on their favorite beer, wine and liquor with delivery in less than an hour (and on average closer to 20-40 minutes!). They service 16 major metropolitan cities. Click here to see if yours is on the list.

The first 50 California readers (Drizly currently delivers in L.A. and Orange County only) get delivery fees waived on their first order with code DISTILLERISTA Offer Ends August 31st, 2015

iPhone Shot, Get the Door

3. Saucey | Saucey is an app, available for download on iOS or Android, that delivers beer, wine, and/or spirits to your door in less than an hour. Currently servicing the west coast in San Fransisco, L.A. and San Diego, Saucey is also planning expansions to Chicago and Dallas very soon. It’s easy as (1) Open the app, drop a pin and choose from a menu of beer, wine, spirits, cocktails and snacks (2) A Saucey driver will be on their way and get to you in about 20 minutes (3) Take delivery and enjoy anywhere, even the beach(!!!)

Get $5 off any Saucey order with code DISTILL

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4. Minibar | Minibar, another app, provides on-demand delivery of wine, spirits, beer & mixers. Minibar gives users a better way to shop by connecting them with local liquor stores to offer the best selection of products. What sets Minibar apart for me is that they also provide tasting notes, pairing recommendations, cocktail recipes, an option to send gifts for special occasions, AND they feature a “Party Planning Tool” which allows users to quickly determine how much of each spirit is needed for the perfect party. Super useful and convenient! Currently servicing 19 major metropolitan cities. Scroll down to the bottom of their home page to see if yours is included.

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Get $10 off your first Minibar order with code DISTILLERISTA

5. Thirstie | Thirstie is a leading national on-demand wine, beer and spirits delivery service that delivers in under an hour and provides curated cocktail recipes. It is redefining the way consumers shop and discover the best wine, beer or cocktail with its innovative editorial platform, The Craft. The Craft redefines the way consumers shop and discover the best wine, beers or cocktails and elevates the overall consumer experience by getting people “Thirstie” through curated and original content engagement.

The Craft (2)

Use code DISTILL10 for $10 off your order. Expires August 31.

6. DrinkFly | DrinkFly was started by two brothers in a suburb of Chicago. They’ve now grown into seven cities and continue to add more as they expand.  Drink Fly’s unique selling point is that you have the option to select the specific liquor store from which you buy.  This let’s you get your hands on some booze, quickly, AND support local business.  Win-win!

Get $5 off your first DrinkFly order with code distill5

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7. Klink | Klink is a liquor-store-to-your-door service on steroids. They strive to take the experience one step further by adding a little something extra. Whether they’re delivering liquor-infused cupcakes, sending mixologists along with larger orders to help serve drinks or partnering with a hand-crafted mixer to turn customers’ spirits orders into artisanal cocktails, they’re constantly going above and beyond.

Free delivery on two Klink orders with code distillerista 

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Recap: After downloading each app, playing around with them a bit and emailing with the various apps’ media teams, I can genuinely say I’d happily use any of the above services. As I live in Southern California, not all of them cater to me so I couldn’t actually try every service for myself. I’d advise clicking through their websites, making note of which apps deliver in your city and going from there. Enjoy the discount codes and let me know your experience. Personally,  I can’t wait to try out the Saucey app on my next beach day! Whooop whoooop!

The Gimlet: Three Ways

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A Gin gimlet has to be my favorite classic cocktail. For a couple of reasons… First, it’s so simple and yet so perfect. That blend of Gin (my most beloved spirit), tart lime and smooth sweetness just fits so perfectly into any imbibing mood I’m in. Second, it’s a genius way to introduce the Gin-averse to the error of their non-Gin-drinking ways. Simply put, it’s the perfect starter Gin cocktail. A gateway drug to the realm of Gin, if-you-will. (Ok, I’ll stop.)

However, when I first started ordering gimlets regularly I was always confused as to why I was paying craft cocktail prices for a half-ass mix of Gin and Rose’s Lime Juice… ?! Well, little did I know, that’s the way Gimlets were (sort-of) traditionally made!

First concocted as a way to encourage sailors to down scurvy-fighting lime juice, Gimlets were a common vehicle for daily Gin rations on British Naval ships. {Popular belief has it that the Royal Navy doctor during that time was Sir Thomas Gimlette.} Sailors quickly switched to Rose’s Lime Cordial – a blend of lime juice and sugar that made it easy to preserve the citrus on long oversea hauls – as it had recently been invented. All this time I’ve been scoffing at what I thought was a shitty excuse for a great classic cocktail when really I’d been drinking history! Sailors, forgive me!

While the Rose’s Lime Juice of today (corn syrup, artificial flavors, weird additives) is a far cry from what it originally was, I suppose the OG recipe is still worth including here. I’ve also added a recipe for what I consider the modern day Gimlet (The Contemporary), and a fun twist on a Vodka Gimlet for those who aren’t quite ready to come over to the Gin side (The Lime Hangar Gimlet). Mix up one of each this holiday weekend (Happy Independence Day!) and let me know which you prefer!

Each recipe makes 1 cocktail.

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The Traditional

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Pour gin & juice into a cocktail shaker or tall glass
  2. Shake or stir with ice, whatever your preference
  3. Strain into a Martini Glass and garnish with lime wheel if desired

Gimlet Three Ways Comtemporary Distillerista

The Contemporary

Ingredients:

  • 2 Oz Traditional, London-Dry or New American Style Gin (I’m using citrusy Tanqueray No. 10)
  • Juice of 1-2 limes
  • 1 tsp superfine sugar
  • Lime wheel and mint for garnish

Directions:

  1. Dry shake (no ice) lime juice and sugar for at least 60 seconds to dissolve sugar.
  2. Add gin, ice and shake.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Alternatively, strain into a chilled coupe.
  4. Garnish with lime wheel and sprig of mint. (No garnish if you went with the coupe)

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Lime Hangar Gimlet (ever so slightly adapted from the famous Ivy Gimlet)

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. Hangar One Kaffir Lime Vodka a.k.a. the only lime vodka you ever need to know about
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 5-10 Mint leaves, muddled
  • 1 tsp Superfine sugar

Directions:

  1. Combine muddled mint, citrus juice and sugar in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Dry shake (no ice) for at least 60 seconds to completely dissolve sugar.
  3. Add Vodka, a handful of ice and shake.
  4. Pour into a sugar rimmed glass filled with crushed or cubed ice and garnish with a wedge of lime and sprig of mint. As an option, top with a splash of seltzer or sparkling water. Enjoy!

Photos by the delightfully talented Megan Burgess of Shortography!