Distiller Interview: Trent Tilton of San Diego Distillery

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If you haven’t caught on by now, I’m working my way through San Diego’s craft distilling scene via these Distiller Interview posts. This week it’s Trent Tilton – and his wife Maria! – of San Diego Distillery

Trent and his wife Maria were the first people I introduced myself to at my very first San Diego Distillers Guild meeting over a year ago. They were warm and sweet, and Trent and I quickly bonded over our mutual love of Dry Fly. At the time, Trent and I were much in the same boat, working on our respective distilleries in planning, though Trent was a bit further along in the process than I was. Chatting over sculpin and duck nachos at the new Ballast Point, I got to know Trent and Maria and little better before the meeting started. As the meeting got underway I remember thinking to myself, “If everyone is this nice, I’m definitely in the right place!” They’ve since become great friends and although Trent is a leeeeeetle busy these days (read on!), I always look forward to catching up at the guild meetings for old times’ sake. 

1. Explain a little about your background and how and when you came to have an interest in distilling.
I have been a home brewer for over 15 years, starting with a standard extract kit then working my way up over the years to all-grain. When we moved into our first house, I was able to construct a small home brew system in the garage. Now that we are in a larger house, the brew system grew larger also. I currently have a 15-gallon brewery as well as five taps in a dedicated space in our kitchen. I have also worked on a 7-barrel system at a local brew pub, and was involved in recipe formulation for two of their core beers that are currently still a part of their rotating lineup.
I began to take an interest in distilling around 2011-2012. The first time I ever tried Lagavulin 16, it was a real eye-opener for me. I began to research how whiskey is made, and to my surprise and excitement, I realized that essentially making a “beer” is the first step in making whiskey.

2. How did you come to the decision to actually pursue distilling?
I came to the decision to actually pursue distilling and opening a distillery about 6 months after that life-changing sip of Lagavulin. I began to realize that the brewing world and the distilling world overlap to a point, so I decided to run with it and try a few test batches of spirits. It was during these test batches that I came to the conclusion that I would be happy doing this for a living, taking pride in a quality product that I made, and being able to share that product with others.

3. What does an average day look like for you? Do you still keep a “day job?”
I do still have a “day job” in the medical field. I work at my day job until 3:30pm on most weekdays and every other weekend. After the work day ends, that’s when my distilling day begins. I usually arrive at the distillery by 4pm where my still should be close to producing spirit at the correct temperature, after allowing the still to warm up on a timer throughout the day. I oversee the entire distillation run from heads to tails, testing for quality and the proper location of the cuts throughout. In any spare time, I routinely work on various tasks around the distillery, such as construction of our tasting room space, updating distillation logs for our monthly reports, swelling and filling barrels from previous runs, as well as general maintenance and cleaning. I usually do not leave the distillery until 10-10:30pm, making for a 16-hour work day!

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4. Opening a distillery is a lengthy, difficult and expensive process. What was the most challenging speed bump on the road to opening San Diego Distillery?
For us, the most challenging task was navigating through the maze of paperwork that is required. The application process was very extensive, but fortunately we were able to turn to friends and fellow distillery owners who helped us immensely in the process!

5. Why did you choose San Diego, and in what ways do you feel the culture here aligns with your distillery’s vibe or unique selling point?
San Diego in general is a city that is the living embodiment of what San Diego Distillery is trying to accomplish. San Diegans embrace the local movement that the craft distilling industry represents. San Diego’s craft beer culture was an especially inspiring story for us. After seeing the heights to which the craft beer industry has grown over the years, we saw no reason why the craft distilling industry couldn’t do the same. San Diegans want to buy local and support their local businesses, but it’s more than that. San Diegans want to know where the products they are buying came from, what type of ingredients were used, what is the name of the person who made it, who is the owner of the company and does he/she represent the ideals that I believe in? Because of this unique consumer mindset in our local market, we are given the confidence that we couldn’t have started San Diego Distillery in a better city!

6. 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 phase we’re in? Also, how quickly do you see it moving towards that mainstream anchor point?
I feel that the American craft distilling industry is only at about a 3, with San Diego’s micro-economy at only about a 1 or 2. The reason for this is because the small distilleries across the country are still competing with the large distilleries that can produce large amounts of quality product sold at a very competitive price. And it seems as though this movement is even lesser-known here in San Diego because a lot of the alcoholic beverage marketplace is still “preoccupied” with craft beers at the moment. However, I feel that once it gains some momentum, the craft distilling industry will move toward a mainstream anchor point at a much faster pace than the craft beer industry has. In a way, craft brewers have paved the way for craft distillers, especially here in San Diego.

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7. Where or who do you feel is the driving, innovative force behind our craft distilling industry right now?
The two distilleries that come first to mind are Westland in Seattle, Washington, and Corsair in Tennessee. Personally, I admire Westland for their innovation and the broad range of single malt whiskeys that they make and the unique ways that they finish their whiskeys. Corsair is another distillery that is on the cutting edge with their unique lineup of spirits and incorporating unique ingredients and grains into their products. Corsair has also recently planted vineyards, presumably to be used for brandy distillation, which I believe shows great forethought and insight as to the direction the market is heading.

8. Name a few other distillers or distilleries who inspire you.
Some of my favorites include the aforementioned Westland and Corsair, Dry Fly, Balcones, and Wigle which is a regionally-distributed distillery out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

9. Where do you see San Diego Distillery in 10 years? What do you want to be known for?
In 10 years, I hope to make San Diego Distillery a locally- and regionally-recognized brand that represents excellence and quality. I hope to be able to expand my operation, including buying a larger still, opening an off-site tasting room, and possibly opening a rick house for barrel storage. I hope to be known for my whiskeys, not only for being flavorful and high-quality, but also for being inventive and unique. I also hope to be known for my brandy.

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10. Your favorite thing about going into the distillery each day?
After working a “day job” all day, the most exciting thing for me when walking into the distillery every day is the realization that what I accomplish that day is completely up to me. It is a great feeling to be working for yourself, even if it means working for no money! It is so rewarding to see my work and efforts come to fruition when I try a spirit as it is coming off of the still and it is exactly as good as I was expecting, if not better. It is a great feeling to know that I am in control of the direction that San Diego Distillery takes, and this is my motivation to keep working harder and harder to get it where I want it to be.

11. 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!
Unfortunately we do not have any distillery cats…but you can usually find our two little chihuahuas, Trema and Mara, cozying up on their blanket at the distillery. And we do have a little squirrel who seems to visit us a lot. We’ve named him Bung Hole!

12. Tell us a little about your operation, seeing as you’re in no rush to bring products to market at the moment. What’s your current philosophy and when do you think we could potentially see some product launches from San Diego Distillery?
My philosophy is and always has been “It’s ready when it’s ready.” I would love to always have a constant high volume stream of product hitting the market, but I know this is not realistic. I can’t try to rush the process and risk producing a different product than what was originally intended. I have learned that even if I have to wait on product to age, it’s better in the long run. But with that being said, I was able to pull some of my first barrels after they’ve matured, so keep an eye out for San Diego Distillery whiskey launching as soon as March 2016!

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Special thanks to Trent & Maria for these photos! Be sure to follow San Diego Distillery on Instagram.

Incase you missed it, my interviews with other San Diego Distillers:

 

“Healthy” Weeknight Cocktail #2: Beet Daiquiri

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

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{ All photos above by Krisnoff }

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

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

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

 

Distiller Interview: Jeanne Runkle

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For my next Distiller Interview I have the one and only Jeanne Runkle! Jeanne and I were first introduced by fellow San Diego distiller Ray Digilio after we both contacted him about distilling experience. Jeanne, like me, was keen to get into distilling but at a bit of a loss as to how exactly to jump into the industry. Our first coffee date turned into an hours-long chat and surprise, surprise, Jeanne and I became fast friends. Little did I know when we first met, Jeanne was years deep into a well-orchestrated plan to leave the corporate world behind and pursue distilling! Following that passion for liquor-making ultimately led her to take up a distilling position in North Carolina and she’s since enjoyed stints at several distilleries across the country. Writer, blogger, distiller, jet engine mechanic, whiskey aficionado, Jeanne’s accolades go on and on – it’s my honor to feature her here (and to return the favor in doing so)! 

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

I’ve always been a bit of a “jack of all trades” – my background ranges from being a jet engine mechanic in the Marines, to biotech, to the energy industry. And now liquor! My tastiest career choice to date, that’s for sure.

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

My brother-in-law is a financial advisor, and he watches trends in various industries. About 3 years ago, he asked me if I’d heard about craft liquor. After doing my own research, I launched LikeYourLiquor.com less than a year later, a site dedicated to craft distillers and their delicious spirits. The more I interviewed distillers, the more I wanted to trade in my corporate cube for a still!

3. Tell us about your current post.

Right now, I’m working at Quincy Street Distillery in Chicago as their assistant distiller/marketing manager, as well as shaking up a few cocktails in our tasting room bar. Illinois marks my fifth state that I’ve lived in, in 2015!

4. What are some of the pros to being a “nomad” distiller of sorts, a.k.a. working at several operations, not having to go through the process of opening up your own shop, etc.

I’ve learned things from each place I’ve been and I like to think I share that knowledge with the people I meet. I’ll also say that boredom at work is a thing of the past – who has time for that?! Every day is a new challenge. Plus, if I’d decide to open my own distillery, I’m learning all the do’s and don’ts from the best – things like, “floor drains are a must”, or, “tanks that are flat on the bottom are a b*tch to clean”.

5. Your favorite thing about going to work each day?

I love the variety each day brings. I’m not just making the hooch – I’m slinging it at our bar, I’m marketing it. Plus, the people make every day fantastic – both my coworkers, and our customers.

6. I love how you fearlessly gave the corporate world the middle finger and jumped into pursuing a passion. Do you ever have regrets leaving a safe 9-5? Is there anything about your transition you’d do differently looking back?

Out of everything that’s happened this year, not once have I looked fondly back at my old cube and wished I’d done it differently. It took me about a year and a half to jump off the corporate ladder, so I like to think I planned as well as I could. The road’s not always been smooth – but when is anything puppies and rainbows all the time? I wouldn’t change a thing.

7. What’s on your bar cart right now?

I always try to pick up local bottles in a new town – which means my bar “cart” is more like a covered wagon! Right now, I’ve got [Quincy Street] barrel reserve gin and straight single malt (yum!) along with Letherbee’s traditional gin, and Starlight Distillery‘s apple brandy.

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{ Jeanne, slinging hooch since day 1. :) }

All photos courtesy Jeanne Runkle.

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

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

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

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

Cucumber Kale Vodka Spritz. Makes 1 drink.

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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{ All Photos by Krisnoff }

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

Rick Bayless’ Ancho Chile Old Fashioned

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

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

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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{ All photos above by Megan Burgess }

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

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

Join Distillerista for a Holiday Happy Hour!

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

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Holiday Happy Hour Details:

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

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

What: Festive Distillerista Craft Cocktails & Shopping Discounts!

Distillerista Holiday Gift Guide 2015

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I love skimming through the gift guides featured in/on my favorite magazines and blogs during the holiday season. I almost always find the perfect thing for that someone – or myself! – amongst the glossy and carefully curated lists of ideas. Considering gift giving for most can be excruciatingly difficult – myself included – I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring this season and feature a few of my favorite things. While I usually prefer to give simple but thoughtful homemade gifts like infused vodkas, liqueurs or baked treats, I can’t imagine any of my loved ones being mad at one of these gems showing up in his or her stocking this year. Enjoy!

1. Carry On Champagne Cocktail Kit. The latest in a series of DIY craft cocktail kits for the frequent flier. By W & P Design. Also available: Moscow Mule, Old Fashioned and Gin & Tonic. $24 each.

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2. Jonathan Adler Bourbon Pop Candle. The gorgeous reusable bronze vase/tumbler is worth the price alone, not to mention the rich and moody scent! Also available: Vodka & Champagne. $42 each.

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3. The prettiest Apple, Plum and Cinnamon Cordial from the UK’s Belvoir Fruit Farms. Makes a stunning Hot Toddy when paired with red wine, whiskey or rum. You’re welcome. $15.

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4. The cutest Animal Shot Glass Set that made this year’s list of Oprah’s favorite things. $50 for a s/o 5.

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5. Have you been naughty or nice? Keep ’em guessing with this sweet Moscow Mule Simple Syrup Duo, $26.

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6. An Imbibe Magazine Subscription. For the booze nerd in your life. $20.

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7. The PERFECT Manhattan Cocktail Cherries. By Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. $16.

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8. St. George Spirits Gin Gift Set. Enjoy a tasting flight of St. George’s three signature gins. Throw in a 4-pack of Fever Tree Tonic and you’ve got the perfect hostess gift. $32.

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9. Festive & seasonal Mulberry Gin. So much better than just giving a bottle of wine plus, THAT LABEL THO! $27.

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10. Elegant Blush Stone Coasters with an on-trend brass stripe. $39 for a s/o 4.

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P.S. Be sure to check out my favorite fall bar accessories for more great gift-giving ideas! Happy Holidays!

Top background image via.

Three Big Batch Cocktails to Please ALL the Relatives

Distillerista Thanksgiving

{ All photos by Megan Burgess }

Umm, real question: How is Thanksgiving only two days away? If you’re anything like me you still haven’t been to the market, nor are you particularly sold on what to make! We’re having Thanksgiving with some family friends this year and I’m in charge of the stuffing and the cocktails (typical). Lucky for me, I’ve at least got the drinks on lock and you can too! Below are three of my favorite big batch cocktail recipes. Scroll down for simple to make, crowd-pleasing batched drinks for a group that will surely get the conversation flowing this holiday!

Gin-Punch-Distillerista-Pour{ Fresh, Herbaceous Gin Punch }

1. Grapefruit Lavender Gin Punch. Guys. This is the definition of crowd-pleasers. I’ve made this drink for so many parties and get-togethers now, I can’t keep track. It gets tons of compliments and we ALWAYS run out so I’ll casually suggest double batching. If you’re guests appreciate pretty drinks and/or you’re fortunate enough to spend the holiday in a mild climate, this is the Thanksgiving drink for your crew. P.S. Swap half the lavender for rosemary to create a more seasonally-appropriate version. Your craft cocktail snob cousin will surely approve.

2. Luke’s Bourbon Cocktail. This is one of those drinks that’s just a leeeetle bit dangerous. The cider and citrus juices create an oh-so-easy to drink cocktail but beware, the Bourbon comes back to bite! Make this if you want to get Grandma a little tipsy. Also, the fall spices make for a balanced, fall-appropriate treat. Even your “I-only-drink-IPAs” brother will love this one.

Tray of Cocktails{ Big Batch Bourbon Cocktails }

3. Red Sangria. We all know Pinot Noir is a textbook wine pairing for turkey. Spice it up a little with some fresh winter citrus, cranberry or raspberry liqueur and sparkling water. It’s a great way to stretch a buck and who doesn’t like sippin’ on a little Sangria?! Just make sure Mom and the aunties don’t drink it all.

Distillerista-Sangria-Recipe{ Red Sangria }

As a holiday bonus, here are a few more of my favorite Thanksgiving-appropriate cocktails from around the web!

The Harvest Sparkle | Fed + Fit

Pear Rosemary Cocktails | Colorful Eats

Spiced Pear Mule | The Kitchy Kitchen

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Into It… Fall Bar Accessories

 

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It’s well known I have a bit of bar cart obsession and with fall finally here, I’m feeling a revamp. Here are eight chic bar accessories updates I’m currently coveting.

Fall-Bar-Accessories-Distillerista-1{ 1. Gilded Plume Bottle Opener | $7, Anthro ON SALE! }

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{ 2. The coolest knotted branch bar tool set | $78, Anthro }

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{ Nifty acacia wood Orb Bar Tool Set | $1-10, Crate & Barrel ON SALE! }

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{ Kitchy but cute “May You Never…” Shot Glasses (S/o 4) | $29, Pigment }

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{ A copper-topped Bitters Bottle would be the perfect vessel for homemade syrups | $35, Pigment }

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{ Love my Mason Shaker but this Copper Cocktail Shaker is on point | $25, Crate & Barrel }

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{ Gorgeous vintage Jadeite Cocktail Tumblers (S/o 4) | $50, One Kings Lane }

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{ The prettiest Metallic Lace Cocktail Glasses (S/o 4) | $29, One Kings Lane }

Hope you enjoyed this round up! What are your favorite spots to look for new barware? Tell me in the comments below!

Basil 95 // Vocabulary Boutique

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

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

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

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Basil 95 Serves 6

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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