Sealed With An X

CUPCAKES-CASHMERE-YOU-YOURS-DRINK { gorgeous iridescent coupes accented our cocktail perfectly! photo cred }

One of the most exciting opportunities we’ve had this year was to create and serve a specialty cocktail at Cupcakes + Cashmere‘s Ten Year Anniversary Party! As a longtime Cupcakes + Cashmere reader, it was such a treat and honor to be involved in the milestone celebration. I started reading Emily’s blog when I was a freshman in college after immediately being drawn to her easy breezy entertaining ideas, approachable style, and love for great food & cocktails. When they reached out about providing a cocktail for the evening, I jumped at the chance!

As a long time reader, I knew the founder of Cupcakes + Cashmere, Emily Schuman, was both a gin and a martini fan, so we started there. The C+C team had featured our Sunday Gin in a previous post so we tapped our flagship gin for the job. From there, I wanted to stay as on brand for the blog as possible (soft pinks, floral elements, feminine style) so we did a bit of a riff on a martini-style cocktail while incorporating some additional elements (rose petal tea cordial for flavor and color), lemon oil (to balance the sweetness of the rose yet still remain a stirred and direct cocktail), Peychaud’s Bitters (for color and depth) and festive floral garnishes. See the full cocktail recipe below!

CUPCAKES { Y&Y Tasting Room Manager, April, who helped develop the recipe!photo cred }

CUPCAKES-CASHMERE-EMILY-COCKTAIL { C+C Blogger, Emily, and a friend enjoying their first drinks :) photo cred }

Sealed with an X

Stir with ice in a mixing glass & ​s​train into a coupe-style glass. Garnish: micro flowers floated on top

Lemon Oleo*
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 1/2 cup sugar
Peel lemons and combine peel and sugar in a container with a tight fitting lid. Let rest 4+ hours or overnight. Occasionally shake container. Drain off lemon oil and keep in a sealed container.
Rose Petal Cordial**
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 24g Rose Petal Tea
Bring water to a boil, add sugar. After sugar dissolves, add tea and turn off heat. Let sit for 15 minutes, occasionally stir and finely strain. Store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

A Day in the Life of a Distillery Owner

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A sample day in a life of a distillery owner! If you’re not already familiar, in addition to writing this blog, I own and operate California’s first urban destination distillery, You & Yours Distilling Co., in San Diego. 

I wrote down everything I did on a random Monday to give you a peek into what a typical day is like… since I know you’re just dying to know. 😉 Although I’m sure no one cares about the contents of this post apart from perhaps my mom, I always love reading posts like this from bloggers I love, so I thought I’d do one too!

7 am On Mondays I try to kick start the week off right so I have fewer excuses to make bad decisions later in the week… the first thing I do to set the tone for the week is work out with my trainer every Monday morning at 7:15 am. We meet at the gym in my building, which is pretty convenient, i.e. minimizing the potential for excuses not to fit it in. It’s not always fun waking up early right after the weekend but I always feel better for it and thanks to Kim, have a ton of fun getting in some exercise!

8:30 am Once I’m back at home, I dive into my morning routine, which you can read more about here but the gist is this: make & eat breakfast (usually a scramble of some sort) then have a coffee while I schedule out my day into segmented blocks of time for meetings, emails and calls. If I’m not working out in the morning, I do this right when I wake up. Then it’s straight into emails before I shower and get ready for the day.

10 am I head to the distillery for our weekly 10 am Production Meeting. My distillery manager and I go over project updates, any logistical issues or pending needs and today we happen to be doing a bit of R&D for Old Tom Gin! I taste 6 un-proofed versions of our new gin, each based on a recipe I put together. Based on my notes from these 6 recipes, I create two more, narrowing it down to my target of between 6-8 botanicals.

11 am After my production meeting, I meet our Tasting Room Manager and Events Manager for our weekly catch up. We go over the previous week’s numbers and events, and discuss the upcoming week’s events, as well as any upcoming partnerships, speaking engagements or other special off-site events You & Yours has committed to having a presence at.

12 pm After we’ve gone over upcoming events, I have my weekly call with our PR firm. I like to schedule it directly after the Events meeting, so any outreach or social media needs are fresh in my mind. Our PR team handles all media and influencer outreach, as well as all of our social media.

1 pm I typically try to squeeze in lunch while I’m on the PR call… If I’m on top of it, I’ll pack some leftovers, and if not, I’ll PostMates something healthy like Tender Greens to scarf after I get off the phone. My go-to is their salmon plate with butter lettuce salad and veggies.

2 pm Every other Monday, I have a call with our CPA, who provides CFO-like services. We go over the previous month’s financials, payroll, etc. and chat about any adjustments that need to be made. If I don’t have this call, I usually take a mental break and scroll through Instagram, read my favorite blogs or watch a couple of Youtube videos.

3 pm Quick walk to get some fresh air and meet my partner, Luke for coffee. It’s important that Luke and I stay on the page with everything we have going on… We both tend to run a mile a minute and as such, feel that stopping mid-momentum to update the other on random shit is counter-productive, so we commit to one meeting a week where we talk through all of our current projects and goals for the year. It’s basically a big picture meeting where we lay out and cross off action steps for the week ahead. Quite often our Sales Manager will join us too to recap the previous week’s distribution sales and progress.

4:30ish I like to go grocery shopping on Mondays instead of Sundays… Sundays are my favorite day of the week and since we’re so non-stop during the work week, I like to soak up every last minute of the weekend doing whatever it is we feel like, not fitting in errands. It’s also a nice treat to save for a Monday, seeing as I loooooove grocery shopping! When I get home I put the groceries away, which oddly I also love doing, then take a few minutes to catch up on emails since I basically spent the whole day in meetings or on calls.

6:30 pm Luke gets home around this time and we catch up on anything that materialized since we left the coffee shop, then pop down to the the Jacuzzi in our building for a bit to relax before we cook dinner and settle in for a movie or a couple episodes.

10 – 10:30 pm… I don’t have much of a nighttime routine, although I know I need/would probably benefit from one. Since the day was so jam-packed, I’m pretty exhausted by this time and fall asleep almost as soon as I hit the pillow.

Side note: I like to schedule my Mondays like this because I then start the week off feeling ULTRA productive, which in turn, sets the tone for the days ahead. Although it’s A LOT to fit in, I feel so much more confident rolling into the days following, knowing that I’ve laid the foundation for a productive and progress-making week.

…It also allows me to keep a practice I’m obsessed with – never scheduling ANYTHING on Wednesdays. Hump day is my day to catch up on whatever I want: running personal errands, work on blog posts, do random shit around the house, or anything else I WANT to do. It’s my day to relax and be creative and in turn,  almooooost feels like a mini-weekend in itself. It’s been a game changer for me.

What about you? How do you schedule your workdays and weeks? I’d love to know any tricks or best practices you swear by!

How We Make Our Flagship Spirits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Three Best Career Decisions of 2017

2017 was a big year. We finally opened the business and I proceeded to get a crash course in running a small business, ready or not! What ensued was sheer joy and a looooot of learning experiences. Speaking of, below are the three most impactful career-minded decisions I made last year…

1. Working with a Business Coach… I’d met with a business coach a couple of times during a particularly rough patch of the Y&Y build out, not having had a particularly wonderful experience. And although I knew they could be game changing for business owners, I never pursued one again after that early less-than-stellar experience. It wasn’t until I attended a small meet up of like-minded business owners and met Megan that I opened up to the idea again. I immediately felt a connection with Megan, an ease. I felt instantly, almost too-good-to-be-true, comfortable with her. I decided to do a free consult session to talk about what types of things I wanted to work on and was hooked right away. I’ve just finished my first six-month stint with her and cannot say enough good things.

My main reason for wanting to work with her was, on a high level, wanting to be the best possible boss/leader/manager/business owner I could be. I know in every fiber of my being that I know what’s best for the direction of You & Yours …but all the other stuff that comes along with running a customer-facing business, I’m still learning. Managing a team of eight employees, all of which are older than you, several of which have far more industry experience than you, is hyperrrrrrr intimidating and challenging. At the time Megan and I met, this is what I was struggling with the most, and now, six months later, I feel so much more confident and capable in managing and leading my team.

I also found it incredibly beneficial just to have someone to vent to. Now most of us probably vent about work to our spouse or roommate or significant other, but when all three of those people happen to be your business partner too, it doesn’t always work out so well! #Lollll. And on a related note, I don’t always want to go to my partner with every little thing that’s bothering me. He runs his own business too, on top of being involved with me on Y&Y, and taking his time away from those two things to bitch about some random annoyance just doesn’t always feel right. SO, spoiler alert, I found myself occasionally venting to or unloading on the wrong people… namely my employees, and that’s just never a good idea.

Working with Megan allowed to funnel all of those annoyances, all of those fears and struggles and random little chips on my shoulder into one neutral, safe space where not only was I being heard, but actively coached on how to deal with them AND recognize them next time so they don’t keep being a thing. This, my friends, is HUGE. Imagine zero workplace drama, silky smooth employee-manager-boss relationships, and a massive uptick in energy and motivation. That is what working with Megan has created for me and I guarantee you can also have all those things too! And if you need help getting there, I suggest you give her a call!

2. Hiring an Admin… There was a time last year when I was spending, no joke, 60-70% of my time fielding event and partnership inquires. What felt like ALL of my free time was spent on correspondence/logistical back and forth with clients, event planners and potential brands or organizations that wanted to partner up. While I’m incredibly grateful for every email and inquiry that comes our way, managing this side of the business was not and is not my strong suit. I was doing work that I was not really that qualified to do, nor was I particularly passionate about. Working with a business coach helped me realize that if I found the right person to take over this area of our business, I would be free to direct my time towards A. work that is more productive given my strengths, and B. work that actually lit me up instead of drained me.

The main thing that kept me from hiring an administrative role (besides our payroll budget) was the fact that it it felt too self-important. I felt guilty for wanting to pass off these (what felt to me like the. most. soul-crushing) tasks and not just putting in the work myself. Not to sound like a broken record here, but Megan (see decision #1) helped me nip that dumb thought train in the bud real quick. 

Not only did I end up hiring an ‘Events & Admin Manager’, but I hit the actual jackpot with who filled the position. She’s a rock solid, organized gem of an event planner who just so happens to live close to the distillery AND has a very fitting design and marketing background. Does is get any better?! And since adding her to our team, I feel like the freakin’ Queen of strategic delegating. I’m almost too good at it now, seriously. Not only am I free to work on what I want to work on, but the other stuff is getting executed to a WHOLE other level I would have never been able to provide myself. Game. Changer. 

3. Working with a Stylist… This might sound a bit over the top but hands down one of the best career-minded decisions I made last year was working with a stylist, specifically local wardrobe stylist Conni Jespersen.

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{ Conni, helping me pick out an outfit for an upcoming panel! }

A while ago, before I fell in love with distilling, there was a time where I thought a career in fashion might be fun! I’ve always loved to sew and modify patterns and even took a special career-focussed track in high school to study fashion design and merchandising. This is all to say that I looooove getting dressed. I LOVE putting looks together, styling things and perhaps most of all – dressing my friends. Ask anyone who knew me in high school – half my closet was perpetually “out on loan” amongst my besties. Putting the perfect outfit together for an outing or celebration makes me giddy. But once I started the business, time to leisurely put looks together and get dressed at my own pace were things of the past.

Along with this sharp degradation of my free time came a rapid uptick in mandated professional “appearances,” let’s call them. Important meetings where I needed to impress, speaking engagements, photoshoots, on-camera interviews, sales appointments, meeting with other industry professionals, attending industry functions, and so on and so forth. Where my closet used to only have two jobs: “probably working from my dining room table” and “date night,” my wardrobe as a whole now had seemingly endless functions it needed to satisfy.

After attending a few of these aforementioned work things feeling less than dressed-to-impress, I decided to bite the bullet and reach out to Conni. I’d met Connie through my old boss, Cecelia (owner and proprietress of my favorite SD shopping spot – Vocabulary Boutique!) and had been following her journey on Instagram for years. What ensued was such. a. cool. experience.

First we went through my ENTIRE closet and got rid of anything that didn’t fit, flatter, make me happy to wear, or appear to be in good condition. Through that process, we identified pieces or staples I lacked, pieces I wanted to replace with higher quality or updated versions, and pieces I may not naturally gravitate towards but could probably benefit from having.

Then Conni started doing what – in my opinion – Conni does best… STYLING STUFF I ALREADY HAD IN NEW, TOTALLY F-ING COOL WAYS I WOULD NEVER THINK OF BUT STILL FELT LIKE ME! Seriously, it was like I threw out half my stuff but suddenly had an entirely new wardrobe. WTF. MAGIC! Then she’d photograph those looks and put them in a BINDER for me to reference later! I’m blissfully unaware of the severe airplane turbulence I’m experiencing right now drafting this post just thinking about that blessed binder.

But perhaps my favorite perk of all you get with working with Conni was – speaking of airplanes – her help PACKING FOR TRIPS!. Y’all. I legit went to New Zealand for 9 days with nothing but a f’ing CARRY ON thanks to her. She also put together every single look I wore on the vacation I ended up getting engaged on and for that I will always be especially grateful, lol. Packing is now so soooo easy and best of all, I NEVER overpack. It’s such an underrated game changer for someone like me who looooooves to travel, often plans trips last minute, and wants to look put together no matter what, whether the trip be mostly work or mostly play.

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{ ^^ another perk: Conni helping Luke & I coordinate our engagement shoot looks! }

Phewww! Now that this post is officially a mile long, what about you!? What are the best career decisions you’ve made in the last year? I’d love to know!

Spirit Review: Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin

 

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Product: Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Flavored Gin

Category: Flavored Gin

Distillery: Four Pillars Distillery, Australia

ABV: 37.8% or 75.5 proof

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

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

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

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

Similar Products: Sloe Gin and other Gin liqueurs.

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

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One Year.

fullsizeoutput_3{ a fitting signamazing spread from our One Year Anniversary party! }

Where to begin!

I’m smiling as I write this, thinking about all the fun we had at our one year anniversary party last Thursday night! It was so humbling and inspiring to see all the familiar faces at the distillery, everyone there to celebrate this huge milestone with us! I feel so fortunate to have made it this far and to have accomplished so much in just twelve short months. It’s the best feeling.

Although it feels like both just ten days and ten years since we finally opened our doors last year, I wouldn’t trade the last twelve months for anything. The first year sure had it’s challenges – seemingly endless construction woes, a lawsuit, the inevitably high turnover rate of hospitality industry employees, learning how to build and manage a team, and a crash course in both supply chain management and production logistics.

For all the lessons learned though, we had a hell of a lot of wins too! Nailing down distribution within our first six months, solidifying over 100 (and growing!) accounts across the state, bucket list blog and media features, releasing a third spirit, dozens of cocktail menu placements, hiring our first full-time sales rep, and perhaps most exciting of all, purchasing a semi-automated bottling line! It’s the little things, lol. For more of my favorite moments from last year, read this post

Since I’m too excited to put any more coherent thoughts together (and in Kaua’i for our friends’ wedding!), I thought I’d answer a few questions about what we have in store for the year to come!

What else are you releasing this year? Coming up we have our Old Tom Gin releasing sometime in May (rich, malty, slightly sweet and spicy), Summer Gin in June (my version of a Hendrick’s-style gin: Meyer lemon, cucumber, lemongrass and mint!), and an Italian-style Amaro later on in the fall.

What’s next for the tasting room? We’re building out our outdoor patio so you can enjoy our flights and cocktails in a sunny, outdoor setting! Aaaannnnddd we’ll be squeezing in a small kitchen in the back (somehow, lol) so that we can finally offer some proper small plates to go with those delicious cocktails. Think Southern-inspired tapas and elevated bar food favorites featuring local San Diego ingredients.

Plans to expand? Why yes, I’m glad you asked! We’ve got our eyes on a 5000 sq. ft warehouse just a few blocks away from our existing location, where we’ll be able to store raw materials, finished product, and eventually, increase production with a new still! Stay tuned for a formal announcement in the coming weeks.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but please leave any other questions in the comments, on Facebook, or DM me on Instagram and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

The Bishop’s Wife at Madison on Park

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Madison on Park is the ultimate combination of sophistication and charm. Nestled on the quaint main drag of University Heights, this baby blue gem of a restaurant & bar offers a truly exceptional bar program complimented by an inspired food menu. Upon entering, you’re transported by the chic indoor/outdoor space, complete with high vaulted ceilings and colorful geometric shapes. This funky yet minimalistic spot is a must for date night or a quick cocktail with friends.

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Bar Manager Danny Kuehner runs the ship, turning out everything from perfected classics to one-of-a-kind creations. For those looking for a romantic sip, The Bishop’s Wife is a perfect pink cocktail that’s bound to hit even the non-gin drinker’s spot. It’s no surprise that the Wife is our favorite, as it perfectly compliments You & Yours Distilling Co.‘s Sunday Gin with cranberries, Genepy and lemon. Served in a crystal-inspired coupe and garnished with a pop of fresh cranberries, it’s both eye catching and delicious. 

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As for their cuisine, Madison’s food is as beautifully presented as it is flavorful — make sure to order the Tuna Tartare if you’re looking for a fresh starter, and the Pork Chop won’t disappoint as a main. The watermelon stack & roasted cauliflower gratin are amazing additions to the table as well! 

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All photos by Lindsey.

Two Ingredient Lacroix Cocktails

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Now that we’re all done with Whole30 and “reintroducing” booze back into our lives (jk, I did NOT do Whole30 HAH), here a few waayyy better-for-you cocktail ideas. But in all seriousness, whether it’s for health purposes or because I’m just plain lazy, I love me a good two ingredient cocktail! Just combine your favorite spirit and an accompanying flavor of fizzy sparkling water and you’re good.to.go. If you want to be an over-achiever (you all know who you are) you can add a squeeze of citrus, a dash of bitters and/or a simple garnish of some sort.

The formula is the same across the board… 2 oz of booze + 2-3 oz. of Lacroix to taste. Stir gently over good ice cubes in a collins or highball glass and enjoy!

1. Vodka & Cran-Raspberry Lacroix // optional add-ons: lime wheel + fresh cranberries

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2. Sloe Gin & Berry Lacroix // optional add-ons: plum bitters + wedge of lime

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3. Tequila & Grapefruit Lacroix // optional add-ons: grapefruit twist

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What are your favorite spirits to pair with Lacroix? I’d love to hear! Leave a comment or DM me on Insta (@LauraKayJ).

2018 Travel Plans & Bucket List

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For the first time in a few years, we’ve got quite a bit of travel lined up for 2018! The last few years have been all go-go-go, keeping our heads down, with opening You & Yours and all, but now that we’re rocking and rolling and have an epic team in place, we’re incredibly excited to hop back into our travels. Both for work and play. Here’s what we have coming up!

February – A Bachelorette trip to Cabo, then leaving for New Zealand a day later (pray for me). Luke is from NZ and we haven’t been able to make it back in a couple of years. We finally made the snap decision to pop down for a week to celebrate his father’s 65th birthday and hang out with friends and I couldn’t be more excited!

March – TWO Weddings… one in Kauai, HI and one in Jacksonville, FL.

April – A quick work trip to Cleveland (squeezing in a Cavs game!) then Miami for another bachelorette party!

May – Tel Aviv! This will be my very first Forbes 30 Under 30 global summit and I am so stoked! I’ve always wanted to check out Tel Aviv so I’m trying to swing this trip any way I can! Haven’t quite firmed up plans yet but will keep you posted. Also, my Mom’s request for her birthday this year is a trip to Santa Barbara later in the month. It’s one of Luke & I’s favorite places to visit to so we were more than happy to acquiesce.

June – Back to Cabo for another wedding!

July – December… No set-in-stone plans as of yet for the latter half of the year, but planning on heading to the UK at some point for a mixed business/pleasure jaunt. Also hoping to pop back down to the Bahamas for a little wedding planning reconnaissance!

Other trips we’re hoping to squeeze in…

  • Dying to get back to the South – Nashville, Charleston, etc., even if just for a long weekend.
  • Still need to check Montana off my list!
  • At least an SF trip or two. Two of my dearest friends now live there, which is a great excuse for a work trip too. And vice versa! Ha!

Where are you traveling to this year?! Have you been to any of the places we have planned? If so, PLEASE leave a comment or drop me an email – LKJ@Distillerista.com – Would love your recs!

Valentine’s Day 2018 Gift Guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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