Review of the Week! Vol. 2: El Jardin’s El Conquistador G&T

Welcome back to a new series here on Distillerista! Each week I’ll be sharing a shorter format post reviewing one thing I tried over the previous week. It may be a cocktail, a non-alcoholic drink, a product, a spirit, or a recipe. Just a little something I enjoyed and wanted to share so you can too!

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This week is the first of what is sure to be many in a category of these reviews: a You & Yours Distilling Co. cocktail menu placement featuring one of our spirits! This week it’s a gorgeous Spanish-style Gin & Tonic featuring our Winter Gin, AKA my version of a London Dry style of gin.

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The ‘El Conquistador‘ at El Jardin in Liberty Station is everything a Gin & Tonic should be: gorgeous to the eye, intoxicating to the nose and perfectly bright and balanced on the palate. Complimenting our Winter Gin is Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water, then it’s all garnished with aromatic orange zest, eye-catching star anise pods and lemon balm and fennel fronds from the Chef’s own garden. As delicious as it is beautiful! Be sure to get to El Jardin to try one quick, as Bev Director Eliza and her team are about to overhaul the cocktail menu for spring and a new Sunday Gin cocktail will be taking the Conquistador’s place!

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Cheers! And be sure to check out last week’s Review, a gorgeously creamy “Dirty” Ginger Turmeric Cappuccino.

Styles of Gin 101

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Ever wondered what the difference is between Gin & Genever? Or thought to yourself, “What the hell is Old Tom Gin?” Well, I’m here to help! Here are my ultimate Cliff Notes on the five most popular styles of gin you’ll find out in the wild. 

Genever – The original gin, or more accurately, the spirit modern-day gin was born from. Less dry and spicy, with a lighter botanical profile than London Dry. Also not as clean or sharp as London Dry. Usually distilled from grain, specifically malt, so it has a more robust, cereal-like foundation. Often combined with neutral grain spirit to balance and infused with herbs and spices, including juniper. Kind of like a gin, but not quite. You can find all kinds of Genevers, some unaged, some aged for months, up to several years. 

London Dry – This is your traditional, modern-day standard for gin. 98% of the time, when people think gin, they’re thinking of a London Dry style gin. London Drys are juniper forward, piney, usually slightly spicy, very dry, and often have anise or licorice notes. They’re clean and sharp on the pallet and can have quite overwhelming flavor profiles. This is what makes gin such a great cocktail ingredient, as their punctuated flavor profiles can hold up to other bold flavors.

Old Tom A hybrid between Genever and a London Dry and my favorite style! Will often be distilled from a grain base in lieu of neutral spirit, like Genever, to give it that maltiness, but given a robust botanical profile more like that of a London Dry. Very often either A. barrel aged and/or B. post-sweetened. 

American- / Western-style – Both of these terms are kind of a catch-all for any gin that’s not necessarily juniper-forward. The Beverage Alcohol Manual (a federally distributed document and every distiller’s bible) simply states that a gin is any spirit predominately flavored with juniper, so as you can tell, this give distillers enormous creative freedom when creating a gin. These terms can describe floral gins, citrus gins, spicy gins, infused gins, or any gin that uses a lighter hand when it comes to juniper berries.

Sloe Gin – A gin or gin liqueur that’s usually lower in ABV and characterized by the flavor of sloe berries. Most often the product of a post-distillation maceration of sloe berries and some sort of post-sweetening to tame the tartness of the sloe berry. Lovely warmed up a fire!

Review of the Week! Vol. 1

Welcome to a new series here on Distillerista! Each week I’ll be sharing a shorter format post reviewing one thing I tried over the previous week. It may be a cocktail, a non-alcoholic drink, a product, a spirit, or a recipe. Just a little something I enjoyed and want to share so you can too!

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This week I’m sharing a non-alcoholic bevvy! I’m trying to cut back my caffeine consumption to one coffee a day and since I typically always have a morning coffee at home, I’m always looking for interesting non-coffee based lattes or specialty tea drinks when I’m out and about at a coffee shop. This past weekend after perusing our local farmers’ market, it was a bit chilly out and we were feeling a nice warm coffee before heading home.

We ducked into Frost Me Gourmet, a relatively new little cafe and bistro in our neighborhood and I immediately lit up when I saw the ginger turmeric cappuccino! It’s essentially a warm infused almond milk beverage that can be served “dirty,” if you prefer, that is with a shot of espresso. I opted for dirty but with a decaf shot and it was delicious! Perfectly frothy and creamy (as almond milk sometimes has trouble with), with just the perfect amount of earthy and warming spice from the ginger and turmeric. Just the thing for a chilly winter morning!

Negative Calories: The Celery Cocktail You NEED in Your Life this January

We recently did a staff Q&A for our weekly feature series on the You & Yours Instagram and one of the questions asked what “What is your favorite cocktail from the Winter Menu?” Mine is hands down the Negative Calories. Technically a carry over from our fall menu (it’s that good!), the name ‘Negative Calories’ is a play on celery’s guilt-free nature and although the cocktail may not actually be calorically negative, it is just about as healthy as a cocktail can get. It’s fresh, herbaceous, a touch savory, and incredibly, incredibly invigorating! If you haven’t tried one yet, I suggest you make your way to the tasting room immediately. Not local to San Diego? Recipe below!

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Negative Calories. Makes 1 drink.
Ingredients: 
  • pinch sea salt
  • large torn basil leaf
  • 3 dashes orange bitters
  • .75 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1.5 oz celery syrup (2:1 – fresh celery juice : simple syrup)
  • 1.5 oz Winter Gin

Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake all ingredients until very cold. Double strain into a stemless wine glass and garnish with a fresh basil leaf.

 

2019 Goals & Projects

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When I posted the photo above to my IG detailing one of my favorite big-picture productivity hacks, I asked if you guys would like a blog post detailing a bit more about all the You & Yours-related 2019 goals and projects we have on our plates this year. I got a couple of yes’s so I decided to put finger tips to keyboard and give you a little glimpse into what our team will be working on in 2019. I’m curious, which project are you most excited for?!

1. Y&Y KITCHEN… No secret here, we’ve been working on building a kitchen into our 1495 G Street space for quite a while now. We got dealt a super disappointing hand in late 2017 when we heard the landlord had rented out the space adjacent to the tasting room without consulting us first. I.e. where we had planned to put the kitchen, barrel storage and additional private event space. So we had to go back to the drawing board. Thankfully, 2018 brought us the warehouse (see #2!) we’re expanding into early this year, so we’re now able to move some things out of our jam-packed production floor in order to make room for a small kitchen. We hope to offer our small menu (which we’re working on with one of our favorite chefs! stay tuned!) of Southern-inspired small plates by early spring!

2. WAREHOUSE… If you’ve taken a distillery tour any time in the last year, you know our production floor is getting TIGHT. I mean, very, very, very crowded. Every morning our production manager has to pallet jack everything out into our two staff parking spaces in order to work in the distillery. Not ideal. Thankfully construction is well underway at 367 15th Street (just a few blocks from our original location) and we should be occupying the new headquarters by late March. In addition to acting as ground zero for all things canned cocktail production, this new warehouse location will be used for storage, spirit production overflow and private tastings. But perhaps my favorite part of the build out? Actual work space! Had to build myself a corner office, obviously! 😉 

3. DISTRO – ADDITIONAL STATES… 2019 is ALL. ABOUT. THE DISTRIBUTION for our team at You & Yours. We get inquiries every day asking for our product in other states and we’re beyond ready to expand outside of California. We’re working several angles and potential partnerships at the moment and hope to launch at least three additional states by the end of the year. We’ll keep you posted!

4. CANS – EAST COAST… Speaking of, if all goes well, East Coasters can sip on our canned cocktails in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts this summer! If you happen to live in those states, start hassling your local liquor store owners and grocers now! 

5. BEER GARDEN… If you saw our canned cocktail announcement you may have caught that we’re gluttons for punishment and have decided to build an outdoor beer & wine garden on the lot behind the new warehouse. Yeah, not like we have anything going on at all… but we love East Village and feel really passionate about continuing to improve the neighborhood, and therefore feel a concept of this kind would do a lot of good for the area. More details to come but we hope to welcome guests by late summer this year!

6 & 7. [REDACTED] Unfortunately I can’t share much about these projects just yet, but one may involve a game-changing partnership and the other mighttttttttt be our second tasting room location! The suspense!

8. BLOG MORE!… I say this every year but I want to deliver more consistent content here on Distillerista. I truly do love to sit down and write about spirits, distillers, hospitality, our travels, our plans and projects, and, of course, all things Y&Y. It’s just that at the end of the day, taking time to write blog posts doesn’t feel the most productive use of my time, considering all we want to accomplish this year. BUT it’s something I really enjoy and it actually relaxes me, so I’m hoping to bring you more blog posts this year, if only for those reasons alone! What you would like to read about or learn here on Distillerista this year? Your wish is my command.

Last but not least, what are YOUR 2019 goals? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

A Very Distillerista Gift Guide!

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

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For the traveler…

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

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

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

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

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

 

For the spirits enthusiast or aspiring distiller… 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

You & Yours Canned Cocktails are Here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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{ our first canning run at the distillery! }

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

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

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{ release day! }

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

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

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{ celebratory promo photo shoot!* }

*First & final images by Arielle Levy :)

My Favorite Mixers for Craft Spirits

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When it comes to cocktail mixers, I’m a big believer in matching quality with quality. What I mean is, I wouldn’t dare disrespect a high-end, ultra premium gin with some shitty tonic water out of a gun… Instead, I’d search for an artisan or similarly premium tonic water that compliments and highlights whatever is already going on in the gin’s botanical recipe. for example, our Sunday Gin is very citrussy and bright, and lighter on the juniper. Instead of drowning it with a high sugar, quinine-heavy base level tonic water, we pair it with a gorgeous low sugar grapefruit tonic water to bring out that juiciness (see photo below!). The low quinine level and subtle sweetness lets the floral and feminine notes of the gin shine, all while putting an exclamation point on those lovely citrus top notes we’re going for.  Similarly, you wouldn’t want to take a nuanced, delicate spirit and overpower it with a sharp, sweet ginger beer or too sweet soda. The mixer should always compliment and amplify the spirit, and most importantly, be of comparable quality. Below are the thoughtfully-crafted mixers I reach for when serving my favorite craft spirits!

East Imperial… East Imperial is by far and away my favorite brand of top-quality mixers. They have a range of products from soda water to ginger beer and ginger ale (shown above), plus four different styles of tonic water. FOUR! If you haven’t seen East Imperial around before, it’s because they’re still fairly new to the US. They’re kind of like the Fever Tree of the southern hemisphere, seeing as the company hails from New Zealand, but the quality and flavor is so much better. To get your hands on some, you can order from their website here, or source through Young’s Market here in California.

0Z0A4362{ Our best-selling cocktail @ Y&Y, the Distiller’s G&T. Built Spanish style with all the botanicals that go into the gin basket when distilling our flagship Sunday Gin! }

Topo Chico… chances are you’ve heard of this cult favorite sparkling mineral water before. It comes from Monterrey, Mexico and I can tell you with 100% certainty, it’s worth the hype and then some! What makes it so good? Two things: bubbles and salt content. The effervescence is like no other sparkling beverage you’ll ever have. The carbonation is just so poppy and satisfying, and a high mineral content makes it both cleansing and thirst-quenching at the same time. It’s my favorite thing to pair with low ABV spirits for a spritz-like tipple.

Lacroix… I have to include Lacroix water here because a.the wealth of flavor options and b. expert subtlety of said flavors. They’re spritzy and refreshing and lend juuuusssst the right amount of added flavor. If you haven’t experimented with Lacroix cocktails, start with my three two-ingredient favorites here!

Lagunitas Hop Water… A bit of a wild card but oh so interesting! Like a zero-ABV IPA, Hop-flavored Sparking water adds dryness and bitterness without overwhelming a spirit. Try splashing some into a Greyhound or pairing with your favorite blanco tequila.

Mead… this one might surprise you but I love mead paired with spirits in cocktails. A vodka + mead + sparkling water spritz is such an underrated delight and seeing as there are so many styles and varieties of mead, the options are endless for coming up with creative new ideas! To test the waters, try a 1 oz. mead float on top of your next margarita!

Nostrum Shrubs… shrubs have been natural partners to spirits for ages, and this is one of my favorite brands. I love to take the kumquat + kaffir lime leaf + lemongrass shrub and pair it with our Y&Y Summer Citrus Vodka and Topo Chico! Divine!

 

A Week of Work + Play in Nashville, TN

A Week of Work + Play in Nashville, TN

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

Day 1 – THURSDAY

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

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

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

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Day 2 – FRIDAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 3 – SATURDAY 

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

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

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

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

Day 4 – SUNDAY

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

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

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

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

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Day 5 – MONDAY

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

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

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

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Day 2 – TUESDAY

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

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

Day 3 – WEDNESDAY

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

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

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

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My DREAM Food And Beverage Concepts

I was reading a tip earlier this week from a blogging resource about what to write about when you get in a rut or haven’t been super creative in a while… they emphasized the importance of writing about what gets you excited, what you’re naturally passionate about so that the process of writing is fun and painless. I started to think about all the things I’m truly, inherently passionate about and one of those is, well, eating out! I genuinely love nothing more than experiencing a new-to-me food & bevvie concept, whether it be in San Diego or beyond. Getting to the restaurant and taking in the decor, music, the look of the staff, what they’re all wearing, how they’re working together, pouring over the menu and it’s themes or quirks in language, getting a pre-drink in the lounge or bar, making careful note of how and when they move us to a table, how they present the menu options, how they tag team service, etc. etc… I could go on and on but this is all to say, I am truly fascinated by the inner workings of any given hospitality concept.

This got me thinking, first about all my favorite restaurant experiences  (another post perhaps?) and from there, all the restaurant experiences I long for but have yet to find. Below is a somewhat silly yet utterly genuine list of my ULTIMATE dream food and beverage concepts or ideas. If you decide to execute one of these, no finder’s fee necessary. Just invite me to the grand opening, will you?

  1. A Chipotle-style Build Your Own Nachos vibe with craft cocktails on tap… a.k.a. not too far off new East Village hot spot Lola 55 – in terms of decor and steps of service – but with NACHOS. And like our beloved Chipotle, instead of white rice or brown rice yata yata yata, you’d be able to choose from blue or yellow or white corn tortilla chips, etc. then pick your protein and choose from fun toppings, different styles of cheese, at least two types of queso, omg someone PLEASE make this happen.                                                                                                                                  Distillerista-Dream-Food-Beverage-Concepts-Nachos{ in all honesty, is there any greater pairing than nachos and cocktails? @Punch Bowl Social}               
  2. If Gusta Pizza and Vino Carta had a baby… the best pizza on the planet is at Gusta Pizza in Florence, Italy. Period. It’s located on the opposite side of the river from most of the touristy things, tucked away behind a sweet little piazza where locals come to hang and meet friends for Aperitivo. The menu is written on butcher paper on the wall and if you throw the pizzaiolo a cheeky smile, he may toss yours in the shape of heart. Pizzas take about 90 seconds to come out of the 8 zillion degree stone oven and trust me, they disappear almost as quickly. The only thing missing is a Marissa Ross-curated, Vino Carta-esque wine list chock full of obscure natural wines from Italian producers to sip between luscious bites.                                                                                      
  3. A fully grass-fed and -finished steakhouse with clean/real food sides… and table side Sunday Gin Martinis of course. All the classic cuts, plus a “sampler” style option where you can have a few ounces of fillet, a few ounces of a ribeye and/or a few ounces of your favorite cut, etc. (I hate having to choose between a ribeye and a fillet, lol #firstworldproblems) Then imagine all your favorite steakhouse sides – creamed spinach, mac & cheese, scalloped potatoes but with ultra ULTRA high quality, real food ingredients – Kerrygold butter, Clover Dairy, hyper local cheese and produce, etc. Basically my dream indulgent meal except I get to feel good about it after. On the drink menu? Food-friendly new world wines with a focus on underrated grape varietals.                                                                                                                                                                    
  4. Blow-your-mind Middle Eastern food with funky skin contacts wines, Pet-Nats, just barely effervescent Gamays and Molly Yeh as pastry chef… Ambiance is major Sex in the City 2 vibes. In terms of food, thinking Alon Shaya meets Byblos meets Kokkari Estiatorio. Does it get any SEXIER!?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Distillerista-Dream-Food-Beverage-Concepts-alonshaya{ an insanely satisfying lunch at Alon Shaya’s Saba in New Orleans – yes, that is blue crab & sweet corn hummus }
  5. Hi Ho / Shake Shack / In N Out, with choose your own “6-pack” buckets of beer and canned cocktails But every burger has two sizes so you can have like, sliders, of more than one style of burger.Because who wants to choose between the three best burgers in SoCal? Not me. Thinking we’re al fresco here. On a random highway route… like halfway between two major locales… a destination in itself along the journey. The type of place you “accidentally” sneak a canned cocktail roadie or two with you when you get back on the road.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  6. An all day beer and wine garden with a Texas twist… local craft beer (plus a few of those love to hate ’em classics), all natural wines by the glass and bottle, plus meat and cheese boards to write home about, rotating chef pop ups, all polished off with subtle southern ice house vibes but in an urban setting. Stay tuned, ’cause this gal might just be bringing this one to ya in the near-ish future 😉                                                                                                                                                                        
  7. Last but not least, a rotating cocktail menu by me (high quality craft spirits only), wine list by Whitney Adams or Marissa Ross, and a new menu each season by a different chef… in no particular order, you are all welcome to sign up for your 3 month stint: Sean Brock, Stefani de Palma, Brian Redzikowski, Anne Marie Coulon, Giada, Ina, David Chang, Francis Mallman… I could keep typing my heroes forever but you get the idea!                                                                                Distillerista-Dream-Food-Beverage-Concepts-annemarie { Anne Marie’s “breakfast bruschetta” at my fave Little Lion }

What about you? What dream food and beverage concepts do you wish would come to life?! Tell me in the comments or DM me!