Everything I Ate & Drank in Charleston, SC

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{ Could not get over the beauty this city has to offer! }

It sure took me a while but I finally made it to Charleston! I’ve had my eyes on the southern city for some time… I even wrote “visit Charleston” on the list of (fun) things I wanted to do in 2017! ¬†When I decided to enroll in a distilling workshop in Kentucky, I knew it was going be one of very few, if not the only, chances to hop over to South Carolina this year. My course finished on a Wednesday evening, so we stayed in Louisville one extra night, then rented a car and drove to one of my favorite cities, Nashville. The only way to fly to Charleston from Louisville was with a layover in Chicago, so we decided to spend a quick 12 hours in Nashville, – a.k.a. just enough time for dinner at Rolf & Daughters, drinks at the brand new Attaboy outpost and a few too many at Robert’s Western World! ūüėČ – then fly from Nashville to Charleston the following morning.

The main agenda points for the weekend were obviously food and drink. Charleston is without a doubt the current darling of the American culinary scene, and I wanted to fit in as many bites and sips as possible. Below is a full itinerary of what we ate and drank over the course of our weekend in Charleston!

Friday 2 pm. I originally had my eye on Xiao Bao Biscuit for a late lunch on arrival but failed to note they close for a couple of hours in the afternoon before dinner service. My plan B was 167 Raw, which was hilariously and vehemently recommended by our captain over the plane’s intercom during our descent into the Charleston airport. I’d had it on my list already but the captain’s¬†blessing made the decision an easy one. Maybe I was just hungry, but 167 Raw was, hands down, one of the best seafood meals I’ve ever had! We started with a dozen oysters (and their house white), which we let the fishmonger choose for us, then moved on to a special that day – chilled corn soup with crab. I’m a sucker for anything with fresh sweet corn during the summer months so I had to. Post-apps we moved on to a shrimp po’boy which was to. die. for. The trio of sauces gracing the perfectly battered and flash-fried shrimp – a sriracha aioli, red beet reduction, and green goddess drizzle – sent the dish over the top. We then finished off with the fish taco of the day, grilled halibut, and a glass of the wine special that day, a natural orange wine that was super tannic and interesting. We felt silly ordering fish tacos, coming from San Diego after all. We sat there thinking, What could Southerners possibly do to top our home city’s signature dish?, but the sneaky trick of smearing avocado BETWEEN TWO TORTILLAS (double decker-style for my fellow T-bell fans) was a brilliant trick I will not soon forget.

Friday, 7:30 pm.¬†Pre-dinner drinks at¬†our hotel’s rooftop bar, The Watch.

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{ Creme de Violette libation at The Watch }

Friday, 8:30 pm. I’d made reservations weeks earlier for Sean Brock’s tasting menu only McCrady’s. Hidden behind his more casual spot, McCrady’s Tavern, sits a private kitchen and dining room that is both staffed and decorated impeccably. All 12+ courses (or “interactions,” as they’re called) were stunning but¬†the standouts were the cobia with corn and marigold and the sorbet with summer flowers. I have to mention that what actually made the meal for us were the wine pairings! We usually skip wine pairings at fancy tasting menu spots, seeing as you’re likely already paying a good chunk of change for dinner, but we decided that I’d do the pairings and Luke would do a glass of white, then a red as the meal progressed. I’m so happy we did it this way because the pairing pours were so generous that we easily shared the glass with each dish, and were so, so impressed. Funny enough, the Sommelier there, Myers, turned out to be one of Luke’s old coworkers from his Market days!

Friday, 11 pm. Aforementioned Myers sent us to see his friends at The Dewberry hotel’s lobby bar. The bartender served up an incredible night cap with an amaro and all kinds of other delicious things I’ve now sadly forgotten. Turns out, the night cap wasn’t that night’s final “cap”. We got so excited talking distilling and cocktail culture and Charleston vs. San Diego with the Dewberry crew that by the time we left, we’d partaken in no less than two manhattans, a boulevardier and perhaps one too many Army & Navy’s, snaquiri style. ūüėČ

Charleston-Distillerista-1{ our cozy and spacious room at The Restoration }

Saturday, 8:30 am. Our hotel, The Restoration, drops off a picnic basket full of breakfast goodies of your choosing each morning, as a part of the room rate. We went all out the first morning to see what we liked Рcroissant, English muffin, housemade butter, country ham, granola and yogurt parfaits, Charleston tea and delicious coffee. We made a note to order an extra helping of the yummy country ham the next day!

Charleston-Distillerista-3{ the immaculately preserved Aiken Family Library at the Aiken Rhett House }

Saturday, 1 pm.¬†After a bike ride around South of Broad and tour of the Aiken Rhett house, we snagged a Lyft over to The Obstinate Daughter. Although we were hoping for more seafood options, we loved our lunch at the highly recommended Sullivan’s Island staple. We started off with a gorgeous crab salad on pumpernickel¬†toast and the gem salad, then split an incredible orecchiette¬†with fresh summer corn (told ya I can’t help myself), nduja, peppers, chile, parsley, and parmesan. The pasta was one of my favorite dishes of the whole weekend!

Charleston-Distillerista-13 { a (not so pretty) screenshot of a boomerang of our rooftop cheers at Revelry lol }

{ a (not so pretty) screenshot of a boomerang of our rooftop cheers at Revelry lol }

Saturday 3 pm. After a stroll along the beach and a peek at the lighthouse on Sullivan’s Island, we headed back towards the city to check out Revelry Brewing Co. Enjoying a cold beer on their rooftop deck, overlooking the city and watching a famous southern rain storm roll in was definitely a high point of the weekend!

{ Hiding out from the rain at the Nathaniel Russell House }

Saturday, 8 pm.¬†After hiding out from the rain with a few indoor activities, we headed up to North King for our southern fried chicken fix at Leon’s Oyster & Fine Poultry. Although not thoroughly sold on the fried chicken, we loved the atmosphere and cocktails!

Saturday, 9 pm.¬†Even though we had an early morning the next day, we decided to¬†fit in one more spot and grab an after dinner drink at the bar at The Ordinary. Upon hearing we hailed from San Diego, the bartender ordered us the ceviche on the spot! Not entirely satisfied with our dinner choice, the gesture was so sweet and appreciated! As if that wasn’t enough, we ordered a fried oyster slider to round out the night. For drinks, I ordered one of their daiquiris with a port cask finished rum (riffs on the classic cocktail being their claim to fame) and Luke had a classic Daquiri. Casual bartender of the year then surprised me with an Old Tom Gin Last Word after overhearing my love for Old Tom Gin! Night. Made.

Saturday, 10 pm. Couldn’t pass up a Jeni’s scoop on the way home, #sorrynotsorry.

Sunday, 7 am. We sleepily scarfed down more country ham and English muffin before heading out on an early morning walking tour.

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{ enchanting Duelers’ Alley, discovered on our walking tour }

Sunday, 1 pm. Brunch at Hominy Grill. What we thought was a local favorite turned out to be more of a tourist trap. Not super impressed. Wish we would have hit our second choice, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit.

Sunday, 2 pm. Cocktails at The Darling Oyster Bar. Saddling up to their drop dead gorgeous bar with a Lillet Royale РLillet Blanc, Brut Rosé and orange bitters Рwas the perfect way to cap off the trip!

Safe to say, I can’t wait to head back to Charleston! I’ve already booked a trip in the spring for the Charleston Food & Wine Festival. Tell me, have you been to Charleston? What other spots did I miss? I’ll be sure to put them on my list for next time!

72 Hours in Cabo San Lucas

About three months into opening You & Yours, after almost three years (!!!) of planning, to say I was ready for a little break was an understatement. As soon as I felt the tasting room was in a good place operations-wise, I started scheming where we could take off for a few nights. Although¬†we’d visited Cabo several times prior to this trip, the combination of having about a zillion Southwest Airlines points (perks of all those start-up costs!) and a newly offered non-stop flight from San Diego sealed the deal.

We took off on a Sunday, returning on a Wednesday, so as not to miss too much of service. After landing and nabbing a shuttle from the airport, we arrived at our hotel. A friend of ours graciously offered his corporate rate code for The Cape, A Thompson Hotel, otherwise, it would deeeeeeefinitely have not been in the budget. Super grateful for the hookup¬†though because I’m a sucker for fancy accommodations and The Cape is top-notch. As a lover of hospitality, every aspect of our stay was a dream. The room, decor, views, pool, completely private beach (hard to come by in southern Cabo, and on a prime surf break no less) and most of all, the wealth of dining and drinking options – including a restaurant helmed by one of my favorite chefs, Enrique Olvera – all had us swooning.

72-Hours-Cabo-day-1        { getting acclimated }

Sunday 

Starving by the time we arrived, we dropped our bags and went straight for lunch & cocktails at the pool bar. Delicious steak tostadas and ceviche were consumed v v quickly, then washed down with refreshing Mezcal libations.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset  { the first of many Mezcal cocktails }

Coming back to life after some food, we ran to the room to throw on our swim suits and headed back down to the pool. It felt so nice to just relax, sip¬†drinks and soak up the sun. I tried to start a book but was too antsy. I¬†was so happy to just be away that I couldn’t concentrate.

Several more hours were spent sipping cocktails in and beside the pool after we made friends with a lovely, newly married couple from Mexico City. We chatted for a while, sharing our love for their incredible city and lost track of time. Once we felt sunset nearing we raced up to shower and change so we could sip yet more cocktails upstairs at the rooftop bar.

72-Hours-Cabo-rooftop-nightcap { view from the rooftop }

Once the sun had dipped below the horizon we headed out for a casual dinner at La Hacienda. La Hacienda is located at a resort nearby and their upscale Mexican food and al fresco patio area never disappoint. Barely able to keep our eyes open by the end of the meal, we headed back to The Cape for an early night.

Monday

We thought (incorrectly) that breakfast was included so we loaded up at the surprisingly impressive buffet. Turns out we were wrong but thankfully we enjoyed it so much that it was ultimately worth the $55 per person. Green juices, fresh coconuts, tons of seasonal fruit, a full cheese and charcuterie station, platters of cured and smoked fish, a tower of Mexican pastries plus tons of typical hot American breakfast items made for a filling first meal of the day. We rolled out of the hotel and into a Taxi to hit town.

72-Hours-Cabo-breakfast-1{ coffees with a view }

Desperate to walk off our breakfast, we cruised around on foot for a while once being dropped off by the marina. We wanted to gauge our own interest in a potential half day fishing trip and spoke to a few guides along our walk but ultimately decided against it and headed back to the hotel pool, but not before stopping at our favorite dockside bar for a Pacifico and some people/seal watching.

72-Hours-Cabo-Pacfico-DocksideAfter more ceviche and cocktails poolside we went up to the room for a leisurely nap in anticipation of fun dinner plans.

Having been to El Farallon¬†on a previous trip without Luke, I knew I had to go back and take him with. Once you’ve arrived at the Resort at Pedregal where the restaurant is located, you’re escorted through the property down to a gorgeous, dramatic cliffside. After getting checked in, you’re invited to enjoy the champagne bar while listening to the waves pound the rocks below. There’s no menu, you just order from a case of fresh fish, all caught that day. Once you pick out your fish (or lobster, prawns, etc.) and give your order to the kitchen on the way to your table, you’re served three courses with your choice of two sides alongside your main. The snapper was incredible and every course was beautifully presented.¬†If you’re in the market for an upscale dining experience while in Cabo, I can’t recommend this place enough.

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{ Pit stop for a photo opp at the Resort at Pedregal }

Still high on our exceptional meal, we headed back into town for drinks at my beloved Jungle Bar. Having spent a leeeetle bit of time in Cabo back in high school, this divey outdoor bar with rainbow-hued shots holds a soft spot in my heart. After perhaps the most contrasting post-dinner drinks, we hit up trendy Bar Esquina at the Bahia Hotel for some live music. The Bahia Hotel, by the way, is a great – albeit beach access-less – boutique hotel option in downtown Cabo. We stayed there a few years ago for Luke’s birthday and loved it.

Tuesday

We slept in a bit and headed to the spa for a free yoga class The Cape offers to guests on Tuesday mornings at 9 am. The class was exactly the type of yoga you want on vacation after a night of drinking – super relaxed with lots of slow moving stretches and ample chav-asana time.

72-Hours-Cabo-Breakfast-2{ the sweetest breakfast set up }

After hitting the buffet again post-yoga (it was that good), we headed back to town in search of a boat cruise. After some deliberation, we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best, choosing one of the 4-hour snorkeling/booze cruises. While the snorkeling was fun, I would not recommend the cruise itself, hence why I’m not providing specific company details. The provided lunch was barely edible and “unlimited” beer was limited to cans of Coors Light.

Once back¬†on dry land we debated sticking around town for more drinks and people watching but couldn’t convince ourselves to miss out on our last afternoon by the pool. The hotel was seriously so nice, it was only place we wanted to be.

72-Hours-Cabo-room-drinks{ pre-dinner drinks on our balcony: tequila + cucumber + Topo Chico }

72-Hours-Cabo-balcony{ epic daybed situation on our balcony }

For our final dinner, we stayed on property to check out the aforementioned Manta. Being a huge fan of Chef Enrique Olvera’s other restaurants Pujol in Mexico City and Cosme in New York, my expectations were high. Unfortunately, they weren’t met but we still managed to enjoy the meal. We ended up being seated next to a sweet couple from Luke’s native New Zealand and¬†continued the evening with them up at the rooftop bar for a nightcap.

Wednesday

With the end of our trip nearing, we woke early to try to squeeze in as much pool time as possible. It sadly took us until our final morning to discover the gem of a coffee shop on the lobby bar level. We ordered two iced coffees and took them down to the beach with us for one last stroll.

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset{ post-caffeine beach read sesh}

Being up so early, we scored the best seats in the house Рcushioned loungers on a small patio between the pool deck upstairs and beach below. I finished How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell (ended up getting hooked later in the trip) and shared a spicy chicken wrap with Luke before heading up to shower and pack (depressed all over again just thinking about it).

Sad to go home so soon but happy to have been able to sneak away, we headed back to the airport. So as not to prolong the vacay-withdrawals we shocked ourselves back to reality pretty quick with a 50-person Yelp Elite event at the distillery just hours after returning home. Back at it!

Side Salad

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyoursWhen creating the debut menu for our cocktail program at You & Yours, I knew I wanted at least one savory-leaning drink on the menu. Savory cocktails¬†are popping up more and more on cocktsil menus these days and they just so happen to be one of my favorite styles of drinks. In fact, if ordering a bartender’s choice I almost always opt for “gin, savory, rocks.” I’d enjoyed cocktails in the past incorporating bell pepper, carrot and beet juices or purees and so I set out to create a couple of drinks with those vegetal flavors in mind. First up, the Side Salad.

What started out as an idea for a kale & pear gimlet riff (back when we thought our open date was going to fall mid-winter), morphed into a fresh, herbaceous bell pepper and basil concoction with a killer contrast of textures. After playing around with a few methods of flavor extraction, we settled on juicing the green bell pepper and basil together. From there we incorporated just the tiniest hint of honey simple syrup to compliment the grassiness and a pinch of sea salt to balance and tip the end result even more towards the savory end of the spectrum. To top it all off, we went with an herb-infused olive oil garnish, which ultimately gave way to the name. Y&Y Vodka was a no-brainer for this cocktail, as I wanted the freshness of the drink to be unhindered by anything too citrusy or floral (a.k.a. our Sunday Gin).

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyoursSide Salad –¬†Coupe or Martini Glass

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz¬†Y&Y Vodka
  • 1 oz green bell pepper basil honey mix* (recipe to follow)
  • .5 oz fresh lime juice
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 5 drops, Tuscan¬†herb-infused olive oil

Directions:  Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake for 15 seconds. Double strain into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with 5 or 6 drops of olive oil in a straight line along the diameter of the glass. Enjoy!

*green bell pepper basil honey mix: juice one green bell pepper with one large handful fresh basil. Add 1/4 oz honey simple syrup (1:1). Keep refrigerated. 

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyours

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyours

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyours

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyours View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyours

Cocktail Crawl: Marina District & Embarcadero

My bachelorette pad (that I kindly share with my bf) technically falls within the Little Italy¬†neighborhood of San Diego but straddles the line that crosses over into the Waterfront/Embarcadero/Marina district of downtown San Diego. When I first moved into my place almost six years ago the in-between location was quiet, had an interesting mix of demographics and was definitely devoid of any hip places to eat or drink. Fast forward just five short years and it’s a bustling mecca of great food and drinks,¬†with a strong, like-minded young professional and millennial presence.¬†Next time you’ve got friends in town or are just looking for something to do on a gorgeous afternoon, follow along on my Marina District Cocktail Crawl!

#1. CARNITAS SNACK SHACK AT THE EMBARCADERO

Cocktail-Crawl-Marina-District-Distillerista-1{ a fine place for pork (and great cocktails!) }

Start things off with drinks and a view at¬†Carnitas Snack Shack along the Embarcadero. In addition to a slew of cocktails featuring local¬†spirits, they make a mean Old Tom Gimlet, one of my favorite classic cocktails. And since I apparently like to kick these things off with fries, you must order CSS’s spicy seasoned ones. Factor in the smoky bacon ketchup and they’re can’t-miss.

#2. PUESTO AT THE HEADQUARTERS

Cocktail-Crawl-Marina-District-Puesto{ Cozy up to the indoor/outdoor bar or lounge outside by one of the fire pits at Puesto }

Continue along the waterfront to Puesto at The Headquarters. Their fresh strawberry margarita is my idea of a perfect marg – not too sweet, not too tart – and their off-menu Cali taco is the stuff of dreams.¬†If you’re not in the mood for a margarita, try one of their Mezcal cocktails or a beer from neighboring Tijuana’s burgeoning craft brewery scene.

#3. THE LION’S SHARE

lionsshare-Cocktail-Crawl-Distillerista{ The Lion’s Share’s bar, complete with on-trend¬†taxidermy & faux vintage art }

From there you can crawl, literally, across Harbor Drive and less than half a block down Kettner Blvd to The Lion’s Share. Choose one of their exceptional cocktails off the extensive menu or ask for bartender’s choice. I like to request “gin, rocks, savory,” and more often than not I end up with a delicious basil and bell pepper gimlet sort of thing that is out of this world.

#4. ROY’S HAWAIIAN FUSION AT THE WATERFRONT MARRIOT

Roys-Distillerista

Head back to the waterfront, through Seaport Village and towards the boats. Although not exactly the first place I think of when I¬†want¬†a craft cocktail, Hawaiian fusion chain restaurant¬†Roy’s¬†waterfront location at the Marriot has a trifecta that’s hard to pass up: enjoying the sunset on their al fresco patio with a Mai Tai, asushi roll and some people watching thrown in for good measure.

#5. THE WHISKEY HOUSE

Cocktail-Crawl-Distillerista-Marina-Whiskey-House{ just a small sliver of The Whiskey House’s whiskey selection }

Take a stroll along the marina and watch the boats come in before crossing over the convention center steps to the Whiskey House for a night cap.¬†In addition to over 1700 (yes, that’s seventeen hundred!) whiskeys to choose from, they have an impressive cocktail menu, twenty taps pouring local beers and a thoughtful¬†wine list. Best of all, whiskey enthusiasts with a sweet tooth can nibble on some¬†Laphroaig ice cream or a Bourbon brownie sundae to finish off the night!

 

What are your favorite spots in the Marina District? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!

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You & Yours Distilling Co. is OPEN! 3 month update.

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyoursA memory popped up on my FB newsfeed over the long weekend from three years ago, a photo of my mom and I on my college graduation day. THREE YEARS?! It feels like forever but in reality, is such a short span of time. I cannot believe in that time, I wrote a business plan, spent 10+ months studying distilling, pitched (what felt like) a zillion people, raised capital, built a distillery and launched a tasting room and two flagship products. It’s like my brain’s been on autopilot and now my dreams are coming true left and right. I don’t know what to say other than THANK YOU and p.s. – there is absolutely no substitute for hard work and doing the right thing.

GRADNow that we’ve got the post-grad nostalgia out of the way, why don’t I TELL YOU ABOUT IT! You & Yours is California’s first urban destination distillery and by that I mean we are the first open-to-the-public distillery in an urban neighborhood in the whole state! Pretty cool and btw, not f’in easy to do.

The 2200 square foot space features our production floor (tours coming soon!) and a gorgeous tasting room, separated by a stunning 15-seat bar. The tasting room is open Thursdays through Sundays and as mentioned, distillery tours will be available for sign up on our website v v soon. Until then, drop by for a tasting flight or cocktail! And don’t forget to grab a bottle on your way out.

So how’s it going? SO. GOOD. Absolutely no complaints! Every weekend is better than the one before and I’m constantly seeing both new and repeat faces come through the doors. We’re booking events like nobody’s business and the feedback on both spirits is so humbling. ¬†Our cocktail menu has been the draw thus far but I’m excited to get more of the distillery crowd in once we launch our tours. Now that the tasting room is hitting a stride, I’m also pumped to hit the ground running with distribution and see our spirits out in the wild!

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyours { Y&Y Vodka + Sunday Gin }

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyours { tasting room details }

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyours { mid-construction; right after we finished building the still! }

I’m dropping the “I” a lot in this post and it is downright criminal. I (dammit, did it again) would not be here, running a distillery, without an insanely talented, dedicated group of people. Phase 1 of the not-so-short list is below…

Luke – my business partner, life partner, and head bus boy. I’m not one to get sappy on the interwebs, but suffice it to say You & Yours would not be what it is, if anything at all, without your never-take-no-for-an-answer mindset and constant encouragement. Dez bug and I love you.

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyours

Investor team – Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank youuuuuuuuuuuuuu for taking a chance on me and this idea. I won’t let you down.

Trevor – Our fearless tasting room ring leader… you stepped up in a BIG way right when Y&Y needed you and I am so so so incredibly grateful that you did. Working alongside you every week is perhaps one of my favorite things about this wild ride. Thank you.

Johnny mf’ing Levan – UGH, YOU ARE SO TALENTED. Thank you for making all the little things so damn beautiful. It’s only the beginning.

Bill & Steve РYour generosity knows no bounds. Thank you for everything!

MOM DAD ‚Äď I won‚Äôt say thanks for not telling me not to do this because you definitely told me not to do this, HAH, but thanks are in order nonetheless because I did it anyway and LOOK!!! For real though, I appreciate your support, encouragement, and cheerleading more than you will ever know.

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyours

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyours

P.S. Stay tuned for more thank you’s and shout outs here soon. It quite literally took a village so I’ll be writing a series of posts diving deeper into how different aspects of Y&Y came to be, specifically the tasting room interiors, brand identity + packaging, production equipment, and our cocktail program.¬†

P.P.S. In addition to more Y&Y-centered content, get ready for the return of our regularly scheduled programming! I.e. cocktail recipes, spirit reviews, niche¬†spirit 101, and budget-friendly roundups. I’ll also be introducing a¬†guest blogger or two, as well as some new complimentary content in the coming months.

Anything, in particular, you’d like to see here on Distillerista? Comment below or hit me up on Facebook, Twitter or the ‘gram and I’ll get right on it! You can expect new posts every Friday.

How to Throw a DIY Gin & Tonic Party

DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-18

Guys, I’m so excited about today’s post. Aside from being my 100th (!!!) post since starting Distillerista, this is an idea I’ve wanted to feature on the blog for. EVER. While it might not be particularly monumental, it happens to be my idea of a picture-perfect (i.e. low-key) entertaining situation and let me tell you why… because A. I love any excuse to just set out a bunch of stuff and let my friends take care of themselves and B. I LOVE a good G&T. A gin & tonic is crisp, refreshing, classy af and virtually fool-proof to put together, making it the ideal cocktail for a DIY bar setup.

A little background on my love for the G&T: “gin and tonic, extra lime” quickly became my go-to order when I first fell in love with gin a few years ago. I’m so fond of the juniper-laden goodness that I’ve graduated to ordering a more streamlined (& low-sugar) version: gin & soda with a splash of tonic to let the gin shine through a bit more. But #adulting aside, any way you make a G&T, they’re always sure to please. There’s just something about those¬†crisp little bubbles and fragrant botanicals together as one, #amirite?

Whether you’re throwing a #GalentinesDay party for your pals, planning an upcoming bridal shower or bachelorette party, or just want an excuse to round up the #squad, a DIY G&T bar is pure, easy fun.

IMG_2545

Here’s how to set up a DIY Gin & Tonic Bar…

Glassware – Keep in mind your glasses don’t all need to match. Just¬†make sure they’re clean and free of cracks or chips. Double old fashioned glasses, mason jars, hi-balls, rocks, juice and water glasses are all fair game.

DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-2

Ice – “Invest” in a pretty ice bucket. Retailers like Target often have cute and affordable options. A small scoop, pair of tongs or large serving spoon is appreciated for¬†hands-free scooping.

Paper straws РLove these hearts, this floral print or the classic striped.

Garnishes Include classics like lemon and lime wheels, as well as lots of fresh mint. Encourage guests to give the mint a little smack in the palm of his or her hand and place in the glass first. Then garnish with a bit more on top of the drink. Other garnish ideas to include: citrus peels (fresh or candied!), edible flowers and cracked juniper berries.

Lime-DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-5

Cocktail napkins – These are too cute, these are v. on theme or perhaps something more simple.

Jiggers – Set out a jigger or 1.5 oz shot glass measure on the bar¬†so¬†that the gin doesn’t flow too quickly ;).

Gin-DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-4

Selection of gin – The idea is to have a good mix (3-4x) of different styles of gin, however it’s not exactly cost effective to go out and buy a bunch of niche spirits just for a casual get together. I totally get it. If you’re willing and able, consider offering your guests 1. a classic London Dry gin, 2. a more modern Western or American style gin, 3. a Sloe gin and 4. an Old Tom gin.¬†Alternatively, ask a few close friends to cohost/contribute a bottle of a certain style and you’re sure to have a diverse spread! Scroll down for deets on the gins included in this photo set and a list of my favorites in each category mentioned above at the end of this post.

Selection of tonic – Mix it up! Include a classic brand like Schweppes or Canada Dry, a “light” or sugar-free version, as well as a pricier premium tonic. Then if the budget allows, add in one or two flavored tonics for some added fun like aromatic, bitter lemon, or grapefruit. Include some soda or sparkling water too just incase anyone is seriously quinine-averse. Flavored Lacroix’s are also a great addition. My favorite brands are East Imperial, Fever Tree, Llanllyr Source and Q.

{ Tonics seen in photoset: East Imperial Grapefruit Tonic, East Imperial Yuzu Tonic, Q Tonic, Llanllyr Source Bitter Lemon (lemon flavored tonic water) and Llanllyr Tonic Water. My favorite brands are East Imperial, Fever Tree, Llanllyr Source and Q. }

DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-9

DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-10 DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-1 DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-11 DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-12 DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-13 { East Imperial Grapefruit Tonic }

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{ Gins seen in photoset: Hendrick’s, St. George Dry Rye, Krobar Botanical Brandy, Woody Creek Gin, Plymouth Sloe Gin }

Other favorites… Tanqueray No. 10, St. George Botanivore, Aviation; Ransom Old Tom, Spirit Works’ Barreled Gin, Sloe Gin & Barreled Sloe Gin, Death’s Door, Distillery No. 209.

Photos by Caroline Potter.

Winter Gin Punch

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When creating a cocktail for our very first ever You & Yours event last month, a seasonal take on my popular simple gin punch was in order. I wanted to make something simple enough to throw together for upwards of 100 people, yet complex enough to be a few steps up from something you could easily make at home. To achieve that, I stuck to my basic formula (spirit, citrus, a fun syrup and something bubbly), but I brought out all the stops with the syrup. Two types of sugar and two hearty winter herbs take this seasonal sipper over the top. :)

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Ingredients:

  • 2 parts your favorite gin scroll down for a sneak peek at my¬†(& your soon-to-be) favorite gin ūüėČ
  • 1 part fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 part rosemary thyme simple syrup, recipe to follow
  • sparkling water to top
  • fresh herb sprig of choice to garnish

Directions:

  1. Add gin, grapefruit and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake for 10-15 seconds; strain into a tumbler over fresh ice.
  3. Top with a splash or two of sparkling water and garnish as desired. Enjoy!

For the rosemary simple syrup: in a small saucepan combine 1/4 cup raw local honey, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup water; simmer until fully dissolved, 3 minutes or so. Add three or four large sprigs of fresh rosemary and three sprigs of fresh thyme. Let the herbs steep while the syrup cools, half an hour or so. Strain and discard herbs; transfer to a sealable container and store in fridge for up to one month.  

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{ photos by Lindsey Marie }

Cocktail Crawl: Little Italy San Diego

Introducing a new series: Cocktail Crawls! These posts will act as my version of neighborhood guides, complete with my favorite spots to drink, chat and snack. First up is my home turf: Little Italy!

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1. Kick things off at Crack Shack,¬†Richard Blais’ all day chicken and eggs concept, with a frothy Fros√© and some schmaltz fries (both pictured above) to fuel up for an afternoon of drinking. Theirs is one of the better versions of the white-hot trend I’ve had, made with Giffard strawberry liqueur and pureed berries. 2266 Kettner Blvd

2. Head a few blocks south for a refreshing Diego by the Bay at Kettner Exchange. It’s not on the menu anymore but chances are they’ll still shake one up for you. Gin, grapefruit, rhubarb bitters and soda create the perfect golden hour sipper. If you’re feeling another bite, go for the shishito peppers or spicy shrimp. The latter are an exact replica of Nobu’s rock shrimp creamy spicy. 2001 Kettner Blvd

3. Hike one block east up to India Street and cruise down to Prep Kitchen. The cozy upstairs space overlooks a bustling corner of Little Italy, perfect for warming up with a Comfort Blanket – orange tea-infused Bourbon, vanilla and orange – and some people watching. 1660 India St

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4. Peel yourself away and walk less than a block to San Diego’s OG craft cocktail mecca, Craft & Commerce. Their newly renovated and expanded space is definitely a sight to behold. I’ve been a big fan of the Lay Lady¬†Lay (pictured above), a lambic beer cocktail, since they first opened in 2010. Fun fact: it’s one of the few cocktails they’ve brought back from the original menu. Plus, sneaking in a low ABV cocktail on a crawl probably isn’t the worst idea, #amiright? 675 W Beech St

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5. Last but not least, cap things off at Bracero Cocina¬†(pictured above) across the street. You really can’t go wrong here but my favorites on the cocktail menu are the No Mames, a balanced and warming Mezcal cocktail, or the Passion of the Cristo with St. George Chile Vodka & Campari. And don’t even thinking about leaving without a Mexiterranean Adobada taco (or two) and some Shrimp & Bone Marrow Sopes. Thank me later! 1490 Kettner Blvd

What are your favorite spots for cocktails in Little Italy? What San Diego neighborhood would you like to crawl through next? Let me know in the comments below!

{ images 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 }

Elderflower Manhattan

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When Woody Creek sent me a bottle of their 100% Rye Whiskey my mind went wild thinking of fun ideas for cocktails to share with you. As usual, I brainstormed a few original, season applications and then moved on to twists on classics like this Elderflower Manhattan… Minor hiccup: the stuff¬†was so damn delicious that by the time I got around to recipe testing and photographing, the bottle was basically gone! Yes, THAT good.

Having long loved both wheat- and rye-heavy Bourbons, I got really into straight ryes this past year and this Woody Creek rye has to be one of the most well-balanced ones I’ve tried. In addition to the smooth warmth, stunning¬†complexity and seductive vanilla notes, I love knowing that Woody Creek distillers mill, mash, ferment and distill every single drop themselves. There are a ton of great rye whiskeys on the market today but it’s difficult to find a craft producer that actually does it all. I so appreciate Woody Creek’s dedication to the art of distilling, and will definitely be buying this whiskey as soon as I see it. Do yourself a favor and pick up a second bottle when you do – the first goes too fast. ūüėČ

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Elderflower Manhattan. Makes 1.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Woody Creek rye whiskey
  • 1 oz elderflower¬†cordial or¬†liqueur
  • 2 dashes passionfruit bitters

Directions:

  1. If using a non-alcoholic cordial*, add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake gently with ice for 5 seconds. If using a liqueur, such as St. Germain, add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir for 10-15 seconds.
  2. Strain into a rocks or DOF glass over a large cube or sphere ice mold.
  3. Garnish with fresh elderflower blossoms and enjoy!

Notes: 

  • *Traditionally any cocktail recipe that calls for a non-alcoholic¬†syrup, cordial or fresh juice should be shaken, but I wanted this cocktail to mimic the smooth, velvety texture of a proper stirred Manhattan. To achieve that with the Belvoir Farms cordial pictured below (I had run out of St. Germain, an alcoholic elderflower liqueur I prefer to use in applications like these), I shook the ingredients gently so not to break up the ice in the shaker too much and maintain as much of the natural texture of the Rye as possible, while still mixing the components thoroughly. I’d recommend using a liqueur like St. Germain and the correct mixing glass method if at all possible.
  • I find all my fresh edible flower garnishes at Specialty Produce. If you’re not located in the San Diego area, check with your local restaurant wholesale produce supplier!

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Ultimate Guide to Gin // {Infographic} Fix.com

We’re barely a week into 2017 and the guys at Fix.com have already beat me to one of my big content goals for Distillerista this year – creating beautiful, informative graphic guides to my favorite spirits… I was honored to contribute very, very minimally to their Ultimate Guide to Gin Infographic {below} and thought I’d share it with you! – Laura


Source: Fix.com Blog