Gold Rush // Vocabulary Boutique

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My first part time job in college was at one of my favorite neighborhood shops: Vocabulary Boutique. Located in Little Italy, Vocabulary offers mens and women’s apparel, stationary, gifts, baby things and home decor, (including these adorable gold tumblers!). It’s literally a one-stop shop for everything, including both a last minute gift and a new outfit you need for that party. Although I no longer work for owner and proprietor Cecelia Church, she’s become a dear friend over the years. We’ve been planning a few blog collaborations ever since I launched Distillerista so stay tuned for more posts like this one where we pair some of Vocabulary’s gorgeous barware with a cocktail recipe. And be sure to scroll down to the end of the post to learn more about Cecelia and Vocabulary Boutique!

Gold-Rush-Distillerista-6{ Gold Leaf Tumblers | $18 each }

On a recent trip to visit Cecelia at Vocabulary, I couldn’t get over these gorgeous tumblers with a textured gold band around the bottom. They seemed like just the perfect vessel for a lazy but elevated late-night whiskey cocktail and this Gold Rush certainly fits the bill. On weeknights when we want a pick-me-up, Luke makes a double batch of these after dinner. They’re so easy and quick to prepare, making them the ideal nightcap to accompany our recent Narcos binges.

Gold-Rush-Distillerista-1{ Locally Made Hexagon Bamboo Cutting Board | $34 }

Makes 1 drink | Inspired by an old Seven Grand cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz your favorite Bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp raw local honey, or to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker and dry shake (no ice) for a good 30 seconds until the honey incorporates thoroughly. It helps if all ingredients are at room temp.
  2. Add ice and shake for an additional 15-20 seconds or until the entire outside of the shaker is cold to the touch.
  3. Strain into a DOF or rocks glass – whiskey cube optional – and enjoy!

Gold-Rush-Distillerista-Insta Gold-Rush-Distillerista-5 Gold-Rush-Distillerista-4  { Sugar Paper “Cheers” Coasters | $36 for a set of 10 }

Cecelia’s background is in theatre set design so it should come as no surprise that her store is decorated and merchandised immaculately. Every time I walk in she’s added yet another sweet, special touch. With new arrivals arriving almost daily, it’s my favorite place in San Diego to find unique pieces I won’t see half my friends wearing and conversation-starting pieces for my home. If you’re a San Diego resident and haven’t checked out Vocabulary yet, please do! I dare you to leave empty-handed. To purchase any of the items featured in this post email Cecelia at VocabularyBoutique@gmail.com. 

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{ All photos by Krisnoff Padua }

P.S. Check out Vocabulary Boutique’s blog, The Blah Blah Blah for more photos and inspiration!

Summer Drink Diary

Distillerista-Drink-Diary

I’ve been obsessed with PUNCH, an “online magazine focused on narrative journalism – both written and visual – about wine, beer and cocktails” (as taken from their website) for a while now and when I read this article I knew I wanted to do something similar here on Distillerista. Having been in or trying to break into the wine and spirits industry for a few years now, I’ve spent a looooot of time either loitering at or working in bars and restaurants. And since visiting popular cocktail bars and making friends with talented bartenders and beverage directors is all part of the “job” when you’re a start up distiller, I enjoy sharing their work! So on that note, I’m taking my beloved PUNCH’s lead and starting a new series, Drink Diaries! From time to time I’ll corral my amateur iPhone snaps and heavily filtered Instagrams and clue you in on what I’ve been sipping lately. I hope you enjoy!

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Weekend Brunch // These lovelies were from a fun weekend brunch at The Patio on Goldfinch in the Mission Hills neighborhood of San Diego. It’s been a while but pretty sure the one on the left was the Germain Champagne (St. Germain, mint and bubbles) and the right was the Brown Derby (Bourbon, grapefruit and honey).

Drink-Diary-Jaynes

Date Night // Thanks to our friend and fellow distiller Michael Skubic for introducing us to the ultra-charming Jayne’s Gastropub! Jayne’s has become our go-to date night spot thanks to their super cute outdoor patio, a gorgeous menu of updated British classics and some really solid cocktails and wines. Sipping on an Old Harbor Southwestern Gin Gimlet (front) of course, and a Pepino Ricardo (cucumber-infused tequila, lime juice, simple syrup and soda).

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Dinner in South Bay // This was probably my favorite cocktail of the summer, retro Manhattan Beach steakhouse Arthur J‘s The Long Goodbye. I hate carrots but am weirdly a huge fan of a carrot-lime-gin combo and this version was spot on. It was basically a gimlet of sorts with Ballast Point’s Old Grove Gin, lime, turmeric, fresh carrot juice and cardamom with a thyme sprig for garnish. So pretty and floral and refreshing. The perfect start to an indulgent meal.

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Drink-Diary-Bracero

Opening Night // As Little Italy residents and frequenters of the Valle de Guadalupe, we’d been counting the days until Baja’s current darling, Chef Javier Plascencia, opened his latest stateside establishment, Bracero, just a couple blocks away. We snagged a rez on opening night and were blown away by the service, decor and (most impressively) the consistency and flawless execution of nearly every dish we ordered. This is unheard of for a new restaurant on opening night, particularly in San Diego (sad but true), so Bracero deserves all the snaps for this one. I couldn’t resist the Agua Chile, made with fresh watermelon, Campari, St. George Spirits Green Chile Vodka and a sweet little watermelon radish on top.

Drink-Diary-Nobu

Post-Padres Snack // We usually stay away from Nobu considering Luke worked there for years, but it was just too tempting when craving a little bite to eat after a Padres game at Petco Park. I fell straight back into my old ways – Champagne 95 please and keep ’em coming (peach schnapps, orange liqueur, pineapple puree and bubbles).

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Drink-Diary-KEX

Kiwi Invasion // We had some of our favorite Kiwi friends in town for a long weekend this past summer and had a very blurry but incredibly fun few days showing them around our favorite spots.  We couldn’t resist taking them to Kettner Exchange‘s rooftop patio and partaking in a few Diego by the Bays (gin, grapefruit, lemon, rhubarb bitters and soda).

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Working Lunch // A particularly successful meeting called for a celebratory two-margarita lunch last month. Puesto at The Headquarters makes some of my favorite and the strawberry one is fruity and tart without being too sweet.

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Barçon Cocktail Co. Launch // I’ve been a MIHO Gastrotruck (San Diego’s coolest food truck) fan ever since they used to park next to the office I interned at in college every Friday! In addition to the famed truck they now have an incredibly successful catering company, The Vetted Table, and have recently launched a cocktail arm as well, Barçon Cocktail Co.! The team behind the parent company, A MIHO Experience, threw a brilliant dim-sum style cocktail hour last month at one of San Diego’s coolest bars, Sycamore Den. Our favorite was the Cracked Cucumber: Vodka, St. Germain, lime, soda and fresh cracked black pepper. We’ve been making them at home on repeat ever since!

 

I hope this Drink Diary was a fun read. Be sure to follow Distillerista on Instagram for more drink-related snaps and please tag YOUR cocktail ‘grams with #Distillerista so I can see what you’re sipping on too! 

BEE STINGER Cocktail + Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book Review

Bee-Stinger-HeaderWe officially say goodbye to summer tomorrow and I just couldn’t let the season pass without one more calendar-appropriate drink recipe. This one, cleverly named the Bee Stinger, comes from The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book. I was fortunate enough to study under several incredible Kentucky distillers and other local industry professionals during the time I spent in Louisville last year, and one person in particular I loved meeting was Joy Perrine. Joy is the spunky, wildly knowledgeable co-author of The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book and was kind enough to give us a copy. She’s been bartending in Louisville, KY for more than five decades, was named Esquire magazine’s “Bad Girl of Bourbon,” and is an absolute legend in the Kentucky Bourbon world.

I learned so much from Joy beyond just how to make delicious Bourbon cocktails. She graciously clued me in on little things I hadn’t thought of before, i.e. why you should keep your bottle heights under a 11-12 inches so bartenders can easily fit them on their shelves, how you should avoid any hanging tags or neck hangers on your bottles (they only annoy bartenders and bar backs who need to restock quickly) and that you should have a heavy enough bottomed bottle so as not to knock over easily, but not so heavy that bartenders have trouble pouring from a fresh bottle. These small but super useful facts came in handy when picking out glass for our spirits.

Joy’s book is a Bourbon lover’s dream. It contains tons of seasonal Bourbon cocktails that run the entire flavor profile spectrum – sweet, tart, savory, bitter, and everything in between. She’s also a huge believer that cocktail recipe books for the home mixologist shouldn’t call for a ton of fancy or expensive ingredients i.e. hard to find liqueurs, mixers, etc. so if you have a relatively well stocked home bar, chances are you have everything you need to make most of the cocktails in this book (or could very easily find the missing ingredients).

The Bee Stinger caught my eye because it seemed like a simple summer-appropriate application for Bourbon, but also because it’s very similar to a drink Luke loves called a Gold Rush (recipe post here!). The recipe here calls for Wild Turkey 101 (I substituted with some Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon I had on hand but your favorite Bourbon will do just fine) and Wild Turkey American Honey Liqueur. I happened to have a baby bottle of Honey Jack laying around, most likely a straggling stocking stuffer from Christmas’ past, that I used in place of the Wild Turkey Liqueur, but any honey-flavored whiskey on the market will surely do the trick. Along with Limoncello (used my friend Jeramiah’s homemade limoncello!) the drink also calls for honey sticks to garnish. You can find these thin plastic tubes of honey at your grocer, or ideally your local farmer’s market, but a drizzle of honey over the final product is a simple short cut.

Bee-Stinger-What-you-Will-NeedBee Stinger | Makes 1 drink

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Wild Turkey 101 or your favorite Bourbon
  • .75 oz Wild Turkey American Honey Liqueur or your favorite honey-flavored whiskey spirit
  • .75 oz Limoncello check out Jeramiah’s recipe for homemade limoncello from his blog The Hungry Wandering Surfer!
  • Honey sticks to garnish
  • Lemon wedge to garnish

Directions:

Combine all ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until the entire outside of the shaker is cold to the touch. Strain and garnish with lemon wedge and two honey sticks. Sipper will open sticks and pour contents into the drink. Include a small straw for stirring.

Bee-Stinger-KY-Cocktail-Book   { The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book by Joy Perrine & Susan Reigler }

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Bee-Stinger-Craft-Cocktail-Recipe

{ All photos by Megan Burgess }

Football Brunch | Entertaining With Craft Spirits

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For a die-hard Cowboys fan living in California, it’s really fun that several of the season’s games fall at 10:30 am here due to the time change. It gives me something to look forward to first thing in the morning (Mimosas! Cowboys!) and more importantly, is a perfect excuse to invite friends over for a boozy brunch! Here are some (amateur) iPhone snaps from a recent brunch Luke and I threw to kick off the season! Scroll down for how we put it all together.

Spiked-Almond-Milk-Latte-Distillerista

First thing’s first… I greeted friends with spiked almond milk lattes. Espresso, frothed almond milk, a little coconut sugar and some Leopold Bros. French Press Style Coffee Liqueur to taste.

After some unfortunate McGiver-ing with the whole NFL Redzone/Chromecast/Apple TV/Why-the-F-did-we-cancel-cable/streaming situation, we finally got the games on and moved on to some much deserved hard stuff… And by hard stuff I mean Ballast Point Bloody Marys with Hangar One Chipotle Vodka and my juicy Gin Punch, packed with tons of fresh citrus juice and some KROBĀR Gin I picked up last weekend in Paso Robles!

Football-Brunch-Distillerista-Craft-CocktailsUnfortunately Hangar One no longer produces the roasted chipotle flavor so I would substitute with St. George Green Chile Vodka }

For the food I went a little over board, I’ll admit. But brunch is my favorite and football is my favorite so whatever, I didn’t hear anyone complaining.

FootBall-Brunch-Dishes-Distillerista

I started out with a little platter of smoked salmon, super thinly shaved deli ham, red onion, cucumber and some cream cheese I softened and then mixed with fresh dill, chives and parsley. Add some toasted everything bagels and boom. Done.

Next I did two types of quiche. I loooooove quiche and we have vegetarian friends so I knew I wanted to make two versions. I made this Chicken Tortilla version from the Kitchy Kitchen (anyone else obsessed with her?) and a Mushroom Leek version. Both were amazing but I think the Mushroom Leek took the cake.

Speaking of cake, I made Blueberry Lavender muffins from my favorite paleo baking cookbook, Every Last Crumb, by Brittany Angell. I take her recipe for strawberry cream cheese muffins (page 134) and swap out freeze-dried blueberries for the strawberries, leave out the cream cheese filling and add a teaspoon of crushed dried culinary lavender for a fun twist. Thanks to Caroline for inspiring my love of Paleo baking!

Next up was the healthy addition to our spread. We chopped up one fresh pineapple, half a small watermelon and two mangos. Then we tossed them cocos frescos style with lime juice and Tajin! I’m never making fruit salad any other way again! Inspired by this

You can’t have a Sunday brunch without bacon and oh my god, we did it right. I preheated my oven to 450 degrees F and placed as many slices of bacon I could fit on a parchment lined baking sheet. I let them cook until our desired crispiness, brushing them halfway through – and then again when I took them out – with a mixture of equal parts pure grade B maple syrup and dijon mustard. Side note: I would up the mustard-to-maple syrup ratio next time, as I didn’t get that tangy dijon flavor as strongly as I’d hoped. 

Lastly, another Kitchy Kitchen dish: Roasted Tomato Tart with Paleo Cauliflower Crust. The execution of the crust was a bit touch-and-go, as paleo baking can often be, but the flavors were on point. One perk was that the recipe for the Pisto that goes on top of the crust before baking a second time made way too much and was subsequently amazing over a seared piece of fish last night!

Sadly not pictured is the incredible pumpkin stuffed pretzel french toast my friend Nusha made and brought! She totally outdid herself, this pretzel pumpkin magic was so so decadent and served as the perfect accompaniment to the otherwise savory spread we prepared.

As for decor I kept it simple: fresh flowers, Lilly Pulitzer for Target carafes & ice bucket, disposable “football” plates, napkins (Cowboys blue, obviously), cute little bamboo cutlery and chevron paper straws, duh!

That’s all, folks! I hope this inspires you to throw a football brunch of your own this season. Oh, and go Cowboys!

P.S. Here’s the cute e-vite we sent out a week or two before –>

Sunday Brunch Invite Distillerista

Five Favorites: Barrel Rested Gin

 

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I love dark liquor – especially rye and wheated bourbons and whiskies – but as you could probably guess from recent posts (here, here, and here), gin is my usual adult beverage of choice. The rise of craft distillers giving their gin some time in the barrel is the best of both worlds for me. I get those botanical juniper and spice notes that I’ve grown to love, plus a little bit of that sweet, smoky complexity I look for in an aged whiskey or tequila añejo.

Aged gin may seem like a weird concept but whether you’re a bourbon or a gin guy (or gal), this aged gin trend is something you can get behind. The majority of these barrel rested gins tend to be aged for a short amount of time, 3-6 months at the most, so the dark caramel, vanilla-y characteristics are subtle, yet do some really interesting things to those botanical flavors. If you haven’t already, give this craft distilling trend a try in your next G&T, martini or manhattan. These complex, oaky twists on the old London Dry are just the ticket for the upcoming cooler temps. Here are five of my favorites plus a few honorable mentions…

1. Barrel Gin | Spirit Works Distillery | Sebastapol, CA

The husband and wife team behind Spirit Works make delicious vodka, gins and whiskies in the heart of California winemaking country. Also in their lineup is a rare authentic sloe gin. Both their sloe and barrel aged gins are great in any cocktail in which you would use a traditional gin.

2. Barrel Aged Gin | Corsair Distillery | Nashville, TN & Bowling Green, KY

Corsair distillers are, like, the unofficial kings of experimental spirits. Their barrel gin is no joke with deep smoky notes and all the warm fuzzy feelings. Corsair experimental batches are elusive though so keep an eye out! They go fast.

3. Old Tom Gin | Ransom Spirits | Sheridan, OR

Ransom Spirits’ Old Tom gin has to be one of my favorite expressions of this aged gin trend. Old Tom-style gin, the original pre-prohibition gin for mixing cocktails, starts with a malted barley mash. This gives the gin a super sweet, grainy nose that I just love and insane complexity. A handful of months in  the barrel finishes this gorgeous spirit off perfectly. Try on the rocks with an orange peel.

4. Barrel Gin | Few Spirits | Evanston, IL

Few Spirits are pumping out some wonderful craft liquor and this barrel gin tops the list for me. This gin has so much complex spice and gourmet vanilla-type sweetness it could easily be mistaken for a genever. Try in your next classic martini.

5. Dry Rye Reposado Gin | St. George Spirits | Alameda, CA

St. George is the OG American craft distillery so you can pretty much bet your life on the fact that anything they release is going to be amazing. Their Dry Rye Reposado gin is no exception. A staggering twelve months in barrel makes this ideal for an Old Fashioned.

Also wonderful… Single Barrel Gin from Krobar Craft Distilling in Paso Robles, CA and Distillery 209’s Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Reserve Gins.

Have you tried an aged gin? What did you think?! Let me know in the comments below.

Also: A Beginner’s Guide to Western Gin

Indian Summer Cocktail + Shake Book Review

Indian-Summer-Cocktail copy

You guys have seen The Mason Shaker, right? That Mason Jar – Cocktail Shaker hybrid every hipster and their mother seem to be using to craft delicious seasonal cocktail these days? Well, I’m a huge fan. The Mason Shaker is a huge improvement over my boring, seems-to-always-get-stuck basic silver shaker and is an aesthetically pleasing addition to my home bar. I was thrilled when I saw the designers and cocktail aficionados behind The Mason Shaker, Eric Prum and Josh Williams, were releasing a cocktail recipe book to accompany their wildly successful shaker, Shake: A New Perspective on Cocktails. Much like the drinks you enjoy at your favorite neighborhood craft cocktail bar, the recipes in this book are broken up by season to reflect available produce and other seasonally appropriate liquors and liqueurs. I love that I can flip to a specific season and easily choose a drink, simultaneously skimming through recipes and cross referencing what I have in the fridge/bar. Southern California shows no signs of letting fall weather creep in so I thought this fall-inspired cocktail, aptly named The Indian Summer, was just the ticket for a particularly hot and sticky day.

Indian-Summer-Grape-Cocktail

The Indian Summer (adapted from Shake: A New Perspective on Cocktails by Eric Prum & Josh Williams)

Makes two drinks.

Ingredients:

  • 3 shots gin
  • 1 shot St. Germain
  • 1 shot fresh lemon juice
  • 8 fresh Concord grapes (plus 2 to garnish; or in my case, a mini-cluster!)

Indian-Summer-Grapes-Distillerista

Directions:

  1. Muddle 8 grapes in the bottom of your Mason Shaker until thoroughly crushed
  2. Add gin, St. Germain, lemon juice and ice to the shaker and shake vigorously for 15 seconds
  3. Strain into chilled coupes and garnish with remaining 2 grapes

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 { P.S. Great minds think alike! }

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{ All Photos: Megan Burgess of Shortography }

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Also a huge fan of Josh & Eric’s new design project (in collaboration with Punch, an online mag I’m obsessed with), the Carry on Cocktail Kit! Now available in Old Fashioned, Moscow Mule and Gin & Tonic.

Late Summer Sangria

Sangria-Recipe-Distillerista

I love the concept of Sangria. Use up some leftover or not-so-good wine, add some fruit, maybe drizzle in some liqueur if you really want to spice things up and boom! – a batched drink for a crowd that’s easy and cheap as hell. (Hello0o00 Labor Day weekend!) I used a combination of red wine, cranberry juice and citrus for this casual get together at a friend‘s new backyard, but feel free to mix up your wine-and-fruit pairing to suit both your tastes and seasonal produce availability.

Sangria-Recipe-Distillerista-Cocktail

(Recipe somewhat adapted from the infusion & cocktail recipe book, Infused. See my review and a sneak-peek here.)

Ingredients:

  • one 1.5L or two 750 mL bottles red wine. I used Barefoot Pinot Noir.
  • one 1L bottle good quality, no-sugar-added cranberry juice. I like Trader Joe’s brand.
  • 1 cup orange liqueur. I’m a big fan of Leopold Brothers’ American Orange Liqueur. It’s not too sweet and gives a great kick of true orange flavor but Cointreau or Grand Marnier would of course do the trick as well.
  • 2 apples, sliced
  • 2 oranges, sliced
  • 1 grapefruit, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 bottle sparkling water, optional

Directions:

  1.  Combine wine, juice, fruit and liqueur in a large pitcher or drink dispenser
  2.  Stir gently and let sit in the fridge for 2 hours or up to overnight
  3. Add sparkling water, if desired, right before serving

Craft-Cocktail-Sangria-Recipe-Distillerista{ BB&B Mason Jars (similar) & Drink Dispenser }

Extras:

  • If left sitting over night, I would recommend replacing soaked fruit with fresh for aesthetic purposes. Plus, the best part of drinking Sangria is eating the fruit and let’s be honest, no one wants a mushy slice of apple!
  • On the (exceptionally) rare occasion I actually have left over wine, I like to freeze it in ice cube trays and use it in place of ice when serving to guests. This prevents watered-down sangria and helps keep the drink colder longer. Win-win!

Craft-Sangria-Recipe-Distillerista

P.S. A few other Sangria combinations I’m into for late summer or fall gatherings…

  • Pinot Grigio + Peaches + Basil
  • Rosé + Melon + Mint
  • Grenache + Red Berries + Concord Grapes

What’s your favorite Sangria recipe? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks to Megan Burgess for both the photos and your gorgeous new outdoor entertaining space!

Simple Gin Punch

Gin Punch-Distillerista

It’s no secret we’re partial to the original flavored Vodka – a.k.a. Gin – here at Distillerista, so it should also come as no surprise that it’s one of my favorite spirits to create drink recipes with. When strolling through the Farmer’s Market a few months ago, deciding what to bring to a friend’s house for the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight that night (side note: I know I need to get over it, but what a waste of a perfectly good Saturday night), I picked up some citrus, trusted my old faithful spirit and came up with the idea for this delicious, honey-spiked juicy Gin punch. It has since become a summer entertaining favorite (even the guys loved it!) and I can’t help but think how perfect it’d be to sip poolside at flash Vegas day party. I’m betting (pun fully intended) Floyd and Manny wouldn’t have minded a cool glass of this post-fight. However Mayweather apparently only likes honey in tea, sooooo maybe not.

Juicy-gin-Punch-Recipe-Distillerista{ Target drink dispenser with spigot | Similar here }

Makes roughly 10-12 cocktails.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups citrusy Western-style Gin (I like Tanqueray No. 10 or a Homemade Infused Gin)
  • 4 Cups fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2 Cups fresh lemonade
  • 1-2 Cups honey simple syrup (recipe to follow), depending on desired sweetness
  • 1 bottle sparkling water
  • Several lemon, lime and/or grapefruit wheels for garnish (1 of each should do it)

Directions:

  1. Make the honey simple syrup: combine 2 cups each, water and raw local honey, in a sauce pan over medium heat and simmer until sugar is fully dissolved. Let cool completely.
  2. In a large drink dispenser or punch bowl carefully combine Gin, grapefruit juice and honey syrup. Stir gently and store in fridge if making ahead.
  3. Slice citrus into wheels and store in fridge if making ahead
  4. 10 minutes before guests arrive – or when you get to the party – add lots of ice, the sparkling water and float citrus wheels on top.
  5. Pour over fresh ice. Enjoy!

Distillerista-Gin-Punch

{ Crate & Barrel Bar Tool Set }

Extras:

  • Freeze citrus wheels with water or juice in a muffin pan for pretty – and effective! – ice cubes
  • Sub fresh orange juice and sparkling wine for the grapefruit and sparkling water and you’ve got a brunch-perfect riff on a classic Mimosa!
  • Steep 1 tbsp of culinary lavender in the simple syrup for 10 minutes for a fun floral twist.

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Gin Punch-Distillerista-Recipe

Big-Batch-gin-Punch-Distillerista

k1zRs

Gjjax

Thank you, once again, to Megan of Shortography for the shoot location and photos! How throwback-chic is her new kitchen?!

Guide to Drinking (& Eating) in Santa Barbara, CA Vol. 1

Distillerista-Guide-Santa-Barbara

Drink:

  • First thing’s first… The Lark | Stellar craft cocktail program that is not to be missed. If you can, you should definitely enjoy a full meal here but if a full sit-down dinner isn’t the cards, grab a drink and some of their orange zest & rosemary popcorn at the bar!
  • For a near perfect pre-prohibition/speakeasy-style cocktail experience… The Good Lion | Decor, atmosphere, location, authenticity, aaaaand amazing drinks?! This State St. establishment is a always a good idea.
  • Intimate setting for a glass of wine… Les Marchands | A quaint and charming wine bar in the Funk Zone. Buy a bottle to take home or enjoy amidst their adorable bistro-style setting. P.S. They also sell local craft spirits!

Good-Lion-Distillerista{ The Good Lion }

Eat:

  • For the Perfect Date Night… The Lark | If you’re familiar with the Central Coast, chances are you’ve heard of this place and I’m here to tell you: Yes, it is worth the hype. Dishes rotate but I’m always a fan of their scallops and pork belly.
  • Casual but blow-your-mind pizza… Olio Pizzeria | The Umbra, with robiola cheese, criminis and black truffles is a favorite.
  • Coffee Break… Lucky Penny | The Lark isn’t open for lunch so if you’re wandering the Funk Zone during the day, stop here for a cappuccino (or a slice of wood-fired pizza!). They also have scrumptious baked egg dishes in the morning to go with that almond milk latte.
  • Picnic Provisions… C’est Cheese |  A sweet husband and wife team run this cheese shop, bakery and cafe. Pick up a basket of goodies on your way out to Santa Ynez. Don’t forget to wash it all down with a bottle of wine! My favorite picnic spots in the valley (i.e. picnic tables, live music, gorgeous vineyard views, etc.) are the Dierberg, Foxen, or Melville tasting rooms.

Distillerista-Guide-Santa-Barbara-Cest-Cheese

{ Wine tasting essentials from C’est Cheese }

Sleep:

  • Boutique… The Canary Hotel | This adorable Kimpton property has complimentary bikes (check out the urban wine trail on lower state street upon arrival), a charging station for electric vehicles and (most importantly) a wine & cheese happy hour!
  • Charming… The Upham Hotel & Country House |  A darling historic hotel and B&B. I like to stay across the street at the “Country House,” where the innkeeper makes the fluffiest scrambled eggs and fresh bakes pastries and breads each morning. A perk worth mentioning is being woken up from your inevitable wine-induced slumber by the smell of coffee and baking spice!
  • Luxe… The Belmond El Encanto | This property is such a treat. Cruise up the hill to an upscale residential neighborhood and boom! – a luxury resort and spa surprises you, nestled right into the trees. A huge outdoor patio boasts incredible ocean views and the lobby bar will make you never want to leave property. Plus a stunning pool deck, killer restaurant and award-winning spa. This is that splurge weekend you’ve been dreaming of, trust me.

El-Encanto-Santa-Barbara-Distillerista{ Pool at El Encanto }

Play:

Cutlers-Artisan-Spirits-Distillerista{ Tasting Room @ Cutler’s Artisan }

Ascendant-Spirits-Distillerista

{ Custom Vendome situation @ Ascendant Spirits }

The-Lark-Distillerista

{ The Lark Restaurant + Bar }

{ The Umbra at Olio Pizzeria! }

What are your favorite Santa Barbara + Central Coast spots? I’d love to know!

Infused Book Review + Lavender Provençal Lemonade

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

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

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

Lavender Infused Gin or Vodka (page 21)

Ingredients:

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

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

Infused-Review-Lavender-Gin-Lemon

Lavender Provençal Lemonade (page 77)

Makes 1 drink

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

Lavender-Lemonade-Gin-Cocktail

Infused-Review-Lavender-Gin-Lemon-Distillerista

 

Thanks to Megan of Shortography for the photos!