Raise a glass to these locally based liquor producers.
1. Blinking Owl Distillery
As Orange County’s very first craft distillery, Blinking Owl is the brainchild of Brian and Robin Christenson, who bring passion to every award-winning bottle of vodka, gin, whiskey and aquavit they produce. Its new dining menu—boasting pizzas made with rye dough from the same grains used in its whiskeys—and cocktails—try the vodka-tinged Moonbeam—give plenty of reason to stay and sip awhile at its Santa Ana tasting room. 802 E. Washington Ave., Santa Ana, 714.852.3947, blinkingowldistillery.com
2. Drift Distillery
Drift Distillery’s awardwinning gin PHOTO: COURTESY OF DRIFT DISTILLERY
It’s a family affair for owners Ryan and Lesli Winter who utilize grains sourced from their parents’ family farm near Bison, Kan., to make their small-batch spirits. That sentimental approach is felt further at the brand’s San Clemente tasting room, which was built from a 100-year-old barn from the farm. Its vodka, unaged wheat whiskey, gin and rum have all garnered multiple awards, and 2021 will see the launch of its first bourbon, along with other specialty whiskies in the future. 940 Calle Amanecer, Ste. K, San Clemente, 949.388.0700, driftdistillery.com
San Diego’s FruitCraft has it all— from hard kombuchas and ciders to wines and spirits. Launched in 2009 by founder Alan Haghighi, FruitCraft sets itself apart by fermenting a wide range of fruit to create its high-quality alcohols. Visit its Hillcrest tasting room to try its new cranberry and cherry pomegranate hard seltzers. For those ready to celebrate special occasions, FruitCraft ’s charming event venue is also open for parties as small as eight up to 150 guests. Let the revelry begin. 1477 University Ave., Hillcrest, 877.484.6282, fruitcraft.com
4. OTACA Tequila
OTACA tequila. PHOTO: COURTESY OF OUTSHINE PR
Launched in March 2021, Dana Point couple Anthony and Nicole Accetta are ready to bring the spirit of Mexico to SoCal with the debut of OTACA Tequila and its first release, The Plata, a sipping spirit made from 100% blue Weber agave piñas. An acronym for “once tried, always craved, agave,” OTACA aims to add a reposado and an añejo to its portfolio in the near future. Try its inaugural tequila at Red O, Sol Agave and Javier’s, among others, or grab a bottle at Hi-Time Wine Cellars and Old Town Liquor. Nicole says it best: “OTACA Tequila is a bottled celebration of terroir, history and culture that illuminates the depth and intricacies that agave-based spirits have to offer.” Bottoms up! otacatequila.com
5. You & Yours Distilling Co.
You & Yours Distilling Co. founder Laura Johnson at her San Diego tasting room PHOTO: BY MEGAN JANE BURGESS
Billed as California’s first urban destination distillery, You & Yours began its journey in 2015 thanks to founder Laura Johnson, who has been lauded for her beloved vodka and gins. Head to its full-production distillery, event space and tasting room to sample its extensive cocktail menu—from the Canta-Keep Us Down featuring its London Dry gin to the Kumquat Sour highlighted by Y&Y citrus vodka, kumquat syrup and a garnish of basil leaves and micro marigold. 1495 G. St., East Village, 619.955.8755, youandyours.com