BLINKING OWL DISTILLERY Brian Christenson’s great-granddad kept a distillery in the basement of his farm. But this Santa Ana gem—cofounded by Christenson, wife Robin and Criminal Minds star Kirsten Vangsness—is all above board, cooking up and selling its craft gin, vodka, whiskey and aquavit on-site. Look for the limited release of the Barrel Vacationed Old Tom gin.
DESMADRE TEQUILA Newport-based Marcos Higareda teamed with father-son distillers Rosendo Ramirez Gamino and Rosendo Ramirez Falcon on a new trio of premium tequilas made from non-GMO agave picked by hand, steamed in spring water and chill-filtered for a velvety spirit to sip or mix.
COLIN PFLUGRADT The pineapple-vanilla infusion he concocts at Solita in Huntington Beach is liquid magic. He takes Agavales Blanco; adds fresh pineapple, Madagascar vanilla beans and a little lime; then lets it soak for 48 hours. This summer, he’s adding watermelon and the juice of young Thai coconuts to the mix.
SHANE REEVES He runs the show at Disney’s California Adventure’s Carthay Circle, and quite the show it is when you order the Manhattan. It starts with the making of a large sphere of ice. Then he mixes the whiskey, bitters and sweet vermouth in a martini pitcher with slow-melting Kold-Draft ice. The grand finale: three Luxardo cherries.
JEFFERSON MATTHEW VANBILLIARD You might remember him from his days at Lola Gaspar and Memphis Cafe. Now he’s shaking things up at McFadden Public Market’s Under Control (you’ll find it in Santa Ana), where he serves up libations like his Old-Fashioned. A hint of cherry bark lends an earthy quality.
GABE WHORLEY He’s the creative dreaming up the cocktails at Vine in San Clemente, Ironwood in Laguna Hills and the soon-to-open Olea. The O.C. native uses fresh fruits and herbs in drinks like his Ginbo Slice—“an adult snow cone” made with gin, thyme (plucked from the garden at Vine), hints of lime, kiwi, clove and anise, and a Luxardo cherry on top.