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Year of the woman distiller

"These are things I know how to do."

A stylish bar serves cocktails and spirits distilled on site.
A stylish bar serves cocktails and spirits distilled on site.

A new spirits company debuted in East Village with the March 9th opening of the You & Yours Distilling Co. tasting room (1495 G Street).

Place

You & Yours Distilling Co.

1495 G Street, San Diego

You & Yours is the brainchild of founder and distiller Laura Johnson, who for the past several years has made a name for herself among liquor aficionados with the craft spirits and cocktails blog Distillerista. But Johnson's interest in distilling goes back further than that. "I went on a distillery tour on a whim when I was 17 or 18," she recalls. "I remember doing that and being incredibly enthralled."

Upon graduating from the University of San Diego, the Texas native immediately enrolled in her first distilling course and spent nine months traveling the country, shadowing distillers and, she says, "really immersing myself in the craft." Upon return, she began looking for work in the nascent craft-spirits industry.

The custom 250-gallon still

"I reached out to every distillery in Southern California at the time," she says, but there was only front-of-house work, as a server or hostess; nothing in production. "It was a little disheartening," she confesses, but she ultimately looked at it as an opportunity to get an early start on her long-term dream: to start her own spirits company. "I'll just write a business plan, raise capital," the business major remembers thinking. "These are things I know how to do."

At that time, there were only three liquor producers in the county. Three years later, the number's approaching fifteen. However, most of them are scattered around industrial areas and in the outskirts of the county. Johnson has navigated the strict state and local regulations governing distilleries to open an urban distillery in a rapidly developing section of downtown.

She says opening far from San Diego's urban center was never an option. "So much of what I wanted this to be relied on this downtown urban vibe," she explains, "I said from the beginning, ‘If we can't find a way to make it work in an urban area, then let's wait a few years and hopefully the laws change.’”

While regulations have eased, the state still places a limit on how much distillery tasting rooms can serve guests in one day: 1.5 ounces. At You & Yours, that means guests may taste a sample of whichever spirits are available, or a single cocktail.

For her cocktail program, Johnson has enlisted the help of mixologists Chris Frierson and Trevor Bowles, both veterans of Consortium Holdings cocktail bars. They've developed a menu of 11 cocktails featuring You & Yours' first two spirit brands: Sunday Gin, which features the additions of rose hips, coriander, and mint in addition to the traditional juniper; and Y&Y Vodka, a corn-and-potato-based neutral spirit finished with clear, un-aged brandy.

Bottles of these spirits are available in the tasting room only to start, and Johnson says she'll pursue distribution in a few months, as the brand evolves. While most spirit companies in San Diego have their long-term sights firmly fixed on producing whiskey, Johnson and partner Luke Mahoney have different priorities. With Johnson operating a 250-gallon custom still located behind the tasting-room bar, You & Yours aims to produce vermouth, Italian-style aperitivos, and different varieties of eu de vie — distilled from fruits such as cherries, stone fruit, apples, or pears.

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A stylish bar serves cocktails and spirits distilled on site.
A stylish bar serves cocktails and spirits distilled on site.

A new spirits company debuted in East Village with the March 9th opening of the You & Yours Distilling Co. tasting room (1495 G Street).

Place

You & Yours Distilling Co.

1495 G Street, San Diego

You & Yours is the brainchild of founder and distiller Laura Johnson, who for the past several years has made a name for herself among liquor aficionados with the craft spirits and cocktails blog Distillerista. But Johnson's interest in distilling goes back further than that. "I went on a distillery tour on a whim when I was 17 or 18," she recalls. "I remember doing that and being incredibly enthralled."

Upon graduating from the University of San Diego, the Texas native immediately enrolled in her first distilling course and spent nine months traveling the country, shadowing distillers and, she says, "really immersing myself in the craft." Upon return, she began looking for work in the nascent craft-spirits industry.

The custom 250-gallon still

"I reached out to every distillery in Southern California at the time," she says, but there was only front-of-house work, as a server or hostess; nothing in production. "It was a little disheartening," she confesses, but she ultimately looked at it as an opportunity to get an early start on her long-term dream: to start her own spirits company. "I'll just write a business plan, raise capital," the business major remembers thinking. "These are things I know how to do."

At that time, there were only three liquor producers in the county. Three years later, the number's approaching fifteen. However, most of them are scattered around industrial areas and in the outskirts of the county. Johnson has navigated the strict state and local regulations governing distilleries to open an urban distillery in a rapidly developing section of downtown.

She says opening far from San Diego's urban center was never an option. "So much of what I wanted this to be relied on this downtown urban vibe," she explains, "I said from the beginning, ‘If we can't find a way to make it work in an urban area, then let's wait a few years and hopefully the laws change.’”

While regulations have eased, the state still places a limit on how much distillery tasting rooms can serve guests in one day: 1.5 ounces. At You & Yours, that means guests may taste a sample of whichever spirits are available, or a single cocktail.

For her cocktail program, Johnson has enlisted the help of mixologists Chris Frierson and Trevor Bowles, both veterans of Consortium Holdings cocktail bars. They've developed a menu of 11 cocktails featuring You & Yours' first two spirit brands: Sunday Gin, which features the additions of rose hips, coriander, and mint in addition to the traditional juniper; and Y&Y Vodka, a corn-and-potato-based neutral spirit finished with clear, un-aged brandy.

Bottles of these spirits are available in the tasting room only to start, and Johnson says she'll pursue distribution in a few months, as the brand evolves. While most spirit companies in San Diego have their long-term sights firmly fixed on producing whiskey, Johnson and partner Luke Mahoney have different priorities. With Johnson operating a 250-gallon custom still located behind the tasting-room bar, You & Yours aims to produce vermouth, Italian-style aperitivos, and different varieties of eu de vie — distilled from fruits such as cherries, stone fruit, apples, or pears.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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