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No more prohibitions for You & Yours Distilling

Second rounds now being served at East Village urban distillery

Canned cocktails, gin and tonic, poke salad, and carrot tartare at You & Yours
Canned cocktails, gin and tonic, poke salad, and carrot tartare at You & Yours

From the moment Laura Johnson first opened You & Yours Distilling Co. two years ago, it gave East Village a craft spirit tasting room and lounge photogenic enough to lure influencers and attract national media coverage. But the urban distillery lacked one thing that capped its potential as a drinking destination: ironically, that one thing was food.

Place

You & Yours Distilling Co.

1495 G Street, San Diego

Thanks to a restrictive California law, distilleries that don’t serve food may only serve a customer 1.5 ounces of spirit per day. While traditional bars may serve multiple rounds without offering so much as a single French fry, this rule forced You & Yours to limit guests to a single cocktail. Given that drinking establishments have been known to struggle without such prohibitions, observers were forced to wonder (okay, it was me, I wondered) whether You & Yours could sustain itself only serving one drink at a time.

When I reflected on my initial concerns to Johnson this week, she chuckled. “A kitchen was always in the works,” she said, “we just didn’t have the space or capital in the very beginning.”

But she did have a business degree and a distiller’s patience. Johnson and her team have steadily worked to open markets for You & Yours bottled spirits throughout the state. The brand particularly gained steam last October, when it introduced a range of canned cocktails. Initial offerings included established favorites from the tasting room: gin and tonic featuring You & Yours Sunday Gin with grapefruit and lime scented tonic water, and a vodka mule made with peach bitters rather than the traditional angostura.

Canned cocktails — what the industry calls ready-to-drink cocktails — have thrived overseas in recent years, and industry watchers (not me this time) project rapid growth as more products debut in the United States. Case in point: Miramar’s Cutwater Spirits spent the past two years heavily pushing its canned cocktail line, likely contributing to its status as the first spirit producer purchased by the world’s largest beer company, AB InBev, back in February.

While You & Yours is poised to capitalize on this projected growth, Johnson had another perspective in mind when she included ready to drink cocktails in her business plan. “We’re more looking at the canned cocktails as a tool to sell our spirits,” she explained, “It’s a lot easier for a consumer to take a chance on a 15 dollar four-pack of canned cocktails than it is a 30 dollar bottle of gin.”

And not just retail customers. You & Yours recently placed its canned cocktails in Whole Foods locations, and will expand all of its Southern California stores by the end of June. The early response has already prompted the chain to add You & Yours bottles to its inventory.

With its wholesale market now established, Johnson secured a second East Village location to increase canning capacity and storage, freeing up space behind its distillery to add that kitchen. The tasting room is now equipped to serve a menu of small and sharable plates, stuff like salmon poke or fried chicken, along with recommended cocktail pairings. A new patio will allow drinkers and diners to find additional seating outside.

With the infrastructure upgrades complete, Johnson may now return her focus to developing new products. She expects to introduce the first You & Yours apertivo by early winter, and has five new canned cocktails in the works.

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Canned cocktails, gin and tonic, poke salad, and carrot tartare at You & Yours
Canned cocktails, gin and tonic, poke salad, and carrot tartare at You & Yours

From the moment Laura Johnson first opened You & Yours Distilling Co. two years ago, it gave East Village a craft spirit tasting room and lounge photogenic enough to lure influencers and attract national media coverage. But the urban distillery lacked one thing that capped its potential as a drinking destination: ironically, that one thing was food.

Place

You & Yours Distilling Co.

1495 G Street, San Diego

Thanks to a restrictive California law, distilleries that don’t serve food may only serve a customer 1.5 ounces of spirit per day. While traditional bars may serve multiple rounds without offering so much as a single French fry, this rule forced You & Yours to limit guests to a single cocktail. Given that drinking establishments have been known to struggle without such prohibitions, observers were forced to wonder (okay, it was me, I wondered) whether You & Yours could sustain itself only serving one drink at a time.

When I reflected on my initial concerns to Johnson this week, she chuckled. “A kitchen was always in the works,” she said, “we just didn’t have the space or capital in the very beginning.”

But she did have a business degree and a distiller’s patience. Johnson and her team have steadily worked to open markets for You & Yours bottled spirits throughout the state. The brand particularly gained steam last October, when it introduced a range of canned cocktails. Initial offerings included established favorites from the tasting room: gin and tonic featuring You & Yours Sunday Gin with grapefruit and lime scented tonic water, and a vodka mule made with peach bitters rather than the traditional angostura.

Canned cocktails — what the industry calls ready-to-drink cocktails — have thrived overseas in recent years, and industry watchers (not me this time) project rapid growth as more products debut in the United States. Case in point: Miramar’s Cutwater Spirits spent the past two years heavily pushing its canned cocktail line, likely contributing to its status as the first spirit producer purchased by the world’s largest beer company, AB InBev, back in February.

While You & Yours is poised to capitalize on this projected growth, Johnson had another perspective in mind when she included ready to drink cocktails in her business plan. “We’re more looking at the canned cocktails as a tool to sell our spirits,” she explained, “It’s a lot easier for a consumer to take a chance on a 15 dollar four-pack of canned cocktails than it is a 30 dollar bottle of gin.”

And not just retail customers. You & Yours recently placed its canned cocktails in Whole Foods locations, and will expand all of its Southern California stores by the end of June. The early response has already prompted the chain to add You & Yours bottles to its inventory.

With its wholesale market now established, Johnson secured a second East Village location to increase canning capacity and storage, freeing up space behind its distillery to add that kitchen. The tasting room is now equipped to serve a menu of small and sharable plates, stuff like salmon poke or fried chicken, along with recommended cocktail pairings. A new patio will allow drinkers and diners to find additional seating outside.

With the infrastructure upgrades complete, Johnson may now return her focus to developing new products. She expects to introduce the first You & Yours apertivo by early winter, and has five new canned cocktails in the works.

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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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