The Bay Area is famously foodie, and of course we have the Wine Country, but we also have some of the most inspired spirits in the country, if not the world.
Back in July, we attended a very interesting panel with four leading Northern California spirits makers: Lance Winters, Proprietor and Master Distiller at St. George Spirits; Marko Karakasevic, Master Distiller at Charbay Winery & Distillery; Davorin Kuchan, Proprietor and Master Distiller at Old World Spirits; and Salvatore Cimino, Master Distiller and Proprietor at 1512 Spirits. The always lovely Virginia Miller, of The Perfect Spot and the SF Bay Guardian, artfully moderated this cadre of, um, spirited fellows as they discussed what makes the NorCal spirits scene so unique and remarkable. Ultimately it comes down to the one-two punch of dedication to craft combined with an adventurous spirit and willingness to experiment with new techniques and flavors.
This of course involves occasional failures. One of them noted that, following a successful run with distilling mushroom infusion, they tried doing something similar with crab shells, since mushrooms and arthropod shells are both made of chitin. However, crabs have more than just chitin, and what they ended up with was basically low tide vodka.
Afterwards, yes, there was a tasting. I've long been a fan of St. George Spirits and Charbay both, but absolutely fell in love with Old World Spirits' Blade and Rusty Blade gins, and most especially their nocino, the most refined version I've ever had.
St. George Spirits/Hangar One is what you'll most commonly find in our cabinet, though. We've toured the facility in Alameda, and always eagerly seek out their new creations. A few years ago we got hooked on their Chipotle Vodka (and even created a cocktail, the Cuchi Cuchi, pictured above), and we recently did vertical tastings of their three gins. Each is wonderful in its own way, but I keep coming back to Terroir, designed to evoke the aromas and flavors of the slopes of Mt. Tam.
This year marks St. George Spirits' 30th anniversary, and this Friday they are working with the Commonwealth Club once again to celebrate. Their three generations of distillers will speak, including "evil genius" Lance Winters, whom we saw at the previous event, plus there'll be an exclusive tour of the facility and, of course, cocktails and an after party. Will we see you there?
30 Years Under the Influence: St. George’s Tale of Liquid Courage
Friday, November 30, 2012 from 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM (PST)