By Aidan Pilgrim
In a city revered for its brews, a local distillery is mixing things up.
Ventura is known for many things: epic waves, stunning nature, public art — and craft beer. With the city’s current plethora of breweries, one could easily get lost in a frenzy of barley and hops, but to focus only on beer would be to miss out on another side of Ventura’s dynamic drink program: the cocktail. And cocktails are top of mind for Ventura Spirits, a micro-distillery located in Ventura’s Avenue district. Ventura Spirits are literally infusing a bit of central California into its craft spirits while simultaneously infusing a bit of diversity into the local beverage scene. The brainchild of four friends, the distillery launched in 2014 with the mission to incorporate the vast natural and agricultural offerings of California’s Central Coast to create liquors that are unexplored or underutilized, and that foster a sense of awareness, appreciation of the area, and sustainability.
That takes the shape of four current offerings:
- Wilder Gin, which features the herbaceous profile of California sagebrush, purple sage, bay, yerba santa, pixie mandarin peel, and chuchupate
- Haymakers Vodka, made from local apples and potatoes
- Strawberry Brandy, distilled from “imperfect” (but still delicious) Central Coast strawberries
- Opuntia, a prickly pear spirit made from the Nopal cactus.
So where can you try these unique libations? The distillery’s tasting room is open Friday to Sunday, from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. Visitors can sample straight tastes and mini cocktails and buy bottles to carry home. (Ventura Spirits products are currently only sold in California, which makes them a unique gift.)
The spirits are also available in drinks around town.
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