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April 1, 2023

Craft Spirits to Stock Up

Homemade cocktails from local liquors

For those who like to keep a well-stocked home bar, it may seem like a no-brainer to include a few special, locally made craft spirits in the mix. 

After all, Sonoma County is home to more than a dozen craft distilleries. But I would challenge one to go further, and stock an entire home bar with locally made products—from gin, vodka and whiskey to flavored liqueurs, bitters, syrups and even custom-made, bar-grade shaped ice. 

How? Use this guide to build and stock a “made in the North Bay” home bar.


When it comes to locally crafted vodka, Hanson of Sonoma (Sonoma) and Spirit Works (Sebastopol) are specialists. Hanson’s vodka is distilled from wine the distillery makes with organic grapes and comes in a variety of flavors (mandarin, lemon, habanero, espresso, etc.), while Spirit Works vodka is distilled from organic Californian red winter wheat. Both distilleries have won numerous awards and accolades for their vodka.




For craft gin, look no further than Sipsong Spirits (Windsor), Young and Yonder (Healdsburg) and Spirit Works.

Sipsong’s Indira Gin is crafted from a blend of grape and corn spirit and distilled with a blend of 13 botanicals. 

Young and Yonder’s H.O.B.S. Gin is distilled from organic corn and macerated with organic botanicals that include: juniper, lemon peel, coriander, lavender, hibiscus, bay leaf, angelica root and cardamom.

Spirit Works Gin is distilled from organic Californian red wheat and distilled with a blend of both traditional and Californian botanicals, including juniper, lemon zest, orange and hibiscus.




Whiskey and Bourbon

For great small batch rye whiskey or bourbon, head to Alley 6 Craft Distillery, Young and Yonder or Barber Lee Spirits (Petaluma). 

Alley 6 crafts their rye whiskey in traditional copper alembic pot stills, from a blend of rye and malted barley mash, before aging it for 18 months in heavy charred American white oak barrels. They also do a single malt barley whiskey.

Barber Lee Spirits crafts their single malt rye whiskey in a copper Alembic still and ages it in heavy charred American oak barrels. They also make an heirloom bourbon from a blend of three different kinds of non GMO heirloom corn, malted barley and malted rye.

Young and Yonder crafts their straight bourbon whiskey from a blend of non GMO corn, rye, wheat and barley and ages it in American oak barrels for a minimum of two years. 





For sipping brandy or premium brandy for classic brandy cocktails, try Sonoma Brother Distilling’s Brandy, made with Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc; Prohibition Spirit’s Chauvet Brandy, made with California Colombard grapes and aged between 10-20 years (VS, XO, XOX); or Barber Lee Spirits Apple Brandy, made with the juice of Gravenstein and Fuji apples. 




Flavored Liquors, Liqueurs, Digestifs and Bitters

These locally crafted liquors, liqueurs and digestifs are fantastic replacements for big brand, mass produced products like Kahlua, Campari and Angostura.

Griffo Distillery Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur—Made with Equator Coffees & Teas Mocha Java blend and five time distilled vodka, this coffee liqueur will inspire one to ditch the Kahlua, permanently. 

Young and Yonder Spirits Amaro—This California Amaro offers the classic bitter-sweet balance of a traditional Amaro digestif, with rich citrus flavors of grapefruit, orange and lemon peel. 

Bitter Girl Bitters—This bartender founded business in Penngrove crafts unique bitters (concentrated flavor extracts for seasoning) from homegrown and locally sourced ingredients, including pears, hops, roses, lavender, mint, walnuts, pomegranates and prickly pear.




Syrups and Shrubs

Every mixologist needs a selection of simple syrups, flavored syrups and/or shrubs to concoct uniquely delicious libations. From plain simple syrup and classics like vanilla bean, Meyer lemon and mint to specialty and seasonal flavors like lavender, hazelnut and pumpkin spice, Sonoma based Sonoma Syrups is a bartender’s dream come true.

For shrubs–flavored cider vinegar syrups that brighten up any cocktail—Little Apple Treats offers a mouthwatering range, made from apples and fruit grown on their Sebastopol farm. 



Bar Quality Ice Cubes

Petaluma based startup Abstract Ice offers amateur bartenders the opportunity to bring bar quality craft ice cubes to their home bar. Abstract’s craft ice is frozen crystal clear, using pure water, and is available in a variety of shapes and sizes at several local retailers, including Griffo Distillery, Bottle Barn, Wilibees and Big John’s Market. 



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