My parents were in town visiting over the past weekend, which means I got to take them to some of my favorite places in California! One of these places is Ventura Spirits, a small distillery that focuses on the production of premium spirits using agricultural waste. Sounds gross, but it’s actually very cool!
Their Haymakers Vodka is made from chipping potatoes that are too small to be sold to In n Out. The potatoes are grown in Bakersfield, so you know I love that connection to the town I currently call home! The Strawberry Brandy is made from strawberries that went unsold from farmers in Oxnard (the strawberry capital of the world!). The Wilder Gin is infused with botanicals foraged from the hills around Ojai, and the resulting product is seriously the best and most captivating gin I’ve ever had.
While I love the idea of utilizing products that would otherwise go to waste, it’s really the quality of their spirits that keeps me coming back. Tastings are run by the owners of the company and their small but passionate team. Samples of each spirit are tasted straight, and some of them are followed by a simple cocktail of lemon or lime plus simple syrup. It’s not pretentious. It’s full of chill, laid back, California vibes. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and yet their pride for their products is infectious. It’s just a bunch of nice, cool people making a bunch of awesome and unique spirits that I want to drink.
On this particular visit, I came home with a bottle of their Amaro, which is delightfully sweet, floral, and citrusy up front, and has a dramatic bitter finish that makes you want to come back for more. Plus, the artwork on the bottle is very much my aesthetic. I’m adding my Amaro to my growing collection from Ventura Spirits, which includes a bottle of Haymakers Vodka, Strawberry Brandy, and Wilder Gin. You better believe my parents left fully stocked for both themselves and a select group of spirit-loving friends.
The final cool thing about Ventura Spirits is that they are always working on something new. I couldn’t help but notice some crates of Agave waiting to be turned into some “tequila-like” spirit. Mentions of an apple brandy (yes, hello?) and a sake (I’m listening) are also in the works, and you better believe I will be back to taste them. So, if you’re planning a trip to the Ventura area, stop by and say hello to the guys at Ventura Spirits! Tasting fees ($10) are waived with the purchase of spirits, and if you’re like me, you won’t be leaving empty handed. Best to go on a full stomach and designate a driver, because safety is always key when driving on the 101! I linked their website below along with some pictures from my last visit.