It's taken a little while for distilleries to experience a boom in L.A. the way that craft breweries have. Due to archaic laws and rising rent prices, liquor companies don't have the easiest time setting up roots in our city. But that's starting to change, as evidenced by the growing number of distilleries popping up recently. If you frequent whiskey bars or rum bars on the regular—or even if you're just curious about how vodka is made—visit one of these L.A. distilleries for a tour and a taste.
Visit these L.A. distilleries
Morgan McLachlan and Miller Duvall opened the Spirit Guild in mid-2016, a beautiful distillery boasting stained-glass windows and community events like gin-and-cheese pairings. The company produces Astral Pacific Gin using clementine oranges from Miller's family farm in Bakersfield, as well as Vapid Vodka, both of which are sampled during a tour ($10) that describes the process in thorough, scientific terms. Amaro, limoncello and brandy are in the works for 2017.
While Arts District-based Loft & Bear, one of the country's best vodka distillers, doesn't currently have a tasting room open to the public, that's all about to change: the company is opening a brand new 8,000-square-foot distillery and tasting room in Huntington Park in mid-2017. In the meantime, you can find the vodka at restaurants and bars across Los Angeles, including Lucques, Melrose Umbrella Co., Hatchet Hall, Cassia, Bestia, Café Birdie and more.
L.A.'s very first distillery opened in 2011, in a split-level, Arts District warehouse where visitors can taste their way through organic spirits that include bitters, rum, liqueur, whiskey, gin, tequila and vodka. Founded by husband-and-wife team Melkon Khosrovian and Litty Mathew, Greenbar strives to be eco-conscious: A tree is planted for every bottle sold, and labels are 100 percent recycled. Standouts here include the versatile Fruitlab Organic Orange Liqueur and the clean Slow Hand White Whiskey.
Greg Stark and Karen Robinson-Stark opened Stark Spirits in December 2013 as a microdistillery operating out of a small warehouse in Pasadena's Lincoln Corridor. On a tour here, you'll weave between stills that they've named Dragon and Esmeralda, as the Starks finish each other's sentences while talking about their award-winning rum, whiskey, aquavit, gin and brandy. Post-tour (which is free with R.S.V.P.), try Stark's signature product, Sunshine, a brandy made from hand-squeezed Valencia oranges.
Rob Rubens is both a brewery and a distillery, crafting whimsical beers and spirits in a 1940s brick building in El Segundo. During the tour, you'll learn about the Rubens family history dating back to Prohibition-era Chicago, as well as their grain-to-glass process for both spirits and beer, like the Hitman Ale, Gunpowder Cream, Hideaway Whiskey and American Vandal Vodka.
Our/Los Angeles offers visitors the chance to taste locally-made, globally-conceived vodka and tour the facility on weekday afternoons. The spirit is part of Pernod Ricard's Our/Vodka, a global brand with local distillers in six different cities around the world (Detroit, London, Berlin, Seattle and Amsterdam all have Our/Vodka distilleries, while Miami, New York and Houston are in the works). All Our/Vodka liquor is made with the same recipe, though there are a few tweaks made in each city to give the vodka a unique personality (Our/Los Angeles, for example, uses organic wheat from Idaho, while Our/Detroit uses corn). Visitors can stop by for $10 tastings Monday through Friday, 1-5pm, or during the weekend by appointment.