After rattling around exploring cocktail recipes at home during the past couple of years, I jumped at the chance to take a private cocktail class at the San Diego Distillery, You & Yours. It’s one of the first, woman-owned and operated distilleries in the country. The airy space charmed me from the minute I walked in with a welcoming and comfortable vibe.
Also read: Best San Diego Distilleries
These ladies know their stuff, from the staff behind the photo-worthy bar to the class itself. After everyone assembled, we launched into making an Espresso Martini using their flagship Y&Y Vodka and locally sourced, house-made cold brew coffee.
I savored each sip and left with lingering notes of cinnamon and citrus from the newly released Up & At Em Liqueur. It’s a unique, complex, and delightful departure from sweet, simple Kahlua.
What Does You & Yours Distillery Offer?
Downtown San Diego is full of entertaining and delicious distractions – all vying for attention. It’s one reason the inviting, East Village corner bar, You & Yours, is such a welcome find. The city’s first ‘destination distillery’ has been expertly designed.
You & Yours isn’t a sleepy setup. Along with cocktail classes, they offer cooking courses, trivia nights, and a brunch menu. The Distillery event space is large enough for special happenings like bachelor or bachelorette parties, bridal showers, and birthday soirees.
Distillery Tours run Wednesday through Saturday by reservation and include a guided tasting of the current offerings. Cocktail classes are an option for ten guests.
The space is bright and comfortable, with more of an energized, living room feel than party chaos. It’s the kind of place to bring a friend or two at the end of the day or to discuss an evening’s activities. Founder, Laura Johnson planned her distillery concept that way, “I’ve said from day one that You & Yours is a hospitality company.” – Laura Johnson, Founder
About The Owner
Luckily for locals, the Texas native chose UCSD for college and made San Diego home. Pushing through as an entrepreneur was in her DNA as she grew up in a business family. And it wasn’t a straight line to starting the distillery business. Professors helped, encouraging her to strike out.
She extended her studies in distilling after graduating in Economics and International Business, then traveled the country to see what was out there and what was missing in the business. After launching You & Yours in 2017, it was a slow build until the pandemic when quality, canned cocktails took off.
Not one for coasting, Johnson is flexing more muscle now that the cocktails and spirits are gaining traction. In a surprise move, she and her husband, Luke Mahoney have purchased the Loma Country Club that’s been languishing on the edge of Liberty Station.
Their vision includes a family-friendly, high-end, mini-golf course with eighteen holes. It’s due to open in the summer of 2023. The Loma Club already serves her signature spirits in a bevy of specialty cocktails.
The Inspiration Behind You and Yours Distillery
Perhaps it was the distillery tour she took with her father on a road trip in Texas, but Johnson started her journey to full production distillery-maven while looking for the kind of gin she wanted to drink.
She kept one eye on sustainability and the other on creating thoughtfully crafted spirits for all occasions. Her love of herbal distilling led to learning mistakes through to the creation of a handful of core spirits and eight RTD’s (ready-to-drink cocktails.) Others in the industry have taken note.
Forbes Magazine included Johnson in their 2018 “Thirty Under Thirty” list. She was named an Eater Young Gun and San Diego Magazine awarded her “Best Local Spirit” three years in a row. Distillery Magazine loved the canned, Sunday Gin & Tonic and called it a “standout… that holds up with juniper, citrus, and the quinine bite of tonic.”
The spirits have also earned coveted space at high-end cocktail bars and chef-driven restaurants like Kettner Exchange, Juniper & Ivy. As well as San Diego’s three Michelin Star winner, Addison.
In the fall of 2022, Johnson unveiled the ‘Up and At Em’ Coffee Liqueur. It blends beautifully into a delicious Espresso Martini with a spicy complexity. If you enjoy drinking dessert calories, this cocktail avoids overly sweet, Kahlua-like liqueurs in favor of a uniquely satisfying and smooth array of flavors.
How You & Yours Distillery Is Giving Back
Johnson knows how helpful having mentors and advisors for anyone in the hospitality business. She’s been generous with her time, offering tips and suggestions for other distillery entrepreneurs, especially women.
She’s working with her team on sending an aspiring female distiller to Moonshine University, the 6-Day Distiller Course she attended. Order the special cocktail on the tasting room menu and at least $1 is donated to a different organization every quarter.
During the pandemic, the Loma Club large patio was a refuge for diners that supported one San Diego food business each month. The kitchen was open to help them gain some financial relief.
Other drinking establishments in the neighborhood are crowd-centric, but You & Yours concentrates on a calmer experience. It’s also easier to park in this neighborhood (unless it’s a game day at Petco Park.)
Stop by for a drink or pick up a bottle of spirits to enhance your entertaining. If planning a brunch or picnic, complement your shopping with a loaf of craft sourdough or croissants from Izola. The small bakery is just a few blocks away, hidden upstairs in a converted turn-of-the-century sewing factory.
Other diversions nearby include: Petco Park, Storyhouse Distillery, tap rooms like Ale Tales in the Shift Apartments, or boxing-club-turned-bowling-center at Punchbowl Social.
You and Yours is located in San Diego’s East Village, two and a half blocks from the Park and Market Trolley Station. The ‘urban distillery & tasting room’ offers gin and vodka, plus an array of specialty cocktails by the glass or canned cocktails in an airy, mod space.
It’s a great spot to chill or mingle with locals from the surrounding apartment complexes in the comfy, lounge area or to grab a few pictures while posing at the tiled and bright bar. When will you stop by?
Last Updated on February 10, 2023 by Maria Haase
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