California is a hotbed for boutique and artisanal products. In the beverage industry, this undoubtedly brings to mind wines from a wide variety of regions that are all world-renowned. California also played a critical role in the emergence of craft beer. Both Anchor and Sierra Nevada hail from the state. Though these two sectors continue as juggernauts in their respective fields, there is another renaissance that continues to expand in The Golden State. This is craft distillates and there is at least as much innovation and creativity happening in this space as any other.

Craft spirits, even just those from California, are a wide subject matter and could not possibly be covered in a single article. For the sake of brevity and the time of year, let’s focus on something refreshing: gin.

CITY Bright Gin
City Bright Gin Greenbar Distillery drink me

New from Greenbar Distillery, City BRIGHT Gin is Los Angeles in a bottle. Drawing from the local flavors of the city, this gin is bright, bold, and warm. The aromatic herbs of East and South Asia alongside earthy flavors from Mexico and the Middle East exemplify the lively cuisine found in the area. City BRIGHT Gin is perfect to give life to gin-based cocktails and pairs well with amaro and vermouth. Easy to drink and rich on the palate, liven up your spirits collects with City BRIGHT Gin.

Find City BRIGHT Gin here

Anchor Distilling Co. Junipero Gin
Anchor Junipero drink me Top California Gins

Anchor, the same company that was a craft beer pioneer, also helped start craft gin with their Junipero Gin. The spirit is made in a London Dry style but bottled at what Anchor calls “San Francisco Strength” (49.3% ABV). Junipero is bold and the nose is full of pepper, juniper, and citrus. The palate is also held in place by strong, clean juniper but floral and herbal notes round it out.

Find Junipero Gin here


California Distilled Spirits Darjeeling Gin
Darjeeling Gin drink me Top Californian Gins

Darjeeling Gin is the crown jewel of the small operation known as California Distilled Spirits. It is created using a mix of traditional and unusual ingredients. The namesake of the gin is one of these latter botanicals and its effect is seen right away on the exotic nose which includes flavors of tea, cinnamon, citrus, and even a faint nutty character. The palate is awash with even more flavors including lavender, grapefruit, juniper, tea, mint, and spice.

Find Darjeeling Gin here


Distillery No. 209 Chardonnay Barrel Reserve Gin
No 209 Chardonnay Barrel drink me Top Californian Gins

Aging gin in barrels has been a trend for a while now but Distillery No. 209 puts a new spin on this with the use of wine barrels. For this release, the gin spent three months in Chardonnay barrels from Edge Hill Estate in St. Helena. The nose on this “wine-drinker’s gin” shows grass, butter, toffee, and oak. The palate offers fruit, juniper, cardamom, orange and eucalyptus before heading to a finish that showcases oak and butterscotch.

Find Chardonnay Barrel Reserve Gin here


Spirit Works Distillery Gin
Spirit Works Gin drink me Top Californian Gins

Spirit Works is in Sonoma County, a place intimately familiar with good drink. The company is dedicated to a “grain to glass” approach and uses organic California Red Winter wheat in their distillations. The base of wheat offers their gin a round and slightly sweet character. Botanicals including orris and angelica root, cardamom, coriander, orange, lemon, and hibiscus are layered atop the wheat and juniper base for a fresh gin.

Find Spirit Works Gin here


St. George Spirits Botanivore
St George Botanivore drink me Top Californian Gins

Botanivore from St. George plays off the term “botanical” that has an enduring connection with gin production. It is packed with 19 botanicals, a number that is easily double that of many gins. Some of the more unorthodox ingredients from this long list are cilantro, citra hops, dill seed, fennel seed, and ginger. Floral, herbal, and citrus tones meet darker tones of earth and spice to create one of the most unique and complex flavor profiles of any gin out there.

Find Botanivore here