ST. GEORGE SPIRITS
BAY AREA BOOZE BASTION & MUST VISIT
I first heard of St. George Spirits at the wonderful mixology event that was Art Beyond the Glass held at the fabulous Sadie in Hollywood back in June. If you don’t already know, St. George Spirits is an artisanal distillery known for producing Hangar One Vodka, absinthe, single malt whiskey, and a range of exotic, high-end liqueurs, including Eau de vie dry fruit spirits.
Best known for its Hangar One vodkas, which I am quite familiar (I even flew in the Hanger One blimp, which was awesome!), I never made the connection to St. George Spirits whose distillery is located in a former airplane hangar in Alameda (right next to Oakland). A popular destination for locals and visitors, the distillery and its cool tasting room attract nearly 25,000 visitors a year.
During my recent visit to the Bay Area to run the first half of the San Francisco Marathon, I made sure to stop by the distillery for a visit. Take my advice and go on their Basic Training course, which is offered Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 7pm, and Sundays from noon to 5pm. For $15 you will tour the distillery, learn all you ever wanted to know about the distillation process, and sample a variety of different spirits all made on-site at St. George Spirits.
After our informative and irreverent tour (a welcome relief from the standard and boring tours you often find at museums and booze related events) we sampled pours of the following…
- Aqua Perfecta Pear Eau de Vie
- Hangar One Straight Vodka
- Hangar One Mandarin Blossom Vodka
- Hangar One Buddha's Hand Citron Vodka
- St. George Botanivore Gin
- St. George Terroir Gin
- Qi Black Liqueur
- Breaking & Entering Bourbon
- Firelit Coffee Liqueur
- St. George Absinthe Verte
You definitely get your money’s worth with their no-nonsense tasting. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and have a designated driver or call for a cab. Be forewarned this is a trek from San Francisco and is somewhat in the middle of nowhere, but don’t let that stop you as this is a must visit. And now I can honestly say that absinthe with root beer rocks! Who knew? Thanks St. George Spirits!
This is a fun bunch of liquor lovers who don’t take themselves too seriously, enjoy a good pour, and really know their business. I’m now a big fan of their tasty liqueurs, B&E Bourbon, and of course, the aforementioned St. George Absinthe Verte with root beer.
St. George Spirits is located at 2601 Monarch Street in Alameda. Visitors welcome Wednesday–Saturday noon–7pm; Sunday noon–5pm. Last call is one hour before closing time. Call 510-769-1601. This is a 21-and-over establishment.
A VISIT TO THE HUNTINGTON LIBRARY
A visit to the world-renowned Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Think of it as mini getaway to refresh and recharge your mind and body.
The property is surrounded by 120 acres of breathtaking gardens and four art galleries and a library showcasing magnificent collections of rare books and manuscripts, European art from the 15th to the early 20th century, and American art from the late 17th to the early 20th century. Each year, more than 500,000 visitors from around the world enjoy The Huntington, and more than 1,400 researchers conduct scholarly studies among the vast collections.
To give you a little history, The Huntington, located in San Marino, which is adjacent to Pasadena, was founded by railroad and real estate magnate Henry Edwards Huntington in 1919. The museum and gardens opened to the public in 1928.
While the heart of The Huntington may very well be the library, which contains more than six million manuscripts, books, photographs and other works in the fields of American and British history, literature, art, and the history of science, medicine, and technology, it’s the breathtaking botanical gardens that I found to be the main attraction. Containing more than 14,000 different kinds of plants in more than a dozen principal garden areas, including the Japanese, Rose, Shakespeare, Camellia, Jungle, Palm, and Australian gardens, your senses will be amazed and overwhelmed. And don’t forget the spectacular 10-acre Desert Garden, which includes nearly 5,000 species of desert plants in a variety of unusual shapes, forms and colors that are also a delight to visitors year round.
Because The Huntington isn’t open all day long, it’s nearly impossible to see everything in one visit, so if you have to choose, spend the afternoon taking in the incredible sights that the vast gardens have to offer. While I’m far from a garden lover, I just found the Huntington’s gardens simply beautiful, and a great and relaxing departure from the stress of 9 to 5 life.
While it’s so easy to get lost in the spectacular gardens, it’s hard to fathom that manic downtown Los Angeles is so close. Like the awe-inspiring Getty Center to the west, this is a must-see attraction that most locals probably never even think of visiting, but believe me, it’s so worthwhile. Make a day out of it and treat yourself right and getaway and take in the unbelievable sights. You’ll feel better after.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens are located at 1151 Oxford Road in San Marino. Call 626-405-2100.
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from noon to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Tuesdays and major holidays.
Admission on weekdays: $15 adults, $12 seniors (65+), $10 students (ages 12 – 18 or with full-time student I.D.), $6 youth (ages 5 – 11); free for children under 5. Admission on weekends and Monday holidays: $20 adults, $15 seniors, $10 students, $6 youth, free for children under 5. Admission is free to all visitors on the first Thursday of each month with advanced tickets.
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