A Sunday Gin Gimlet for You and Yours
Years before she could legally drink, Laura Johnson was seriously into spirits. Encouraged by her parents, whom she describes as open and relaxed about alcohol, she began mixing up her own concoctions with infused vodka for Sunday dinners while dreaming of the day she could finally visit a proper cocktail bar.
In college, Johnson crafted syrups from scratch in her freshman dorm and quickly gained a reputation as an aspiring mixologist. Friends would call requesting big batch cocktails for parties, which Johnson would enthusiastically provide. After a behind-the-scenes tour of the Havana Club Distillery in Cuba, her interest was officially piqued. “Once I learned about the distillation industry and studied the craft, I was enthralled,” she says. “There’s an infinite number of opportunities to create flavor during the distillation process. For me, that’s like being a kid in a candy store. I couldn’t believe I found this craft that lends itself so well to putting one’s own personal spin on the end product.”
During her second semester of senior year, Johnson created an idea deck that eventually blossomed into an official business plan. It wasn’t long before the plan became reality. In March 2017 (at age 25!), Johnson opened the doors to You & Yours Distilling Co., California’s first urban destination distillery. Located in the East Village (in what will soon be Makers Quarter), the loft-like space is decked out with chic lounge furniture and a marble topped bar. It’s a dream location for Johnson, who always envisioned the distillery nestled in a vibrant urban neighborhood with ample foot traffic.
Currently, You & Yours is distilling two products: Sunday Gin and Y&Y Vodka. Both are precisely engineered to be highly drinkable, with nuanced flavor profiles. Guests can sample the spirits in a tasting flight, or sip them shaken in a cocktail developed by Johnson and bar manager Trevor Bowles, a Consortium Holdings alum whom she describes as “insanely talented.”
The Sunday Gin is an American-style variation that’s subtle and elegant, with bright, juicy citrus notes imparted by fresh grapefruit, Valencia orange peels, and a floral, herbaceous finish. The dominant botanical is juniper, but unlike textbook London Dry varieties, it doesn’t hit you over the head like a wrecking ball. Johnson says the juniper serves as the “connective tissue” that unites the other botanicals (including raspberry leaf, rose hips, elderflower, and dried coriander seed) and makes them sing.
For the best possible introduction, Johnson suggests a specialty gin and tonic, like the Distiller’s, a bright and zesty option with grapefruit tonic water imported from New Zealand that’s garnished with a little bit of everything distilled in the gin. The presentation was inspired by the gin and tonic culture she observed in Mexico City, where the spirit is presented with similar flourish, resulting in an exciting, multi-sensory appeal. “You get everything on the nose and visually, but also on the palate,” explains Johnson.
Being raised by vodka drinkers made distilling her own spin on the spirit a foregone conclusion for Johnson. “I knew if I didn’t, my parents would disown me,” she jokes. To get the flavor and texture just right, she researched different distillates to engineer the ultimate spirit, eventually landing on a blend of corn, potato, and grape distillates that produce a smooth, creamy foundation with fruity, floral notes and a hint of vanilla. Johnson says far and away, the most popular vodka-based cocktail is the Side Salad, a refreshing and lightly vegetal libation served in a coupe with green bell pepper and basil juice, honey, lime, a pinch of sea salt, and five drops of herb-infused olive oil floating on top.
Looking forward, Johnson is excited to debut two new offerings—an aged gin and an aperitivo-style spirit—and to break ground on a garden plot at SMARTS Farm where she’ll grow a variety of fresh herbs.
You & Yours Distilling Co. 1495 G St. San Diego 619-955-8755 youandyours.com