St. George Spirits 2601 Monarch St., 4 mi. from downtown, (510) 769-1601. Tasting on the hour, W-Sat 12-6, Sun 12-4; $15. Tour+tasting W, Thur, & F at 5:30, Sat at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6, Sun at 1, 2, 3, & 4; $20. Reservations advised.
Located way out there, through a residential area and then past a plethora of boarded-up buildings on the former Alameda Naval Air Station, this distillery operates inside a huge repurposed hangar. The tour is a must and prepares you for your tasting.
You’ll find out how copper stills work and learn that 30 pounds of pears is used in just one bottle of pear brandy! I heard way more than I could drink in and digest.
I was most interested by the story about absinthe, which just became legal in the U.S. in 2007. In fact, St. George Spirits was the first American company since 1912 to produce and sell absinthe in the U.S.
I also enjoyed meeting the celebrity shark Bruce, who ate Samuel L. Jackson and LL Cool J in the “Deep Blue Sea” movie.
After, we tasted five items, including Dry Rye Gin, a gin-whiskey love child; Terroir Gin, which tastes like a forest; and the celebrated olive-oil green Absinthe Verte, which is poured over ice and tastes of licorice. Suffice it to say that you can get hammered even on the tiny tastes that are poured. Drink the water provided.
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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers