Spirits Around Town
To make the best cocktails you need to start with the best ingredients. Fortunately, Sonoma County distilleries have been on the leading edge of the spirits revolution from the very beginning. When you think of distilling you may think of mashing, fermenting, and distilling, but Sonoma County distillers focus on small, handcrafted batches. They also lovingly mill the grain, barrel, and even label and bottle their own creations. They are truly grain to glass.
The spirts produced in Sonoma County include: whiskey, rye whiskey, wheat whiskey, single malt whiskey, flavored whiskey, gin, London dry gin, sloe gin, flavored gin, barrel-aged gin, peach liquor, brandies, aged brandies, flavored brandies, vodka, flavored vodkas, absinthe, bourbon, ryed bourbon, wheat bourbon, grappa, coffee liquor, beer schnapps, limoncello, orangecello, figcello, light rum, amber rum, dark rum, moonshine, and black walnut liquor.
Join a guided distillery tour to get a behind-the-scenes look at how spirits are made or join one of the many spirts clubs that are offered by the distilleries. For a listing of Sonoma County spirit producers click here.
Bitters, Shrubs, and Syrups
Sonoma County’s culture is farm to table and the same can be said about our cocktail culture. Not only do we have an array of award-winning spirits distilled in Sonoma County, but we also have the building blocks to great cocktails being created here. We create the bitters from botanicals, like aromatic herbs, bark, roots, and fruit. Local producers include Bitter Girls and Monarch Bitters. Sonoma County also specializes in drinking vinegars know as shrubs and these shrubs are swiftly gaining in popularity in high-end bars as a base for fancy drinks. Many mixologist make their own or you can find them made locally like those from Little Apple Treats. Our syrups are also world-class and used for everything from food to cocktails and you can find many different flavors and versions including those from Sonoma Syrup.
James Bond preferred the simple martini shaken of course, not stirred. In Santa Rosa, cocktails have become an art form, and drinking them is only half the fun. The other half is watching the mixologist behind the bar crafting, shaking, stirring, and pouring artful drinks with ease while using the local spirits, bitters, and shrubs from the very producers you visited earlier in the day. Some of our favorite cocktails and cocktail bars not only use local ingredients, they of course use seasonal ingredients, many of them coming straight from the farms around Sonoma County.
At the Front Room, the first indication of creative cocktails is before you even enter as you notice the garden where they grow the fresh seasonal ingredients used in their cocktails. The next indication of detail is the beauty of the curved bar, handcrafted from fir, and accented with an iridescent cobalt blue mosaic tile top that winds its way along the wall. In Downtown Santa Rosa, 4th Street Social Club owner and mixologist Melissa Matteson creates a sensory experience using ingredients from Sonoma County including vodka, lemon, lavender, and blue butterfly tea, a liberation with color-changing amazingness that promises to brighten your day. At Perch + Plow try the cocktail flight, a seasonal mule, or one of the tap handle cocktails.
Of course, this is just the start of the possibilities. Santa Rosa and Sonoma County offer more than a dozen artisan distilleries and way too many great locations for cocktails to even mention here.