California Distilleries Crafting Both Spirits and Sanitizer

Your favorite brewers and distillers enter the battle for public health (and are still making great booze, too)



Demanding times require creative solutions. Distillers and wine makers are among the California entrepreneurs rising to the occasion in the time of Covid-19, marshaling resources to craft small batches of much-needed hand sanitizer. Here are some Golden State brands that have leveraged their resources and expertise to make products that help increase public safety or even donate supplies to those who are on the front lines of this pandemic. Support them by ordering spirits, sanitizer or better yet, both.

Because the sanitizing products are being made in limited quantities, supplies may sell out quickly, so keep a sharp eye on their websites.


J.J. Pfister, Sacramento
Named for co-founder Kevin Keck’s great-grandfather’s knitted goods and textile business that flourished in the Bay Area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, J.J. Pfister started in 2017 with organic potato vodka. The locavore-oriented distillery has expanded to goods such as its Capitol Gin, which master distiller Brian Keck makes using grains from the Sacramento Valley, and is produced in the city’s so-called emerging Barrel District. If you’re in the Sacramento area, you’re doubly in luck, because the company recently debuted hand sanitizer available for purchase at the distillery. 9819 Business Park Dr., Sacramento, 916-672-9662.


Krobar Craft Distillery, Paso Robles
From pink gin to cask-strength rye whiskey that’s aged over four years, Krobar Craft Distillery at the Barton Family Estate has helped make San Luis Obsipo County a destination for spirits lovers. In addition to owners Stephen Kroener and Joe Barton’s growing repertoire, which already encompasses spirits, sweet vermouth, aperitif wine and bitters, hand sanitizer is now made using distilled wine grapes and essential oils. For every bottle of sanitizer ordered, the distillery says it will give a bottle to first responders. Call to order Barton Family wines or Krobār hand sanitizer for pickup; or order wine online. 2174 Hwy. 46, Paso Robles, 833-576-2271.


Amass, Los Angeles
Morgan McLachlan, master distiller for Amass, began experimenting with devising a formula for botanical-infused hand sanitizer as a precaution during her pregnancy. As the public health crisis grew, her experiment became a coveted necessity. The DTLA-made hand sanitizer, available to order online, contains 70 percent alcohol and a mix of botanicals, such as clove, eucalyptus and allspice, that evoke the aromatic complexity of McLachlan’s Amass dry gin. What’s more is, a portion of production is donated to healthcare professionals and nonprofit organizations working to protect and support at-risk populations nationwide.


Hoxie Spritzer, Los Angeles
Hoxie Spritzer has always taken a creative approach to its eminently sippable, refreshing sparkling wine beverages. Founder Josh Rosenstein is applying this MO to making hand sanitizer spray as part of the limited-edition Hoxie Day L.A. package, which offers pickup at Highly Likely cafe in West Adams or contact-free delivery in Los Angeles, Ventura, Ojai and Santa Barbara. Ten dollars from each $99 bundle sold will go to World Central Kitchen (with writer/producer and TV food personality Phil Rosenthal matching donations). The next edition of Hoxie Day L.A. is available online April 15-23 (or while supplies last) and in addition to providing a supply of Hoxie cans, the special collabs with other L.A. indie brands Virgil Normal, Highly Likely and Calidad Beer will help Hoxie Day L.A. recipients power through these challenging times while supporting a worthy cause.


Blinking Owl, Santa Ana
Robin and Brian Christenson, along with business partner and actor Kirsten Vangsness, launched Blinking Owl in 2016 as the first distillery to open in Orange County since Prohibition. The stylish tasting room and distillery, known for products such as aquavit and its OC Orange Flavored Vodka, made using local fruit, has also made the abrupt yet logical shift to making sanitizing products. Blinking Owl’s Dirty Bird hand sanitizer can be ordered online and is available in sizes ranging from 16 ounces to a 55-gallon drum. So far the company has donated over $10,000 in product to SoCal hospitals, including Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey, CHOC Children’s Hospital, UCLA Medical Center, as well as some local restaurants.


Feature image: In addition to vodka, BLINKING OWL makes gin and bourbon.


April 13, 2020

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