One of the most fun and relatively cheap day trips you can take in the Bay Area is to St. George Sprits, home of the famous Hangar One vodka. My husband and I took the Ferry over to Alameda and we walked a kinda long and somewhat desolate path to a big old ex-military hangar that houses one of the best distilleries in the US. I would say, the world, but I don’t know much about distilleries around the world. Click here to get the low down on tours.
We took the awesome tour with Paul Martin, who looks like Turtle from entourage and learned some valuable Cliff Claven-like factoids about booze. I will write more on Paul and St. George Spirits after the cool factoids. (scroll allllll the way down to see photos from my tour.)
YOU CAN MAKE VODKA OUT OF ANYTHING – T or F?
You can make vodka from anything that contains enough sugars to ferment and create alcohol. You cannot make vodka out of rocks or cardboard. You can infuse vodka with rocks and cardboard, but why would you? Vodka is a spirit that has been distilled to 95% alcohol. Hide the matches!
GIN IS VODKA – T or F?
According to Paul, it is one of the “original gangsters of infused/flavored vodkas”, but essentially gin is a vodka that has been infused with Juniper berries, but does not have to be 95% alcohol.
DISTILLING A LOT IS A GOOD THING FOR VODKA – T or F?
You have seen the commercials for trendy vodkas claiming that they distilled a million times for a more pure taste. Paul says, distilling removes impurities, but when you start with a good base… a.k.a good ingredients… you don’t want to filter out all of the beautiful nuances of whatever you are fermenting with. You want to maintain the subtle notes and in the case of Hangar One… it is made with Viognier white wine grapes and wheat. Vodka that has been distilled to smithereens tastes like nothing.
FREEZING SPIRITS IS GOOD – T or F?
If you freeze vodka, gin or tequila it is because you don’t like the taste of said spirit. That being said, a great spirit can elevate a cold cocktail to an entirely different level. See recipes below.
WHISKEY IS SCOTCH – T or F?
Scotch is just whiskey made in scotland, like champagne, cognac and tequila… it’s name is derived from where it is produced. All Scotch is whiskey, but not all whiskey is Scotch.
SINGLE MALT SCOTCH OR WHISKEY IS BETTER THAN BLENDED – T or F?
It is more difficult to create a great single malt whiskey, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t create a sublime blended whiskey.
BOURBON HAS TO COME FROM KENTUCKY – T or F?
Bourbon does not have to be from Tennessee or Kentucky. It is about what it is made with and how it is made. Too long to explain here, but not here.
BEER BEFORE LIQUOR, YOU’LL NEVER GET SICKER – T or F?
Folks don’t get sick because of the order in which they imbibe their hooch. People get sick from over consumption. If you drink two beers, then two shots of tequila, a shot a Jaeger, a Long Island Iced tea and a Frangelico, you might as well be close to the hospital. The key is eating properly before drinking and hydrating throughout the process. Drink water while you drink booze and if you find yourself finding everything attractive, stop drinking.
BACK TO PAUL MARTIN
Paul works for St. George Spirits. I love St. George spirits and know that every spirit that they produce is of the highest quality possible and is going taste amazing. You can read more about St. George here. If you are ever in the Bay area, you have to visit the distillery, unless you are an alcoholic or a minor.
I wrote this post because Paul gave such a good tour that I walked away feeling like I had learned years of booze knowledge in a half hour. I find that when people do what they love, it shows and the excitement is contagious. He managed to crack us up and make us smarter at the same time. I think he needs a tv show.
Paul was born and raised in Oaktown, a.k.a Oakland, California and learned to drink cheap booze where most Americans do, college. In his case, he got a degree in Sociology from the University of Oregon. He dabbled in well-paid, yet unfulfilling jobs for a while and during a period of three years became a fan of St. George. He took friends and family members there all the time and became friends with the crew there. One day, while musing about looking for a job, they invited him to come join the team. They must have seen what my husband and I saw the day of the tour. In his words,”Three years later, I still can’t help but feel most people wake up and think “Oh god I have to go to work today.” I get to wake up and think “YES! I get to go to work today”.
I can’t wait to take friends to St. George. I am excited to see what the other tours are like. St. George seems to take meticulous care to do things in the best way possible, from making the artisanal spirits to hiring employees.
Click on the image below to visit the official Hangar One site and find more recipes!
Here are some pics from my adventures at St. George Spirits! Click here to go to learn more about tours on their site.