California is known the world-over for many things: sunshine, surfing, and Silicon Valley. One thing it isn’t yet renowned for is its vodka, though we think that’s high time that fact changed. California has all the elements required to make world class spirits: abundance water (mountain, river, and as you’ll see, even fog), an agricultural industry producing all manner of distillable ingredients, and no shortage of imaginative individuals looking to shake things up.
Here are some of our favorite vodkas hailing from the Golden State.
1. Charbay Vodka: Crafted from Midwest grains, Charbay has been a player in the California vodka scene for almost 20 years, making them a veritable veteran in this otherwise youthful field. Winning ‘World’s Best’ titles not once, but twice, their vodka stands apart primarily because that eschew traditional charcoal filtration, presenting a vodka that’s surprisingly deep in flavor and mouthfeel.
2. Corbin Vodka: Crafted from 100% estate-grown sweet potatoes, Corbin vodka is standout in the vodka scene primarily because of it’s ethereal sweetness. Where a traditional potato vodka is closely associated with a bread-y flavor, the use of sweet potatoes gives this sip an indulgent buttery mouthfeel that’s perfect for straight sipping.
3. Hanson of Sonoma: Sonoma is best known for its world-class wines, so it’s no surprise that this vodka actually begins its life as a wine. That’s right, they take organic wine grapes, turn them into wine, and then distill the wine to produce this incredibly unique vodka. It’s complex and balanced on the nose and palate with a silky smooth mouth feel that gives way to a lasting, satisfying finish.
4. Ventura Spirits California Vodka: California Vodka is the only vodka in the world made from strawberries (Ventura is known as the strawberry capital of the world, after all). This is not a flavored vodka – it is a neutral spirit that is actually distilled from strawberry wine. The locally grown fruit is fermented, distilled and bottled by hand at their craft distillery on California’s central coast.
5. RE:find Vodka: Re:Find Vodka is crafted from premium California wine-grapes that are grown, fermented, distilled, and bottled unfiltered in Paso Robles’ wine country. The result is a vodka that’s crisp, clean, and exceptionally drinkable straight, or in a cocktail.
6. Hangar One “Fog Vodka”: One of the most exclusive and unique vodkas we’ve ever featured here on the Mule Blog, Hangar One’s “Fog Point” vodka is distilled using water captured from the famously thick fogs of San Francisco Bay. Using their traditional spirit base, distilled from the finest central coast grapes, the team at Hangar one decided to really showcase the importance of sourcing the best water when it came time to cut their spirit. Using fog-catchers, they painstakingly captured the purest water right out of the air and used it to blend a truly amazing vodka.
7. Loft & Bear: The heart of Downtown Los Angeles might not be the first place you envision when you think of a craft-made vodka, but Loft and Bear is just that. Using soft winter wheat and 100% pure Sierra Nevada mountain spring water, this distillery produces a vodka that’s exceptional in its clarity and smoothness.
8. Our/LosAngeles Vodka: Our/Los Angeles is partly-distilled, blended and hand-bottled in the micro-distillery according to the same global recipe, but with the use of different, locally-sourced ingredients, giving each vodka its own, unique flavor profile. The small-sized, simple bottle is sealed with a crown-cap containing a vodka that is smooth, fresh and pure with a slight grain and fruity note.
9. 619 Vodka: An exceptionally clear and clean vodka, 619 is fast making a name for itself as the choice vodka among aficionados in San Diego and beyond. Distilled in the heart of the North Park neighborhood using locally sourced ingredients, the spirit is charcoal filtered until its perfectly balanced and smooth.
10. Cutwater Spirits FUGU Vodka: An offshoot of the famed Ballast Point Brewery, Cutwater Spirits brings the same attention to detail and flavor to the world of spirits. With light floral notes and a subtle spiciness, this vodka is perfect for tasting, or as an addition to your next cocktail.