San Franciscans know good food, and good drinks. Of course the Bay Area is known for great wine in Napa and Sonoma, but it's also home to dozens of wineries and distilleries creating craft beers and small-batch spirits that showcase the unique flavors of northern California. If you're looking to incorporate a bit of the Bay Area into your reception bar, check out these local beers and spirits.
St. George Spirits has been in operation for more 30 years and has been in its current location in Alameda for more than a decade. One of the best known Bay Area brands, they produce an herbaceous Terroir Gin (one of four different gins), single malt American whiskey, rum, absinthe, chicory-infused coffee liqueur and several fruit brandies. Bonus: they offer tours and tastings five days a week so you can try before you buy.
This Mission Bay distillery has been producing craft gin at Pier 50 for more than a decade, but the brand's history is much longer. The name No. 209 comes from the original property in Napa that was the site of the 209th distillery founded in the US (way back in 1882). The distillery is best known for its citrusy, slightly sweeter gin made with South Asian spices like cardamom, but it also makes a line of kosher gin and vodka, and a gin aged in sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon barrels.
The Anchor Brewing Company has been around since the California Gold Rush, and when Fritz Maytag (yes, that Maytag) bought the company in 1965, it became the first craft beer in the US. Today the brewery still operates in Potrero Hill, making more than a dozen beer varieties, including the classic Anchor Steam, IPA, Porter, and Winter Wheat. The distilling operation is equally prolific. Anchor Distilling Company distills a wide array of spirits — in addition to importing calvados, cognac, gin, mezcal, pisco, rum, tequila, gin, vodka and whiskey.
Sebastopol's Spirit Works Distillery employs a "grain-to-glass" process that means every aspect of production is done with local ingredients, so you can truly say you're serving a "made in California" drink. Spirits produced include gin, sloe gin, vodka, whiskey, and barrel-aged gin and whiskey.
The first post-Prohibition distillery to open in Sonoma County, Hello Cello, started out making Limoncello, a perfect apertif or a mixer for a light, refreshing reception cocktail. Through sister label Prohibition Spirits, they also make Figcello and OrangeCello and, for something a little stronger, brandy, rum, bourbon, and whiskey.
Named for the constitutional amendment that repealed Prohibition, 21st Amendment has been making craft beer since 2000. Year-round brews include Back in Black IPA and Brew Free or Die and there's a host of rotating seasonal beers. Serve Fireside Chat winter spiced ale for a fall or winter wedding or a crisp and refreshing Hell or High Watermelon wheat beer in summer.