Drinking in California – Pt. 1

Verve Coffee Roasters, Greenbar Craft Distillery, and Everything in Between

Labor Day Weekend 2015

I went out to Orange County California to visit a friend of mine that I met back when she lived out in East Texas. Four days of no work, all play, and California sunshine. Getting into Orange County the night before, this was my first full day in California and we were headed to the Los Angeles area for the day. My friend ended up having to work that day but she took me into the city with her to the USC campus. After grabbing Starbucks, she headed to work and I called an Uber to take me out to West Hollywood where I had a great uncle that I would be spending the day with.

Uber Excited!

This was my very first time in an Uber! Instead of hopping in the back like you would a cab, I climbed in shot gun and excitedly started a conversation with the driver. I couldn’t have asked for a better first time Uber experience. He didn’t mind that I babbled on and we talked about celebrity encounters different sites in the area right up until he dropped me off at my uncle’s apartment complex.

My uncle met me in the lobby and then took me up to his place to show me his view of the Hollywood Hills and I got to meet his dog, Famous. When I was planning my trip and we were trying to figure out how to spend the day, he had asked me what I liked and what I wanted to see and do. I only had three primary things in mind: coffee shops, breweries, and distilleries. Naturally, our first stop of the day was going to be a coffee shop.

The First Brew is Coffee

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We set out to Verve Coffee Roasters, a coffee shop just a little ways down the street that my uncle said had just opened about two weeks ago. It had other locations in Los Angeles and Santa Cruz and was already known to be superb place for getting a quality coffee, so I was excited to try it. Since I am not a coffee aficionado by any means, I asked the barista what he recommended. Everything he suggested sounded amazing, but I finally choose to order the One in One. This is basically “a split shot that appears in twin demitasse cups, with a single-shot espresso balancing a single-shot macchiato on a plate, typically with one cup balancing the other on the edge.” [http://foodgps.com/verve-coffee-roasters-one-one/] It was amazing! I am just now reaching a point where I’m coming to appreciate straight shots of espresso and black coffee, and it helps when the coffee is of magnificent quality. This was the perfect way to start the day.

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Picture Perfect Moments

From here, we took a taxi to Beverly Hills to take pictures by the signature sign and then we moved along to stroll down Rodeo Drive, snapping pictures and gawking in awe at all the high end boutiques and luxury shops. My uncle was making sure I got the full California experience for the brief time I was there. We took an Uber out to Santa Monica Pier and I put my feet in the Pacific Ocean for the first time taking a picture barefoot on the beach. Then my uncle said he knew the perfect spot to have lunch before continuing back into Los Angeles.

A Little Piece of Home

The place was called Home State and it is one of the few places that you can get breakfast tacos and queso in California because the “home state” it is referring to is TEXAS. Apparently, some sisters of another uncle of mine owned the place, originally growing up in Texas and bringing Texas cooking and coffee to the Los Angeles area. I felt right at home even though I was hundreds of miles away and they even had coffee from Austin, TX. We both had a couple of tacos and then it was time to head to the next location.

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Liquor Before Beer

Sadly, none of the breweries in Los Angeles opened until about 4 or 5 pm and I was scheduled to head back to Orange County with my friend to TRY and beat traffic (or at least the worst traffic) around 3 pm, BUT there was a distillery that I found that opened at 1 pm.

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Greenbar Craft Distillery is located in a shady looking area in Los Angeles just north of Interstate 10 and west of the Los Angeles River. Our Uber driver was not quite sure where to drop us off, but fortunately I’m very GPS savvy and was able to find it. It was a small place in the midst of industrial buildings and you wouldn’t know it was there unless you were looking for it. Inside it was very minimalistic, but pleasant with a very natural vibe. We arrived right around opening time, so we were the first people there. After being greeted by a nice, young lady we were brought upstairs for the tasting.

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The array of liquors they had on display was impressive for being such a small establishment, and I found out that Greenbar Craft Distillery “represents the world’s largest portfolio of organic, handcrafted spirits, including BAR KEEP organic bitters, CRUSOE organic rums, FRUITLAB organic liqueurs, IXÁ organic tequila, SLOW HAND organic whiskey, TRU organic gin and TRU organic vodkas.” My uncle and I took our seats at the tasting table and the girl began to tell us about each one and the history of the distillery. It was absolutely fascinating! I was extremely impressed with the quality of each spirit I tried and even more impressed to learn the lengths that this distillery went to being environmentally conscious; “…the company uses lightweight bottles, 100% recycled labels and plants a tree for every bottle sold.” [http://www.greenbar.biz/how-we-started]. My uncle ended up buying a bottle of the IXÁ organic tequila and then it was time for me to head back to USC.

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Overall, the day was full of amazing food and drinks, even if I didn’t get to experience a brewery while in Los Angeles, and more awaited me the next day as I planned to venture to Newport Beach.

Cheers!

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