There has been a recent proliferation of California craft distillers either based in Napa or Sonoma wine country, or somehow tied to the wine industry. Examples of distillers in this category include Spirit Works, Lost Republic, Splinter Group Spirits, and Sonoma County Distilling. Another recent entry into this crowd is Alley 6 Distillery. Krystle and Jason Jorgensen founded Alley 6 Craft Distillery in Healdsburg, California, in 2012, making their distillery a dream come true. (There are just 6 alleys in Healdsburg and Krystle and Jason live off the 6th. They wanted a name that reflected the spirit of their small town without being readily apparent.) Alley 6 is a small, independent, family-owned business built by saving nickels and dimes, and a lot of sweat. As a grain to glass distillery, Alley 6 is focused on quality ingredients, a hands-on process, and creating spirits with unique flavor profiles. The Jorgensens first began to develop an interest in beer and winemaking after moving to Northern California. Jason started bartending at a steakhouse where some of the best whiskies in the world were sold, and soon fell head first into the craft-distilling arena. They began attending tastings and shows, touring local distilleries, and eventually going on a life-changing trip to Scotland. They knew this was their life’s passion and could be happy making whiskey every day. After many years of planning and practicing, the first batch of Alley 6 Rye Whiskey hit the shelves the summer of 2015. (Jason had to quit his job as a bartender in order to legally get a distillery license due to old prohibition laws.) The distillery produces premium spirits in small batches using traditional distilling techniques. Every part of the process is done right at the distillery in Healdsburg—from milling the grain, to mashing, fermenting, distilling, barreling, and bottling. Two direct fire 132-gallon Alembic Copper pot stills are used to create their complex spirits. The alembic is the oldest and most recognized still design. The alembic resembles a huge onion shape, which enables an easy release of the alcohol from the mixture. It is made up of 3 parts: the alembic pot, the swan neck lid and the condensing unit. The liquid in the pot is heated or boiled, the vapors rise and pass through the narrow ‘swan neck’ pipe and then through a serpentine coil, a cold-water bath condenses the vapors in the coils, converting them back to liquid form. Experimenting with every step in the process has helped to better understand the effects of subtle choices on the final product. The end results are spirits with deep complexity and unique characteristics. Alley 6 now produces 4 products: Gin, Rye, bitters, and a Single Malt (tasting room only).
Alley 6 Distillery’s Harvest Gin reflects the fertile Healdsburg vineyards around it. It’s a seasonal, limited-release, aromatic, grape-based gin made once a year at harvest time. The Viognier (white wine) pomace comes from neighboring Healdsburg wineries Comstock, Hawley, J. Rickards and Thumbprint, and is fermented and pressed at Alley 6 Distillery. The Gin is first distilled in direct-fire, traditional copper alembic pot stills in order to keep the wonderful aromas of the Viognier. Then, it is distilled one final time in a column where locally harvested California bay laurel, wild fennel, along with juniper berries and an array of delicious botanicals are vapor-infused in a botanicals basket to create this unique aromatic gin. The current offering is batch no. 2. The distillery makes 1 batch per year of approximately 1800 bottles per batch.
(the Yellow Chartreuse amplifies the gin’s delicious fennel notes)
11⁄2 oz. gin
1⁄2 oz. yellow Chartreuse
1 dash orange bitters (optional)
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir well for 20 seconds and strain into chilled cocktail glass
11⁄2 oz. gin
3⁄4 oz. Campari
3⁄4 oz. fresh lemon juice
1⁄2 oz simple syrup
1 egg white
1 dash orange bitters
1 small orange wedge, to garnish
In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, Campari, lemon juice, simple syrup, bitters, and egg white, and shake until combined. Fill the shaker three-quarters full with ice and shake vigorously until the egg white is incorporated and frothy, about 30 seconds.
Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the orange wedge
For the honey syrup:
1 cup honey
1⁄3 cup hot water
For the cocktail:
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
3⁄4 oz. honey syrup
2 oz. gin
Make the honey syrup: In a container, combine honey and hot water and stir until completely mixed. Use immediately or store and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
In a shaker, combine fresh lemon juice, honey syrup, gin, and ice.
Shake vigorously and strain into a coupe glass.
1 oz. gin
1 oz. Aperol
1 oz. fresh blood orange juice
Splash of prosecco
Blood orange wheel and rose-scented geranium for garnish (optional)
In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, Aperol, and blood orange juice over ice. Shake vigorously for 5 seconds to combine ingredients then strain into a coupe glass. Top with chilled prosecco and garnish with a blood orange wheel and a sprig of rose-scented geranium, if you’ve got one handy.