Let’s play a word association game. When I say “peanut butter,” what comes to mind? Rapid fire — cups, cookies, jelly! Whiskey wouldn’t have been on my list, but Skrewball Whiskey out of San Diego might change that. Their unique brand of whiskey has grown from local cult favorite found in a few bars and restaurants to being available coast-to-coast.
Bars and restaurants are our gathering places. You would be hard-pressed to find the assorted group found within the walls of your favorite watering hole hanging out together anywhere else. According to co-founder Brittany Merrill Yeng, the group of employees and customers hanging out enjoying the peanut butter whiskey cocktails her husband Steven had been making at his own establishments were as motley and misfit as they come, which inspired the Skrewball name. According to Brittany, we may all be black sheep or misfits in our own way, but as for Skrewball Whiskey, “It’s for everybody. This is an inclusive brand.”
Skrewball first caught my attention earlier this year when someone shared a social media post with me. Skrewball was offering to donate $1 for every share to help bartenders and restaurant workers impacted by COVID-19. Having been part of the industry for a long time, the team at Skrewball was inspired to help.
“We created this [brand] wanting to create this community, and here all the places that we gather around the country are getting closed down, and most people don’t realize it, but restaurants work on really small margins. When they have to shut down and throw away their food, they can’t pay their employees,” said Brittany. “We initially just said, ‘We don’t have money, but we’re still running. Let’s empty out our bank account and do whatever we can to raise awareness.
“We did a Skrew COVID-19 program where we just said we would donate a dollar for every share [on social media] … We got 250,000 shares on that! We donated all of that to the US Bartenders Guild, and we also donated to Core, which helps restaurant workers and their families.”
Those charitable efforts continued through the summer with the Skrew It Forward campaign where they asked their brand ambassadors to come up with ways to help support communities everywhere, not just by writing checks, but by donating their time, by being really aware of their impact with the hope that they could be “a beacon of light” in what has been a very trying year.
“It’s just a lot of small acts of kindness to … make people smile in the middle of all of this,” said Brittany. Some of their team members hit the road looking for opportunities to pitch in by filling backpacks in San Diego, bringing food to those in need in Arizona, helping build a basketball court for at-risk youth in Arizona and much more.
All that, plus the whiskey is pretty good. I’ve tried it in a cocktail and blended in with ice cream, but you can also follow the lead of my nearly 70-year-old dad who off-handedly mentioned they were doing shots of it at his friend’s 50th wedding anniversary party. It’s a truly a drink for everyone.
Be sure to check out the upcoming episode of the Cheers! North County podcast featuring my full conversation with Brittany Merrill Yeng of Skrewball Whiskey, which comes out Friday, Sept. 25. Check out the show’s homepage to listen or find links to all of your favorite podcast platforms.