For founder and head distiller Nicholas Hammond, Pacific Coast Spirits is much more than just a distillery and restaurant, it’s an adventure. The Oceanside business is dubbed California’s first farm-to-table restaurant and grain-to-glass distillery under one roof, and each spirit they create is an adventure in itself.
The adventure begins with sourcing non-GMO and organic ingredients from local farmers. All of their small batch spirits are made from scratch, and the water and spent grains are repurposed. Sustainability is important to Californians, and that value is reflected in Hammond’s business.
Hammond runs his distillery under the “grain-to-glass” concept. The majority of his ingredients are grown right here in California.
“It’s like farm-to-table where your food comes directly from the farm,” Hammond said. “We take raw ingredients, we know the farmers we buy corn from and we know the guys who are raising our grain.”
After using the grain to make product, the grain goes back to local farmers to feed cattle and pigs instead of the trash. Hammond, an engineer by training, also designed his own system to trap and recycle water from the production process.
Pacific Coast Spirits also operates as a restaurant and bar, where the team intersects “California comfort food” with unique artisan cocktails using his aged spirits as their base. The whiskey butterscotch pudding on their dessert menu is one example of the synergy of cuisine and beverage that keeps customers coming back for more.
As a North County resident, Hammond is cultivating Pacific Coast Spirits in to a fundamental part of the North County community. He’s created a family friendly meeting place where locals and visitors alike can join in on the adventure. As they put it best, Pacific Coast Spirits is the ultimate destination for seekers of true local craft.
Stacks of barrels with aging spirits line the windows of the distillery facing Coast Highway, where warm sunlight directly hits the barrels and speeds up the aging process for the spirits. In Southern California’s warm, arid climate, spirits age considerably faster than those made in places like Scotland, where it’s much cooler and humid.
If the barrels don’t immediately catch the eye, the huge, fenced-in outdoor patio will.
After COVID-19 restrictions sent restaurants outdoors, Pacific Coast Spirits converted more than half of its parking lot to accommodate outdoor seating for guests. The huge, outdoor seating area complements the distillery’s bright, modern aesthetics through its use of lightly colored wood, greenery and open atmosphere.
With a passion for beverage making since college, Nicholas grew up and worked in Napa Valley as a wine maker but had a particular interest in making spirits. He traveled several times to places like Mexico and Chile to learn about spirits like tequila and Chilean brandy.
Now, Hammond is channeling everything he learned in to his unique brand of high-quality spirits. “Craft spirit distilling is a somewhat younger business compared to its sister industry, craft beer brewing, which boomed in recent years,” Hammond said, “the craft spirit business is about where craft brewing was 10 years ago. Early distillers really paved the way to change legislation that enabled us to get where we are now,” Hammond went on to explain.
The driving mission of Pacific Coast Spirits is to educate and bring greater awareness about the craft distillery industry and build on San Diego’s reputation as a hub for craft beverage making.