San Diego’s First Urban Distillery and Tasting Room Set to Open in April
“Because everyone needs a little uncomplicated sophistication in their lives.” – Anonymous
I had a chance to sit down with Founder and President of 619 Vodka, Nick Apostolopoulos, to hear what he had to say about a new distillery and tasting room opening in North Park! As you may know, 619 is San Diego’s area code, and when I found out about this genius branding, I knew everyone in San Diego would want to know more, so I found it fitting to interview him. Nick and I talked a lot about his flavor-infused vodkas, and I really got the inside story on where these infused ingredients come from.
What is 619 Vodka All About?
Nick and his company love to create vodka infused with real ingredients from around San Diego. They make their spicy vodka with peppers from Fallbrook, and their coffee flavored vodka from coffee that is roasted by Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. Watch the full video interview to get the inside scoop on what’s coming:
Nick launched his company 619 Vodka in 2012, and immediately began creating a non-infused vodka. Over time, and after a lot of struggle with the FDA, he got approval for his infusions, and started creating the vodka that you see in stores all around San Diego today. Nick wanted his company to use fresh ingredients which were the most difficult to pass. He explains that if he had used a chemical flavoring, it would have been much easier to pass. Fresh ingredients require explanations of how the food is growing, what ingredients are in the food and food safety information. As Nick states in the interview that’s hard to figure out for each real, growing cucumber that goes into a vodka infusion. The FDA has been one of Nick’s biggest challenges, which is part of the reason he is so passionate about his final products.
Any Future Plans for 619 Vodka?
Nick would love to expand the brand over time to include other flavors that are most seasonally focused, such as watermelon mint basil or white strawberry (from white strawberries in Temecula, that apparently taste much like a pineapple!) Chinos Farms in Fairbanks Ranch, a few years ago grew a batch of orange watermelons and 619 Vodka would love to do a batch of orange watermelon infused vodka. If that happens, it will be awesome, unique and fresh. Like any other farming crop though, there is a risk of running out of tasty product to sell. If the crop comes back the next year, it comes back, and if not, the infused alcohol is limited and therefore always changing. Although the infusions keep Nick very busy, the thought of a tasting room and restaurant has always inspired him, and now it is becoming a reality, which is the most exciting announcement from 619 Vodka to date!
Is This Distillery Legal?
Local distilleries have new laws allowing more relaxed sales of alcohol and allowing distilleries to serve alcohol on site. Nick thought the laws would take a few more years, but he is excited that they are already in effect, and thrilled to be opening the first tasting room and restaurant in San Diego county. This 619 Vodka tasting room will also include every other local spirit that is made in southern California. San Diegans who love local spirits will appreciate this tasting room, and even though there are 9 local breweries around this new location, 619 Vodka’s tasting room and restaurant will also serve a menu of local craft beer. The food menu will be California cuisine, with dishes that will match the vodka. Peppers from the scorpion pepper vodka will be involved in some plates for an added spice, and maybe rose petals in a dessert. They don’t have the menu set in stone yet, but they are excited to showcase fun creative dishes.
What Flavors of Infused Vodka Can I Purchase Right Now?
The vodkas they currently have for sale are:
Scorpion Pepper Infused Vodka: 8x hotter than a habanero pepper. Great for those who love Bloody Marys, but also good in fruit drinks, or nutella/chocolate combinations, or with mescal, to create a smoky flavor.
Coffee Infused Vodka: Made with coffee from Bird Rock Coffee Roasters
Cucumber Infused Vodka: Great for mixed cocktails or over ice.
Rose Petal Infused Vodka: Very unique, you either love it or don’t love it. Great for a flowery lemonade.
Where Can I Buy 619 Vodka?
Nick likes to say, “Everywhere except the big places.” You can find 619 Vodka in smaller restaurants, but not the bigger chains because they usually do not carry too many local alcohol brands. 619 Vodka is also in the smaller (not big brand name) liquor stores.
What is the Ultimate Goal for 619 Vodka, and How Can I Help?
The ultimate goal for 619 Vodka is the getting the restaurant in North Park off to a good start, where they’ll be able to play with the infusions, where they can serve the cocktails and make small batches of different flavors to see what the public will like. They also plan to do collaborations with other companies in the neighborhood. Support local craft, and you’re not going to get any more fresh ingredients than this vodka. Other vodkas are using flavorings and colorings to say their products are infused. 619 makes something you could honestly make at home, but with their large batches they have a more consistent recipe.
You can help bring 619 Distillery and Tasting Room to life! Check out the Indiegogo campaign that Nick created to help raise the funds needed to bring this concept to life! Consider supporting to gain access to the private launch party, gift cards, your name on their “Wall of Thanks” and other perks!