LA’s first craft distiller of organic spirits Greenbar Distillery was founded by husband and wife team, Meklon Khosrovian and Litty Matthew in 2004. The two met when they were students at USC. While Khosrovian’s family had a history of distilling spirits, neither could have imagined that they would make a living creating organic spirits.
The Origins of Greenbar
Family is at the root of Greenbar. The idea for the company came about when Khosrovian and Mathew got engaged and visited relatives to celebrate. Khosrovian explains, “There was a lot of eating and drinking at the same time. I come from the former Soviet Union, now the country of Armenia, where people don’t normally drink cocktails. We drink straight shots of fruit brandy or vodka. Someone stands up and says something flowery, and we all drink. Litty hated it. She thought it was too harsh and she wouldn’t drink it. I began to make spirits basically for her.” That turned out to be a sound move because, after nearly 20 years in business, the liqueurs are the signature products for Greenbar, particularly the Hibiscus Liqueur and Poppy Amaro.
The Move to Organic
Greenbar initially wasn’t an all-organic operation. Khosrovian and Mathew distilled their spirits with produce from a farmers’ market but noticed a lack of consistency in quality. An examination of the process narrowed the inconsistencies to a couple possibilities. That examination led them to realize, as Khosrovian notes, “The flavor was more plentiful in organically grown things. We changed to organic to make better tasting spirits.”
Keeping Up with Consumer Demand & Trends
Responding to changes in cocktail consumption, the distillery recently rolled out bottled ready-to-drink cocktails, with the goal of offering an authentic bar experience without requiring too much work at home. In addition to the traditional spirits like rum and gin, the company has moved into the ready-to drink cocktail market with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties. Alcoholic varieties of these bottled cocktails include: Smoky Vesper Martini, Negroni, and Single-Malt Old Fashioned. The negroni gets a Greenbar Distillery twist with the addition of their poppy liqueur.
The distillery also offers canned alcoholic ready-to-drink highball-style cocktails such as City Gin+ Tonic and Single-Malt Whiskey + Soda. The non-alcoholic versions use the traditional spirits as the base, but the alcohol is boiled off. The move to non-alcoholic beverages has been a good one as some of their best-selling products are UnGin + Tonic, UnSpritz, and Lavender Bitters + Soda.
Greenbar isn’t just committed to making organic spirits but also sustainability. One part of the sustainability effort is in the packaging. Khrosrovian notes, “We use lightweight glass, biodegradable labels. We avoid things like acid washing bottles.” The other part of the sustainability is planting trees. For every bottle of spirits, two bottles of bottled cocktails, or 24 ready-to-drink cocktails sold, Sustainable Harvest International plants a tree in a Central American rainforest to provide shade for fair-trade products.
This article originally appeared on Alcohol Professor and was syndicated by MediaFeed.
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