After graduating from the University of San Diego with a degree in International Business and Economics, 25-year-old craft spirits whiz Laura Johnson co-founded You & Yours Distilling Co., which officially opened earlier this year in Makers Quarter, an up-and-coming neighbourhood in San Diego’s East Village.

“There’s nothing like our concept here in San Diego,” Johnson says. “A full-production distillery in an urban neighbourhood where you can take a traditional tour with a flight, or also enjoy our spirits in a creative cocktail.”

There’s already buzz around the distillery’s flagship Sunday Gin and Y&Y Vodka, and part of that has to do with Johnson’s keen palate and her passion for distillation.The Texas native discovered the world of craft spirits in her late teens, when her dad took her to the original Havana Club Distillery in Cuba. “I have a photo taken after the tour and the smile on my face is pure joy,” she says. “Learning about the craft and the history of the Havana Club brand was intoxicating.”

Later, during a West Coast road trip—with a few distillery stops along the way—her creativity piqued. Fascinated by the many ways in which you can put your own spin on a distilled spirit throughout the production process, she realized it was something worth pursuing.

Q: What excites you most about craft distillation?

“The liberty a distiller can take with the botanical makeup, the list of botanicals used in any given gin and experimenting with different flavour profiles. That’s what I love.”

Q: Describe You & Yours Sunday Gin.

“It’s citrus-forward; there’s a lot of grapefruit and Valencia orange. I use kaffir lime leaf, and then you get the juniper. It has a nice floral finish—rose hip, elderflower, a little raspberry leaf, coriander and mint.”

Q: What’s the vibe like at You & Yours?

“It’s a balance between an industrial tasting-room vibe and a beautiful, enjoyable and very comfortable space.”

Q: So it’s a place to hang out with friends?

“That’s exactly what I had in mind when I was picking out every piece of furniture.

Q: What’s the must-drink cocktail there?

“The Distiller’s Gin and Tonic. Sunday Gin with a little grapefruit tonic water to bring out the citrusy notes. It’s garnished with everything that’s distilled in the gin, so it’s a very culinary, interactive experience.”

Q: What’s coming down the pipe?

I’m working on an aperitivo—a Campari-style bitter spirit. I’m also about to start working on an Old Tom gin, and a food concept is definitely in our sights.

Laura’s Favourite Spots for Cocktails 

Carnitas’ Snack Shack on the Embarcadero

“It has an incredible view. And they make an amazing [off-menu] Old Tom Gimlet.”

Campfire in Carlsbad

“There’s a cocktail called the Aloe Black, with tequila, aloe vera and violette that ends up being a pretty shade of teal. It’s so gorgeous, but also really well-balanced.”

The Pony Room at the Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in Rancho Santa Fe

“The bar manager is great and always makes me something different—I rarely order from the menu.”