There’s a secret place amid the sparse, industrial landscape in LA's Arts District where blue barrels of clementine juice sit waiting to be distilled into craft gins, brandies and liqueurs.
The large wooden doors of this place look as if they were carved by hand using some ancient technique, and on either side sit stained glass windows. Above the doors, in an whimsical script “The Spirit Guild” is painted. The style is hard to place, but the Spirit Guild seems as much a new age mystical healing center as a craft distillery.
Inside, the diffused orange light coming through the windows illuminate a bespectacled man in a colorful knit sweater behind a handsome bar. Miller Duvall’s long gray hair and calm welcome give him a sort of professorial demeanor. Together with Head Distiller Morgan Lachlan, he’s combining six generations of his family's local California farming know-how into some of the most complex and thoughtful liqueurs in the country.
Anxious to dip our beaks into one of Los Angeles’ newest craft distilleries, we decided to take a liqueur run and talk booze with the professor himself.
Q: What was the inspiration for The Spirit Guild?
A: My family’s farm in Bakersfield. We wanted to know why all the delicious flavors and scents of our clementine orchards weren’t being represented at the bar.
Q: Why did you choose to build The Spirit Guild in the Arts District of LA?
A: We love downtown Los Angeles and we love the walking and biking culture of the Arts District.
Q: What makes the Spirit Guild's gins, brandies, and liqueurs unique?
A: They're made from California fruit and fruit juice, and we do all the fermentation of our products ourselves, in-house: no short cuts!
Q: What makes a good gin?
A: A good gin should be complex, with a nice separation of flavors, and have a long finish. I prefer my gins to be juniper-forward.
Q: What's your go-to drink order?
A: An Astral Pacific Gin old-fashioned.
You can learn more about the Spirit Guild on their website or at their distillery in Los Angeles.
Photography by Brian Valdizno.