14 San Francisco Bay Area Distilleries to Try Today

Enjoy an array of delicious and distinctive California spirits at these Bay Area distilleries.

Griffo Distillery
Photo by Michael Woolsey, courtesy of Griffo Distillery

Living in California, especially the Bay Area, means easy access to all the wine and rolling hills of vineyards. But for those of us who like our wine barrels filled with spirits, there are some alternatives to enjoy. Whether you’re hosting a party or want an intimate gathering to enjoy a local spirit, Bay Area distilleries use California-grown ingredients to make great whiskeys, gins, rums, brandies, and vodkas good for gifting to friends or saving to sip for yourself. So, if you’re searching for spirits in wine country, here’s a list of distilleries in the San Francisco Bay Area you can visit in person and a few that, although you cannot stop in for a drink at, are worth ordering from.

Alley 6 Craft Distillery
Photo courtesy of Alley 6 Craft Distillery

The location of this grain-to-glass distillery started 30 years ago under the name Anchor Distilling Company. Krystle and Jason Jorgensen founded Alley 6 in 2012. Nestled in Sonoma county, the distillery is a change of pace that offers an alternative to wine. Open Thursday through Sunday, take a weekend drive to tour the distillery and enjoy a tasting of gold-colored Harvest Barrel Aged Gin or maybe the Spiced Peach Liqueur for $15 per tasting.

Visit the website to learn more.

Dissident Spirits Co.
Photo by Nora Fleming, courtesy of Dissident Spirits Co.

New to the spirits world, this company opened for distribution in 2022 and has been making some bold moves beginning with its partnership with women-owned Kavier Coffee to create coffee liqueur. Located in Richmond, CA, it’s open on Thursday for bottle sales only from 1 to 5 pm. But on Friday from 3 to 8 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 6 pm, you can stop in, stay a while, and maybe catch a free tasting.

Visit Instagram to learn more. 

Griffo Distillery
Photo by Michael Woolsey, courtesy of Griffo Distillery

After “five years of penny-pinching,” Griffo opened its doors in April 2015. Visitors to this distillery can sit among the barrels while enjoying craft cocktails made from craft spirits. Visitors can choose from chocolate and spirit tasting or a distillery tour for an educational day out. Coffee lovers can take home a treat when they pick up the Thai Iced Coffee Cocktail Kit, which includes Griffo Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur, Runamok Ginger Mule Syrup, and more. For adventure seekers, look out for the limited-run Sir Lord Francis Grappa or Persimmon Vodka.

Visit Instagram to learn more or email info@GriffoDistillery.com.

Jettywave Distillery
Photo by Regan Daniels, courtesy of Jettywave Distillery

Using botanicals from California, this women-owned microdistillery is located in Half Moon Bay. Distilling in both copper and metal stills, Jettywave Moonshine uses organic ingredients, some reclaimed redwood fermenters, and a “fog fermentation” process, which is a craft brewing technique to expose the grains to the environment, or the fog, before sealing in the flavor. While bottles are available for shipping, the best gift you can give yourself from Jettywave is taking a ride along the coast and enjoying the spirits at the microdistillery’s eco-friendly bar and restaurant.

Visit Instagram to learn more. 

This distillery is one of Sonoma's first craft distilleries, hence the current name. Founded in 2008 as Hello Cello, the distillery pioneered in the middle of wine country, striking new ground with limoncello. After rebranding to Prohibition Spirits, the spirit maker has an expansive menu of gins, liqueurs, brandies, amaros, whiskey, and rum to choose from. Distillery visitors can enjoy an Absinthe Experience with real wormwood and wild fennel; book the “Trav-L-Bar,” a traveling bar service; or enjoy flight tastings of six spirits, including limoncello, gin, and brandy.

Visit ​Instagram and Facebook to learn more or email info@hellosonoma.com.

Savage & Cooke Distillery & Tasting Room
Photo by Margaret Pattillo, courtesy of Savage & Cooke Distillery

In 2018 Napa Valley winemaker Dave Phinney opened this distillery in an easily accessible spot for people from Napa Valley and San Francisco. It’s known for collaborating with basketball legend Scottie Pippen to create DIGITS, a five-year aged bourbon whiskey, and for Bad Sweater, a holiday-themed bourbon wrapped in a holiday sweater. Visitors can make the Bay Area drive to taste Guerro, the aged 17-year-old whiskey, and then stay for Blanchard’s fried chicken in the Savage & Cook restaurant.

Visit Instagram to learn more. 

Spirit Works Distillery
Photo courtesy of Spirit Works Distillery

Founded in 2012, the woman-led distilling team has been voted Best Craft Distillery and Tasting Room in Sonoma County in 2020. Known for using California-grown organic Red Winter Wheat to create grain-to-glass California whiskeys, sloe gins, and vodka, the distillery also offers craft distilling services for up-and-coming distilleries who need space to create. On-site spirits tastings ranging from Four Grain Whiskey, with notes of chicory, brown butter, and treacle, to gold-colored Barrel Gin, require a $10.00 deposit to reserve a spot during Wednesday through Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm. The non-refundable deposit is applied to the tasting fee.

Call 707-634-4793 to reserve your spot. 

Treecraft Distillery

Treasure Island

One would not expect to find a grain-to-glass small batch distillery on Treasure Island, an island part of San Francisco county historically known as a naval base in an old navel firehouse. Founded in 2015, Treecraft is an LGTBQ+ distillery known for its sweeping view of San Francisco. The distillery carries unique blends of spirits like the 40% ABV Chocolate Bourbon that sneaks in a hint of banana and the curious Lavender Hibiscus Gin. Both spirits are made in small batches right there on the small island. Open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 5 pm; no reservation is required to swing by.

Visit Instagram to learn more. 

Wright & Brown Distilling Co.
Photo by Melati Citrawireja, courtesy of Wright & Brown Distilling Co.

The Oakland distillery survived its start-up years crafting in small 10-gallon casks and then spent the beginning of the pandemic crafting sanitizers. All the hard work and community service combined with using local ingredients made for award-winning California whiskey. With caramel and chocolate notes, the limited edition Bottled in Bond American Single Malt whiskey is a 50% ABV California whiskey with a smoky finish. The bottle shop is open from 1 to 5 pm on Tuesday and 1 to 6 pm Wednesday through Saturday. 

Visit Instagram to learn more.

Half Moon Bay Distillery - Vodka Tasting
Photo courtesy of Half Moon Bay Distillery

The small woman-owned craft distillery focuses its handcrafting on gin and vodka. While closed to public tastings, the distillery does host private events from time to time. You can place an order for pick-up for a handcrafted cocktail in a mason jar or a bottle of Lavender Vodka on the website and Instagram. For more information about booking, email info@hmbdistillery.com

Available to Buy Online
While you can only do private tastings at this distillery, its spirits are worth the order.

Common Ground Spirits
Photo courtesy of Common Ground Spirits

Located in Berkeley and founded in 2020, Common Ground, a Black-owned spirits company, uses California-grown botanicals distilled in Livermore, CA to create two savory, 90-proof gins. The Black Currant & Thyme gin carries notes of Meyer lemon with a peppery finish. Meanwhile, the Basil & Elderflower gin was inspired by the Flo & Basy, a cocktail from Coppinger Row in Dublin, Ireland, and touts a fruity and floral finish. The unique blend of gins are just the beginning for Common Ground, as the distillery anticipates its first whiskey blend to age by 2024.

Available to Buy Online
While you can’t do on-site tastings at this distillery, its spirits are worth the order.

Gold Bar Whiskey
Photo courtesy of Gold Bar Whiskey

Gold Bar Whiskey

San Francisco

Sometimes you need a whiskey in a pretty bottle. It also helps when the whiskey is the official spirit of the 49ers. Gold Bar Whiskey distillery on Treasure Island ages its whiskey in Napa wine barrels. Each 750ML features a “Lady of Fortune” brass coin embedded on the front making the bottle a work of art. There’s also the black-label brand for the whiskey lover who doesn’t need the gold to show off its shine. This packaging makes the gift a favorite for whiskey lovers and aesthetic enthusiasts alike. Plans are in the works to open a tasting room, but in the meantime, enjoy these spirits at Mersea on Treasure Island during the golden hour of a Bay Area sunset.

Available to Buy Online
While you can’t do on-site tastings at this distillery, its spirits are worth the order.

Redwood Empire Whiskey
Photo courtesy of Redwood Empire Whiskey

Here’s a spirit with the spirit of giving. This award-winning whiskey distillery is named after redwood trees and partners with Trees for the Future, which plants a tree for every bottle of whiskey sold. A favorite is Pipe Dream, a golden-hued California whiskey with notes of roasted pecan and vanilla, named after the Humboldt county pipe dream tree, one of the fastest-growing trees in the US. For more information, visit Instagram.

Available to Buy Online
While you can’t do on-site tastings at this distillery, its spirits are worth the order.

St. George Spirits
Photo by Alex Zyuzikov, courtesy of St. George Spirits

The middle-aged Alameda-based distillery celebrated its 40th anniversary by creating a unique limited edition whiskey. Only 1982 bottles were sold in honor of the year it opened in Emeryville, CA. The maker has created stellar spirits, including Baller Single Malt Whiskey, a Japanese-style whiskey made initially for Oakland’s Ramen Shop. Try St. George Absinthe Verte or any of the delicious brandies, vodkas, and gins.

Available to Buy Online
While you can’t do on-site tastings at this distillery, its spirits are worth the order.

Brandy Collins is a contributor for Thrillist.