With Yes Artisan Beverages, there’ll be no more boring cocktails at home.
Founded in October by Cayucos residents Brandon Alpert and Lauren Butler, the line of handcrafted, seasonal mixers is a perfect complement to San Luis Obispo County’s burgeoning distillery scene. (You can discover some of those products from the Paso Robles Distillery Trail at the Fire & Ice event, Feb. 27 in Paso Robles.)
“We’re certainly not trying to compete with bars and bartenders,” Alpert said. “The goal of this is to let people create a luxury cocktail experience at home without all the fuss.”
Alpert and Butler started by selling their fresh-squeezed, flavored Yes Lemonades at local farmers markets. When customers mentioned how good the juices would taste in cocktails, the recently engaged couple took the cue and ran with it.
Prior to their lemonade business, Alpert and Butler spent two years as actors and directors with the Missoula Children’s Theatre in Montana, touring the United States and abroad. As lovers of good food and drink, they wanted to bring the flavors of their travels back home, but hit a wall when it came to cocktails.
“The store-bought syrups weren’t very good and had corn syrup, artificial flavors and preservatives,” Butler said.
Alpert and Butler realized they could change the script and create mixers that tasted good and were made with quality products, most of them locally sourced. They broadened their business name to Yes Artisan Beverages, and started developing new recipes.
“Our first flavor was the citrus-based Lavender Honey,” Butler recalled. From there, the list has grown by leaps and bounds depending on the season, the couple’s creativity and customer feedback.
“There will always be about seven to eight flavors available at any given time of year,” Alpert said.
Among the staples are the lime and ginger-flavored Moscow Mule, the Old Fashioned with candied orange peel and Saigon cinnamon, and the savory and spicy Sriracha Margarita. The latter is the company’s best seller.
Seasonal flavors have included Ginger Peach, Blueberry Basil and Rhubarb Vanilla, and there are holiday-themed creations as well. At Christmas time, customers unwrapped Gingersnap and Cinnamon Spice, and Valentine’s Day inspired several pink options, such as Hibiscus Rose.
Alpert and Butler source the majority of fruits and vegetables used in their mixers from Central Coast farmers markets, and get as much of the rest locally as possible. The produce is purchased whole and processed by hand.
There are no artificial colors, flavorings or preservatives, and most of the herbs used are organic. The sweetener is just a simple syrup made with cane sugar.
“We don’t strain the mixers, so you’ll need to shake it up before using,” Alpert said. “From there, just add alcohol, ice, give it a stir or a shake and you’re good to go. Most drinks will be a one-to-one ratio of mixer to alcohol, except for the Old Fashioned, which is a little boozier.”
Alpert added that you can also use the mixers as flavorings for tea, sparkling water or plain water.
Originally, Yes Artisan Beverages were packaged in 16-ounce Mason jars. That proved a bit messy for pouring, so the mixers are now available in bottles of the same size that make 16 cocktails, or 30 flavored champagnes.
Recently, the couple added another product line to their Yes Artisan Beverages offerings.
To add an extra dimension to your cocktails, they’ve created five flavored rimming sugars: spicy, anise, lavender, vanilla and lemon. Flavored salts aren’t far behind, they said.
Butler said the names for the couple’s fledgling businesses came from their theater background.
Whenever an actor steps onto a stage to do improvisation, she explained, the first rule to keep the scene moving is to always agree with whatever scenario the other actor has created — to internally say “Yes!”
It’s a philosophy Alpert and Butler apply to life as well. As their website notes, “(We) truly believe that the best way to achieve success and happiness is to say YES to big dreams, new opportunities, and unlikely adventures — the rest will follow. Cheers!”
Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes Artisan Beverages
Cocktail mixers are available in 16-ounce bottles at several farmers markets in San Luis Obispo County, and select retail locations listed on the website.
Discover the Paso Robles Distillery Trail
Fire & Ice, presented by Distillers of San Luis Obispo County, features locally crafted spirits, live music, food and a cocktail throwdown. It takes place 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Grand Ballroom of the Paso Robles Inn at 1103 Spring St.
Tickets are $95. For more information, visit pasoroblesdistillerytrail.com/events.