March 17, 2022

Venus Spirits Debuts YOLO Mezcal and Creative Menu

The first pit-roasted 100% California-grown agave has been released by Santa Cruz’s Venus Spirits. Called YOLO after the county where the agave was grown, it will sell for $90 a bottle at the tasting room and online. Agave offers a unique opportunity for farmers to transition to drought-resistant agriculture, producing a sustainable product. Venus Cocktails and Kitchen – an idea born out of using distilled spirits in creating farm-to-table menu items in a hyperlocal space – opened just as the pandemic was beginning in spring 2020. Venus’ multi-functional ecosystem, follows a three-part journey in terms of its design. Moving west to east, visitors can start with a tasting flight and small plates in the Tasting Room followed by a tour of the distillery, and finish in the indoor/outdoor dining area with curated drinks and smart plates from Executive Chef James Manss, who joined the team mid-pandemic. Manss has built a rapport with local farmers and fishermen based on his past experience. He plans to add mussels with fennel, leeks, and chili pepper threads; smoked salmon with purple radishes, wasabi cream, and black mustard seeds; and mole baby back ribs with habanero-apricot jam and mole barbecue sauce to the menu options. Using Venus’ distilled spirits as ingredients in dishes adds a uniqueness to the eatery’s offerings, like “elote” chile relleno (the True Grit special: Ladrón reposado, mezcal, green chartreuse, grilled pineapple, and smoked sea salt), or the chocolate torte with Gun Smoke (Wayward single malt whiskey, walnut liqueur, chocolate and angostura bitters, peated whiskey spritz and charred cinnamon).

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