Portuguese Bend to be Long Beach’s first distillery

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Rendering courtesy of Luis Navarro.

Long Beach is officially getting its first distillery and it will be housed in a complex dubbed Portuguese Bend—a reference to the largest reserve along the Palos Verdes Peninsula that acted a drop-off point for alcohol during Prohibition—in DTLB at the dreamy intersection of 3rd and The Promenade.

Lola’s and The Social List owners Luis and Brenda Navarro have decided to tackle their third adventure in gastronomy by offering the city its first Made In Long Beach spirits, including vodka, two styles of gin—a California gin, typically characterized by the use of local botanicals like bay laurel, and classic English gin—English naval rum (characterized by a high ABV), Caribbean rum, bourbon, and a single malt whiskey.

The Navarros’ investors—ranging from one of the drummers of NOFX to the old Executive Chef from El Pollo Loco—is drawing the attention they need in getting what Luis calls “a game changer.”

The Navarros have long held an interest in the alcohol-creation game when they started talking about opening a brewery some three-and-a-half years ago.

“We got approached by great guys at Liberation Brewing Company and I quickly became a small investor in that,” Luis said. “As they were going about making that a reality, I knew that something I wanted to be deeply invested in could no long be a brewery—the market was just saturated.”

Longtime friend Simon Haxton (and now Portuguese Bend investor) then posed the question that changed it all: “What about a distillery?”

Portuguese Bend will be what Luis described as a trifecta: a distillery, a tasting room, and a restaurant, all in DTLB, complete with distribution and bottling. The restaurant, the Willmore Yards Eatery, will be gastronomy paired with craft cocktails in what Luis said will be a “pre-prohibition style bar—live jazz, the works.”

Portuguese Bend, set to take up shop at 300 N Promenade in DTLB, is expected to open late next year.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food to politics to urban transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 12 nominations and an additional win for Best Political Commentary. Born in Big Bear, he has lived in Long Beach since college. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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