IN PICTURES: A sneak peek inside Long Beach’s first distillery, Portuguese Bend

The first unveiling of Portuguese Bend Distilling, Long Beach’s first distillery, brought in media and investors to preview the space and taste the spirits of the much anticipated project on Thursday night. Originally announced in 2017, owners Luis Navarro and Brenda Riviera, the duo behind Lola’s Mexican Cuisine and The Social List on Fourth Street, and owner and master distiller Simon Haxton, welcomed guests after many a sleepless night preparing for this day.

“We’re just really excited to bring something the city can be proud of that doesn’t exist anywhere else,” Haxton said.

The space, designed by Retail Design Collaborative, pays homage to the boats and smugglers who turned Portuguese Bend, the bay near San Pedro, into the main artery of SoCal’s booze transportation during Prohibition.

The distillery is a double batch, 600-gallon system complete with custom, handmade copper stills shipped in from Atlanta, said Haxton. It takes about two to four weeks to make their vodka and gin and about three to four months to make rum. Whiskey takes anywhere from two to 15 years. Everything, including Portuguese Bend’s Dona Rosa Gin, the highlight of the “Yass Please” cocktail served Thursday, is made in-house, albeit the whiskey will be aged in barrels offsite. Other drinks on the menu included the Moonlighter, with Portuguese Bend’s Breakwater Vodka and a Negroni with their Smoked Bay Gin.

Portuguese Bend will be soft opening Tuesday to the public with lunch and dinner hours.

Stay apprised of hours and updates on Facebook here, the website and Instagram @portuguesebend_distilling.

Portuguese Bend Distilling is located at 300 The Promenade North.

Portuguese Bend, Long Beach’s first distillery, held its VIP opening on Thursday, June 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

Portuguese Bend, Long Beach’s first distillery, held its VIP opening on Thursday, June 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

Portuguese Bend, Long Beach’s first distillery, held its VIP opening on Thursday, June 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

Portuguese Bend, Long Beach’s first distillery, held its VIP opening on Thursday, June 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

Portuguese Bend, Long Beach’s first distillery, held its VIP opening on Thursday, June 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

Portuguese Bend, Long Beach’s first distillery, held its VIP opening on Thursday, June 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

The “Yass Please” made with Portuguese Bend Dona Rosa Gin, Campari, Giffard Orgeat, fresh-squeezed lemon and grapefruit juice, pineapple gum syrup, topped with IPA. Portuguese Bend, Long Beach’s first distillery, held its VIP opening on Thursday, June 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

Owner/distiller Simon Haxton at Portuguese Bend, Long Beach’s first distillery, during its VIP opening on Thursday, June 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

Portuguese Bend, Long Beach’s first distillery, held its VIP opening on Thursday, June 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.
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