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LISTEN: That's the Spirit — Scene in San Diego Ft. Eater Podcast Learns How Local Distillery Is Bringing ‘Sensory Experience' Home & Surviving the Pandemic

Monica Garske, lead editor of NBC 7's The Scene, and Candice Woo, founding editor of Eater San Diego, talk about San Diego’s food scene in these times of COVID-19

Cutwater Spirits

In this episode of our podcast, Scene in San Diego Featuring Eater, we talk about how one well-known local distillery is still hosting tasting events – at home – and how these kinds of events are one way for San Diegans to take part in our local food and drink scene.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Cutwater Spirits would host its Sensory Experience cocktail pairings at its 250-seat tasting room and restaurant in Miramar. Those tastings have shifted online, still expertly led by the brand’s director of quality and innovation, Gwen Conley.

Cutwater Spirits founder and master distiller Yuseff Cherney joins us to talk about how, exactly, those virtual tastings work. He also discusses the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on his distillery – and how Cutwater is managing to keep those canned cocktails moving, despite today’s unique set of COVID-19 challenges.

Of course, as some San Diego companies find ways to keep business going, others must, sadly, throw in the towel. The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has forced many beloved local restaurants and bars to permanently close. This week we talk about another closure that really hurts: Jayne’s Gastropub on 30th Street in San Diego’s uptown area.

Listen to Episode 5 here:

Listen/subscribe to the Scene in San Diego Featuring Eater Podcast to get the latest local lifestyle stories and news from our local food and drink scene. As we continue to adjust to life in the coronavirus pandemic, the way we enjoy our city has changed. We’ll keep you up to speed on those changes as it impacts the things to do during your downtime in San Diego. Tap here to find Scene in San Diego Featuring Eater wherever you listen to podcasts.


Episode 5: Virtual Cutwater Spirits - A Sensory Experience

These days, everyone’s comfort level is different when it comes to going out or staying home. Since practically everything’s gone virtual during the pandemic, we’ve been exploring some cool, local events that have taken that route.

One of those events comes from San Diego-based distillery, Cutwater Spirits.

It’s called Sensory Spirits Experience and it is a (usually) monthly class that pairs Cutwater’s cocktails with small bites. The brand’s next tasting will be held Aug. 28 at 5:30 p.m. live on Cutwater’s Instagram account., for California-based consumers only.

Here’s how it works: Customers pre-order the tasting kits here – either for home delivery or pickup at Cutwater’s Miramar tasting room. The kits include all the drinks and snacks that will be paired during the virtual class, plus instructions on how to plate the goodies when it’s time. The kits cost $25.

This time, the class will focus on these three spirits from Cutwater: Black Skimmer Rye Whiskey (a 50ML bottle); Cutwater Opah (a 50ML bottle); and Cutwater’s Paloma canned cocktail.

Then, at the set time and date, Conley will lead the virtual tasting event, offering her rich knowledge and unique perspective on which cocktails pair well with which snacks. Cheers to that.

Cutwater Spirits
Cutwater Spirits, a San Diego-based distillery, hosts tasting events at its Miramar facility. In pandemic times, though, those events have gone virtual.

Guest Interview: Yuseff Cherney, Cutwater Spirits Founder & Master Distiller

Cherney joined our Scene in San Diego Ft. Eater podcast to talk about how Cutwater shifted those tastings online and why they’re both fun and educational for cocktail enthusiasts.

“We have a fantastic partner in Gwen Conley,” he said. “She calls herself the ‘Sensory Goddess.’ And now she’s sending out these little care packages.”

“She’s been able to go online and host these experiences, so people feel like they’re still connected to the brand and being able to experience these new products that we offer,” Cherney explained.

“The Sensory Experience is not only an educational tool; it tends to expand the horizons of folks who maybe didn’t think of pairing a cocktail with food, you know? They were thinking wine or beer,” he added. “The expertise she has is amazing.”

Cherney also talks to us about how Cutwater Spirits has been lending a hand in the community.

Cutwater Spirits
Cutwater Spirits founder and master distiller Yuseff Cherney in the lab.

Early in the pandemic, the distillery was one of more than a dozen members of the San Diego Distillers Guild that started producing hand sanitizer, donating it to places in need.

Meanwhile, the Cutwater Spirits tasting room and kitchen in Miramar has been hosting free lunch pickup events for local restaurant and bar industry workers impacted by the pandemic. Cherney knows times are hard for the industry, and small things like that can help.

Although Cherney is fortunate enough to be able to keep his brand going during these challenging times, he talks about some obstacles along the way – like not being able to sell Cutwater’s signature canned cocktails at Petco Park during this year’s modified MLB season. The downtown San Diego ballpark is normally a huge stage for the brand when the Padres play at home, with actual live fans in the stands.

He also talks about changes at the Cutwater Spirits tasting room.

As Cherney touches on the future of local distilleries weathering the COVID-19 crisis, he also gives us the scoop on some new spirits and cocktails that are in the works, including a heavy-hitting canned Long Island Iced Tea.


Another Longtime Gem, Gone: Goodbye, Jayne’s Gastropub

In our previous episode, we talked about a few longtime local restaurants that permanently closed. Each closure hurts; each closure impacts a community and changes San Diego’s dining landscape.

Unfortunately, we’re not done seeing this trend. The industry has been deeply rattled and changed by the pandemic and we are keeping an eye on more restaurant closures.

This time, we talk about a big blow to the 30th Street dining scene: the shuttering of Jayne’s Gastropub. In business for more than a decade, Jayne’s really helped to introduce British gastropub culture to San Diego, putting a gourmet spin on classic pub food. It also helped to kickstart the strong food scene around 30th and Adams Avenue that’s now home to hotspots like Cantina Mayahuel, Polite Provisions, Et Voila and more.

Both Eater San Diego and The Scene are keeping a running list of local gems that have closed during the pandemic, so check here and here for the latest on that.


Listen/subscribe to the Scene in San Diego Featuring Eater Podcast to get the latest local lifestyle stories and news from our local food and drink scene. As we continue to adjust to life in the coronavirus pandemic, the way we enjoy our city has changed. We’ll keep you up to speed on those changes as it impacts the things to do during your downtime in San Diego. Tap here to find Scene in San Diego Featuring Eater wherever you listen to podcasts.

For more content from The Scene, visit this website. For more content from Eater San Diego, click here. And to read our collaboration content with Eater and The Scene every week, click here.

The Scene in San Diego Feat. Eater Podcast is hosted by NBC 7’s Monica Garske and Eater San Diego’s Candice Woo, and is produced by NBC 7’s Matthew Lewis.

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