Walk into Owens Valley Distilling Company, and you may feel you’ve been transplanted suddenly to a much hipper town than little old Bishop, California—Portland, Oregon comes to mind.
Dave and Brittany Holman, the owners of the business, which is located off the beaten path on South Street, have kitted out the tiny warehouse with vintage Globe Electric bulbs, intricately upholstered furniture and sleek piping (check out the steel-and-copper still in the back).
Dave, who has run a refurbished furniture business with Brittany since the two moved to Bishop in 2006, says the interior of the Distillery’s tasting room is about 60 percent recycled materials, salvaged from the Owens Valley and points beyond.
The pair found their way to the Owens Valley from Chicago, where Dave ran a big box furniture store and Brittany worked as a dental assistant.
They decided to sell it all and move out west. So they bought an RV, came to Bishop to climb, and just never left. Twelve years later, they’re churning out small-batch, artisan spirits at an astonishing pace.
They’ve got a vodka, a gin on the way, and two rums (Quintuple, made with molasses and Belgian ale yeast, and Argentum, made with cane sugar, molasses, and baker’s yeast).
The drinks are delightful. The mojito ($7.50) is served in a tall glass with wheels of lime intermingling with ice, condensation beading outside the glass on a warm Bishop afternoon.
The John Daly ($5), named after the former mayor of Chicago, is a vodka-spiked Arnold Palmer and friendly on the wallet.
They also serve Chicago-style food as an homage to their roots. The Italian Beef ($9.95) is made with traditional Vienna Beef, as is the Chicago-style hot dog ($5.50), a “hot dog that’s been dragged through the garden” with a legit dill spear served on top.
The joint is tiny—they’ve only got a capacity of 25 in the building. So probably best not to bring the entire climbing crew in with you. It’s more of a place to bring your date, anyway. Cozy up into one of the gilded paisley booths and enjoy watching the place work.
Owens Valley Distilling Company is located at 237 S. Street, Unit E. in Bishop. Hours are Thursday-Friday from 12-7 p.m. and Saturday from 12-8 p.m. with variable hours during the week for bottle sales only. 442.228.5041.
Sarah Rea is a freelance dirtbag-turned-journalist who has been living in the Sierra on and off for twenty years, with eight spent in Yosemite National Park and five in Mammoth Lakes. She likes dogs, rocks, good food and jumping into cold water.