In 2018, almost two decades after meeting at a bar in Chicago, libations would once again prove pivotal for Marsh and Jan Mokhtari—this time around, with the launch of Gray Whale Gin, which is distilled and bottled by their company, Golden State Distillery. (Both are gin enthusiasts.)
Photo credit: Courtesy of Gray Whale Gin
Jan, an award-winning creative director, had previously created campaigns and content for major global brands, while Marsh, a food and adventure show host, had appeared on the Food Network, National Geographic and Travel Channel. Their gin is the result of visits to 50-plus distilleries and two years of recipe development.
According to the couple, “Gray Whale Gin tastes like California in a glass.” Indeed, it is composed of six sustainably sourced botanicals from throughout the state: juniper (Big Sur), sea kelp (Mendocino Coast), almonds (Capay Valley), lime (Temecula), fir (Sonoma) and mint (Santa Cruz). Organic paint is used on their distinctive blue bottles, which are upcycled for candles, and the corks are biodegradable.
The name of the Mokhtaris’ venture can be traced to a camping trip in Big Sur, when they witnessed a gray whale and her calf making their annual 12,000-mile migration. Conversations from that getaway led to a desire to create a “meaningful legacy” for their daughters, now ages 15 and 13—“a product we could be proud of, that would actively give back to ocean conservation and this majestic animal.” Every bottle supports their cause, with contributions to Oceana and 1% for the Planet. “We founded Gray Whale Gin on the simple notion that a spirit can bring people together for good times, and while together do some good in the world.”
As for their favorite cocktails, Marsh is a classic martini fan; in particular, a 3 to 1 ratio with Dolin Blanc vermouth and a lemon twist garnish. Jan loves the refreshing Whale Hello There, which she maintains will win over even those who may not think they like gin. Shake, sip and see for yourself.
Whale Hello There
2 ounces Gray Whale Gin + ½ ounce fresh lime juice + ½ ounce fresh lemon juice + ½ ounce agave syrup
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour in the gin, lime juice, lemon juice and agave. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass, or strain over a rocks glass filled with ice, depending on preference. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve immediately.