Laura Johnson: How to Make a Cocktail

August 9 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Cheers to You and Yours

Back in the day, women made great strides during the Prohibition era, which aligned with the suffrage movement. It turns out, though, that once the country went dry, women experienced some unexpected perks: Spaces for drinking that were typically reserved for men, like saloons, were replaced with speakeasies that welcomed lady drinkers and bootleggers. That’s right, working and middle-class women opened their grandmas’ cookbooks to find recipes for homemade liquor and wine, and made that money. Today, bring out your inner flapper with a cocktail or a business plan.


Since the 1970s, the number of women with physical-science degrees has increased twofold. Acquiring these degrees has encouraged some women to experiment with chemistry and distilling as a career option. That means more women than ever are becoming distillers and acquainting themselves with spirits. Cheers to that!

WOMAN TO WATCH: Laura Johnson, Founder of You and Yours Distilling Co.

Surprise, surprise! Today’s Woman to Watch is a part of the growing distilling industry. Laura Johnson not only started a killer distillery called You and Yours, but she’s also made history as the founder of Southern California’s first female-owned distillery.

Laura’s journey to opening her own distillery wasn’t so easy. When she was a child, she’d stay home from school to watch Food Network, and when she was 18, she decided to take her very first tour of a distillery. After learning about the industry in a bunch of courses and workshops about distilling, though, she couldn’t find a job for almost a year. That’s when she decided she wanted to be in charge of her very own place to distill and taste spirits, as well as host events.

What resonates with so many women about Laura’s story is that she didn’t set off crafting spirits or paving the way for female distillers. She interned at a magazine and worked as an executive assistant at a boutique before realizing a career in distilling was right for her.

You and Yours features whitewashed brick, concrete floors and community tables. Laura’s made a distillery that’s both approachable and totally social-media photo ready. Since the distillery is located in San Diego, there’s no need for customers to trek to nowheresville to tour or try out craft spirits.

The distillery’s flagship products are Y&Y Vodka, Sunday Flagship Gin and Sunday Winter Gin. The famous blog and lifestyle brand Cupcakes + Cashmere even relied on You and Yours to craft its perfect 10-year anniversary cocktail, which features the Sunday Gin, bitters, lemon oleo and rose-petal cordial. How divine!

As Laura says, she knew she wanted to be in the industry “come hell or high water” following that initial distillery tour. What was certainly a disappointing and stressful time in her life actually encouraged Laura to discover the confidence within and go into business herself. We are definitely glad she did.


Laura Johnson learned plenty about starting a business from scratch. Here’s one piece of her advice for all the entrepreneurs out there:

“Always treat your business like it’s exactly where you want it to be. That is, invest in your business as if it’s already successful—as in, don’t cut corners.”

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