Raff Distillerie – a hidden gem in San Francisco

No trip to San Francisco is complete without a visit to a distillery (and several bars). Last year, we checked out St. George Distillery and Distillery No 209. This year, we were lucky enough to stop in Treasure Island for a tour of Raff Distillerie.

Raff Distillerie still

Raff Distillerie

Currently located in a old military building, Raff Distillerie produces Emperor Norton Absinthe Dieu, Bummer & Lazarus Gin and Barbary Coast Rhum Agricole. Owner and distiller, Carter Raff, built all of the distillery equipment by hand, including the hybrid still used to make all the good stuff.

Raff Distillerie bottling line

While we didn’t really see any distilling being done during our visit, we did get to taste everything they produce. And really? That’s the best part of visiting any distillery. So, let me tell you about their spirits. Starting with the absinthe, of course.

Emperor Norton Absinthe Dieu

This absinthe is made from 100% California grape brandy and distilled with herbs including grand and Roman wormwood from Pontarlier, France. It’s warming in the mouth with a wonderful taste of black licorice followed by floral and citrus notes. It has a long finish and is slightly sweet even though it’s made with no sugar. Try it the traditional way or as the rinse in this absinthe daiquiri.

emperor norton absinthe dieu - Raff Distillerie - onemartini.com

Bummer & Lazarus Gin

Again, this spirit starts with a base of 100% California grape brandy and is then redistilled with juniper berries, orris root, coriander seed, angelica root, bitter orange peel, lemon peel, cinnamon bark and licorice root. It’s a dry gin with floral and citrus notes and a spicy finish. I love it in gin & tonics with a sprig of something from the garden and a lemon twist.

Bummer & Lazarus Gin - Raff Distillerie - onemartini.com

Barbary Coast Rhum Agricole

Rhum agricole is different from regular rum. It’s made from sugar cane juice instead of molasses. It’s earthy and grassy and really, really, really fantastic. Especially in daiquiris. And Barbary Coast Rhum Agricole definitely fits the bill here. While I tried this one at Raff Distillerie, I don’t have a bottle at home (and I didn’t take notes at the distillery) so I don’t have any tasting notes for you. But, I do recommend you pick up a bottle if you can find it. And then use it in a daiquiri, or more specifically a Hemingway Daiquiri.

Barbary Coast Rhum Agricole - Raff Distillerie - onemartini.com

Want to know more about Raff Distillerie? Check out their website and stay on the lookout for what else they have to come. I’m sure it will be good.

Note: Not a sponsored post. I was just lucky enough to tour their distillery and wanted to share about it.


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Jessica Torres is the chief cocktail creator here at One Martini. Outside of the internet, she works at DEATH & TAXES (a bar) and midtown eats (a restaurant) in Reno, Nevada. When not working, Jessica can be found working out, spending time with her family or attempting to nap. Subscribe to our newsletter to get all of the latest cocktail creations delivered directly to your inbox.
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