Future Gin was created by four queer women and longtime friends Amy Atwood, Mary Bartlett, Freya Estreller and Natasha Case, who wanted to conjure up a spirit that tells an L.A. story. They didn’t have to venture farther than their own backyard to combine grape and avocado leaves with Meyer lemons for an assertive taste of California.
They combined the structure of a dry gin with mid-city backyard flavors and distilled them alongside traditional botanicals to produce a 90-proof gin that from development, to marketing and branding, to distribution, is fully owned by women.
“The four of us have been friends for a while,” Estreller tells L.A. Weekly in a phone call from her and Case’s Wilshire Park home. The married couple launched the Coolhaus frozen treat brand in Culver City, which has since been acquired by Perfect Day of the Urgent Company.
“We had known Amy since 2008, when she was one of the first lesbian business owners in food and beverage that we had met right when Natasha and I started Coolhaus.” says Estreller. We really looked up to Amy and loved gin, and wanted to make something very LA-inspired that tasted like the bountiful flavors of California citrus. In the beginning with the first batches, we were using Meyer lemons from our backyard, avocado leaves from Amy’s backyard, and must have gone through 14 or 15 iterations, and it took about a year to get to the final product on the market now. It’s very citrus-forward with the lemon and grapefruit, and of course, juniper. It’s not chill-filtered, so that keeps a lot of that bold citrus flavor. Typically with chill filtration, you’re freezing and straining all the oils out from the citrus and we wanted to highlight that. It also gives it a softer mouth feel.”
With the couple’s brand chops, Atwood’s distribution knowledge and Bartlett’s bartending background, the women came up with an assertive and accessible spirit in the $38 to $40 range that represents the future to them in an industry that has precious few female brand owners in the liquor space.
In addition to creating and expanding Future Gin and still very involved in the Coolhaus brand, Case and Estreller are married parents to 2-year-old Nico and 5-year-old Remy, and Case is about to get her feet wet in the political arena.
Does that ever get stressful?
“Well, that’s why we have ice cream and gin,” says Estreller. “We have a very vibrant life and there’s a lot that we’re interested in. The kids provide a new way to live again. I feel like I’m seeing the world through the eyes of our kids, and it’s a new perspective. Our 5-year-old Remy is biologically related to me because he came from my egg. Then 2- year-old Nico comes from Natasha’s egg. We used the same sperm donor, so Nico and Remy are biologically related to each other through the donor.
“Natasha did try to carry the second time around, but it just wasn’t working, and because I had already carried Remy, we decided that because Natasha’s eggs were a year-and-a-half younger and we were going to have to do IVF anyway, I figured I could carry. But honestly and selfishly, I imagined what it would be like if Natasha was pregnant, I’d have to take care of Remy, be working full-time and then I have to take care of my pregnant wife – hmmm, I decided I’d rather have it the other way around.”
It helps to have both extended families living locally as part of the village raising the kids and as the couple says, it expands your heart and you make more time, you prioritize your time better when you have the constraints.
“If you want to get something done, give it to a working mom,” says Estreller.
On Saturday, June 25, at noon, women-, BIPOC- and queer-owned Future Gin and U Street Pizza will host a Doing Good During Pride event to benefit the Downtown Women’s Center. The event takes place at U Street Pizza in Pasadena starting at noon. Tickets are $20 per person and include one Future Gin cocktail, a slice of U Street Pizza, and all the items needed to make a Downtown Women’s Center donation kit. Tickets can be purchased via Resy here and also will be available at the door.