Southern California environment news and trends

Greenbar Collective plants new roots in LA's Cleantech Corridor

Molly Peterson/KPCC

Greenbar Collective has a distillery and a tasting room in downtown LA.

Molly Peterson/KPCC

The company was the first resident of LA's cleantech corridor.

Molly Peterson/KPCC

Greenbar Collective's holiday party featured 3 cocktails made with the company's organic liquors and bitters.

Molly Peterson/KPCC

Greenbar's distillery, on 8th Street in Los Angeles.

Molly Peterson/KPCC

Litty Matthew & Melkon Khosrovian say it's been a good couple of years of growth at Greenbar Collective. Melkon says small-batch liquors are growing the way small-batch beers once did.

Molly Peterson/KPCC

The lobby of Greenbar Collective. The company plants a tree for every bottle of liquor sold; it's close to a quarter of a million trees planted now.

A couple of years ago, I profiled Melkon Khosrovian & Litty Matthew: a husband-and-wife team who founded Greenbar Collective, an organic spirits company seeking to capitalize on what they saw as a booming cocktail and mixology trend. 

At the time, Melkon & Litty described their investment in organic and fresh ingredients: 

They spend more for organic ingredients: Juniper berries for TRU gin cost as much as 50 percent more than conventionally grown ones. Still, Mathew says organic farms are plentiful in Southern California - good citrus is local too. She runs a fingernail over a bumpy navel orange. "It's great for what we do because there's so much orange oil in it."

Melkon starts making an Organic Friday cocktail: equal parts Crusoe spiced rum and Fruit Lab Crism hibiscus liquor, agave and lemon juice, shaken.

The company's Crusoe Rum is made with molasses byproducts from sugar production in South America - a sort of upcycling of what would otherwise go to animal feed.

Greenbar was Monrovia-based, but Gold Line growth sent the company looking for a new base. With financial incentives from the city of Los Angeles, they found it on 8th street in industrial downtown. 

The company's been doing a holiday party for as long as I can remember. I stopped by this year to see what the place looked like, and to get an update from Melkon about how the specialty liquor industry is doing, and how LA is working out as a business home. 

He says Greenbar is part of the revival of downtown's arts ditsrict, and that his firm is just the type of "small, green" manufacturing company the city wants to attract to its Cleantech Corridor. Melkon adds that a "resurgence of cocktails" is driving tremendous growth for his business.

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