What’s your pleasure? A smoky peated single malt? 151 rum? A workout walk around the stately Rose Bowl? How about all of the above and more, on a visit to Stark Spirits, a distillery discreetly tucked away in the shadow of Pasadena’s most famous landmark.
Stark Spirits really puts the “micro” in the term microdistillery. It occupies a 1,200-square-foot space in an unassuming business park just a mile from the Rose Bowl. Owners Greg Stark and Karen Robinson-Stark run every part of the distilling process, working hard alongside such cool machinery as their 1,000-liter handmade Hoga copper still. They even hand-label and sign every bottle. As for the contents of said bottles, the range is impressive, satisfying the whiskey connoisseur with a smoky peated single malt, or the tropical drinker with three types of rum, including a killer 151. There’s also aquavit, Skyline Gin, and Sunshine, a brandy made from oranges. An intimate tour of Stark Spirits will leave you with that warm feeling you get from good spirits and good people.
POST-SIPS STROLL: The Rose Bowl is the centerpiece of a beautiful greenbelt, which you can explore on a 6-mile walk. Start by navigating to Arroyo Boulevard at Washington Boulevard. A right on Arroyo shortly connects with a dirt trail that crosses a babbling stream and loops around a golf course beneath towering oaks. Soon enough, the iconic stadium comes into sight. At Salvia Canyon Road, turn right to pick up the John C. Crowley Trail for an excellent workout and a high perspective on the stadium. Head back down and continue toward the Rose Bowl—be sure to look for the Jackie Robinson statue—before you reconnect with Arroyo Boulevard and your northward return to Stark. Pasadena perfect!
Take the I-210 to the Lincoln Ave. exit and go south on Lincoln for 0.5 mile. Stark Spirits is on the left in the Pasadena Business Park. Tours (free) are Fridays and Saturdays from 2 to 6 p.m. Visit the Stark Spirits website to make reservations. No dogs in distillery.