About the Author
Joe Wehinger (nicknamed Joe Winger) has written for over 20 years about the business of lifestyle and entertainment. Joe is an entertainment producer, media entrepreneur, public speaker, and C-level consultant who owns businesses in entertainment, lifestyle, tourism and publishing. He is an award-winning filmmaker, published author, member of the Directors Guild of America, International Food Travel Wine Authors Association, WSET Level 2 Wine student, WSET Level 2 Cocktail student, member of the LA Wine Writers. Email to:

Pasadena’s Newest: Pez Coastal Kitchen Brings Incredible Taste and Romance with Upscale sea and farm-to-table, seasonal California cuisine

Pasadena Newest Pez Coastal Kitchen brings Taste and Romance with upscale sea and farm-to-table, seasonal California cuisine

Executive Chef & Proprietor Bret Thompson and Lucy Thompson-Ramirez proudly announce the official Grand Opening of Pez Coastal Kitchen, their new upscale seafood focused eatery in Pasadena on Thursday, February 15th, 2024!

Grand Opening of Pez Coastal Kitchen Thursday, February 15th

Executive Chef Proprietor Bret Thompson and Lucy Thompson-Ramirez proudly announce the official Grand Opening of Pez Coastal Kitchen

Executive Chef Proprietor Bret Thompson and Lucy Thompson-Ramirez proudly announce the official Grand Opening of Pez Coastal Kitchen // Photo Credit: Jakob N. Layman

Located on the corner of Union Street and North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena’s hottest culinary spot, Pez Coastal Kitchen promises a lively and innovative dining experience with a focus on sea and farm-to-table, seasonal California cuisine.

Pez Coastal Kitchen's Oysters on the Half Shell

Pez Coastal Kitchen’s Oysters on the Half Shell // Photo Credit: Jakob N. Layman

Executive Chef Bret Thompson and Lucy Thompson-Ramirez are a dynamic husband and wife team that have made a significant impact in the hospitality industry. With their passion for culinary excellence and warm hospitality, they have created a signature name for themselves in the Los Angeles dining scene and beyond and they are now joined at Pez Coastal Kitchen in Pasadena with their magnetic team of top industry professionals Director of Operations Chris Mesa, Chef Joe Gillard, General Manager Brittany Player, and Bar Manager Mike Dane.

Pez Coastal Kitchen's Bar

Pez Coastal Kitchen’s Bar // Photo Credit: Jakob N. Layman

Chef Bret Thompson’s culinary journey began at the renowned California Culinary Academy in San Francisco where he then honed his skills at esteemed establishments such as Aqua in San Francisco, Roy’s in Hawaii, and Pinot Blanc in St. Helena, California.

Seeking international inspiration, Bret traveled to Spain to study under Chef Martin Berasategui at Restaurante Martin Berasategui, a Michelin 2-star establishment in Lasarte, Spain.

He further expanded his culinary repertoire in Lebanon at Atlas Café, then studied under Chef Bernard Loiseau at La Cote d’Or his Michelin 3-star restaurant in Saulieu, France, and then L’Arpege, Chef Alain Passard’s Michelin 3-star restaurant in Paris.

Throughout his career, Bret also had an extensive tenure with The Patina Group, working at multiple restaurants, running catering operations and ultimately becoming the Corporate Executive Chef overseeing all restaurant operations for the entire group.

Pez Coastal Kitchen's Dining Room

Pez Coastal Kitchen’s Dining Room // Photo Credit: Jakob N. Layman

In 2007 to 2022, Chef Bret Thompson and Lucy Thompson-Ramirez owned Milk Ice Cream, and in 2015 they decided to embark on a new culinary adventure together as the proud owners of Pez Cantina, their seasonal, modern, coastal-inspired Mexican restaurant and bar, located in downtown Los Angeles which quickly became a beloved dining destination and in October 2021, they expanded with a new location in Montebello, California, LA Burrito Co.

Thompson and Thompson-Ramirez’s newest venture will continue their commitment to sea-to-table and farm-to-table cuisine, but as Chef Joe Gillard joins Executive Chef Bret Thompson in the kitchen, the focus at Pez Coastal Kitchen will be on innovative techniques such as curing, smoking, and the specialized dry-aging of seafood which will be a distinctive feature.

Pez Coastal Kitchen, Rosemary Paloma

Pez Coastal Kitchen, Rosemary Paloma // Photo Credit: Jakob N. Layman

This new concept will focus on seafood, but will also extend beyond, encompassing meat, poultry, and a unique emphasis on the curing and smoking of meats and seafood, known as Sea-cuterie.

Executive Chef Bret Thompson is excited to go back to his European roots.

“I’m excited to serve seasonal cuisine with a big seafood nuance.”

Executive Chef Bret Thompson

“We will be showcasing shellfish towers like you might see in the streets of Paris at the brasseries. We’ll also be doing whole fish fries, and we have a massive open ice area where guests can see all the fresh seafood, we will be serving each night including whole fish, shrimp, oysters, sea urchin, and whatever is in season.”

Pez Coastal Kitchen, Seafood Tower

Pez Coastal Kitchen, Seafood Tower // Photo Credit: Jakob N. Layman

The Pez Coastal Kitchen Menu starts off with Appetizers which include Chilled Beets with hazelnuts, burrata, winter greens and a hibiscus vinaigrette, the Pez Caesar prepared with gem lettuce, black kale, pepitas, colossal nori crisp, and white anchovies, Black Mussels a la Bouillabaisse with smoked pepper rouille and sesame griddle cake, and Crispy Sweetbreads Fritto Misto with a black lime aioli.

The Chilled Seafood and Crudos decadently spotlight Pez Coastal Kitchen’s seafood at its finest starting with a Chilled Seafood Tower for Two showcasing a ½ lobster, six jumbo shrimp, twelve oysters, four crab claws, and two scallop aguachile shooters, with a selection of sauces – black garlic aioli, mignonette, and salsa macha, Daily Oysters on the Half Shell, Dry-Aged Kingfish Crudo, Hokkaido Scallop Tartare, and Steelhead Trout Rillette served with American sturgeon caviar, forbidden rice cake, and pickled shallots.

Pez Coastal Kitchen, Spaghetti alla Chitarra

Pez Coastal Kitchen, Spaghetti alla Chitarra // Photo Credit: Jakob N. Layman

Pez Coastal Kitchen Entrees

The Entrees are recommended to be enjoyed family-style featuring Whole Fried Fish, Alaskan Halibut, Seared Jumbo Scallops served with a smoked ham-celery fritter and truffled apple salad, Smoked Baby Back Ribs, Prime Center Cut Filet of Ribeye with a green peppercorn demi and Pez fries, Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Manila clams, mussels, and uni nage, and Crispy Half-Chicken with chicken “lule”, petite roasted carrots and radish, apricot, sage, and carrot demi.

Pez Coastal Kitchen Veggies and Sides

And finally, a selection of exceptional Veggies and SidesPotato Gratin with bacon, gruyere, and cippolini onions, Yam Skins with green tahini, whipped feta and Marcona almonds, Hickory Smoked Cauliflower Steak with a spicy kumquat glaze, and shallot yogurt, and Brussels Sprouts with Red Boat caramel, seed crunch, and black garlic vinegar.

Pez Coastal Kitchen, Citrus Olive Oil Cake

Pez Coastal Kitchen, Citrus Olive Oil Cake // Photo Credit: Jakob N. Layman


Dessert is equally exciting with innovative delights such as Warm Chocolate Butterscotch Peanut Butter Cake with honeycomb ice cream, Citrus Olive Oil Cake served with mascarpone pistachio cream, limoncello granité, and strawberry, Mint Chip Ice Cream Brownie Sundae with Chocolate Strings, and Chai Spice Poached Pear with hazelnut crunch, tart yogurt, and blackberry compote.

Pez Coastal Kitchen, Mint Chip Ice Cream Brownie Sundae

Pez Coastal Kitchen, Mint Chip Ice Cream Brownie Sundae // Photo Credit: Jakob N. Layman


Complementing the mouthwatering menu is the well-stocked Pez Coastal Kitchen Bar, a long contemporary bar with a stunning emerald marble bar top, high ceiling, and magnificent fans making it a haven for cocktail enthusiasts and diners alike.

Pez Coastal Kitchen, Matcha Sour

Pez Coastal Kitchen, Matcha Sour // Photo Credit: Jakob N. Layman

Bar Manager Mike Dane has curated an exceptional cocktail program, featuring the Rosemary Paloma, Matcha Sour, Chartreuse Colada, and the signature Happy Wife, Happy Life comprised of Redemption High-Rye bourbon and Liquid Alchemist Apple Spice with a sugared apple crisp, along with an extensive selection of Premier Spirits, Wines, and Beers

Pez Coastal Kitchen, Lounge & Bar

Pez Coastal Kitchen, Lounge, Bar // Photo Credit: Jakob N. Layman


Pez Coastal Kitchen sits in a historical building that was built in 1896 and was completely transformed and redesigned by Margee Drews Design to exude a California-Mediterranean coastal feel across multiple spaces.

Guests enter a beautiful light and airy dining room with a stunning feature wall, large plush booths and banquettes with sleek wood tables surrounded by plush greenery, warm and welcoming lounge separated from the dining room by grand Mediterranean arches with high industrial ceilings and romantic Havana-style fans, a prominently placed cocktail bar and open kitchen.

drinks with friends, intimate dinners, group gatherings, or special events

Whether for drinks with friends, intimate dinners, group gatherings, or special events, Pez Coastal Kitchen promises an exceptional experience for all who walk through its doors!


As Co-Owners Executive Chef Bret Thompson and Lucy Thompson-Ramirez continue to innovate and reinvent themselves, and Pez Coastal Kitchen in Pasadena promises a unique blend of California coastal cuisine, thoughtfully crafted cocktails, specially curated wines, and their dedication to excellence ensures an unforgettable dining experience that celebrates vibrant flavors and genuine hospitality.

The Pez Coastal Kitchen official Grand Opening is Thursday, February 15th, 2024.

Pez Coastal Kitchen will be open for Dinnerevery Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm, and every Friday and Saturday from 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

For more information about Pez Coastal Kitchen or to make reservations, please call 626.210.0775 directly or visit

SNL Legend Darrell Hammond, DJ Paul Oakenfold Celebrate Comic Christine Peake’s Birthday at Sunset Strip’s Hotel Ziggy to Support Breast Cancer Bandit

SNL Legend Darrell Hammond, DJ Paul Oakenfold Celebrate Comic Christine Peake’s Birthday at Sunset Strip’s Hotel Ziggy to Support Breast Cancer Bandit

Comic Marisa Sulivan with Christine Peake

Comic Marisa Sullivan with Christine Peake

Hotel Ziggy was jam-packed to celebrate Comic Christine Peake’s birthday February 5.

Comedian and show Producer Christine Peake seen with CEO of sponsor ONEHOPE wine,her son Oliver Peake & his girlfriend Chandra East // Photo: Christine Peake

Comedian and show Producer Christine Peake seen with CEO Jake Kloberdanz of sponsor ONEHOPE wine,her son Oliver Peake & his girlfriend Chandra East // Photo: Christine Peake

Spotted among the crowd was SNL legend Darrell Hammond, One Hope Wine’s CEO Jake Kloberdanz, comics Marisa Sullivan, Cat Ce, Greg Baldwin, Elijah Blue Allman and wife Queenie, Executive Lainie Jordan, Media Publisher Joe Winger, indie filmmakers Susan Dynner and Alesia Glidewell.

Elijah Blue Allman and Queeny King. PHOTO: EUGENE POWERS PHOTOGRAPHY

Elijah Blue Allman and Queeny King. PHOTO: EUGENE POWERS PHOTOGRAPHY


Comedians Thash Mose, Christine Peake, Marisa Sullivan and Marc Gordon

Comedians Thash Mose, Christine Peake, Marisa Sullivan and Marc Gordon

The show started with a “this is your life” inspired segment hosted by Mark Gordon that walked Christine through her famed, outrageous, and notorious history.  Her modeling days, her celebrity days, being a mother, and most of all – being a badass.

Author Scott Nathan was chatting with DJ Paul Oakenfold about his new book “The Big Book Of Bad Decisions”

Author Scott Nathan was chatting with DJ Paul Oakenfold about his new book “The Big Book Of Bad Decisions”

Christine Peake had an explosive night. Unapologetic, and all smiles.  She walks on stage with a Liza Minelli via 1970s “Cabaret” vibe, all sass and attitude.  Within moments the crowd explodes with a “Did she really just say that??” feeling.  Oh, she did.  And she’s gonna go way further.

Peake razzle dazzles on stage, melting away any “cancel culture” chilly vibe and creating a hot room for big laughs.  She pops and shimmies across the stage in a Charlie Chaplin’s classic “Tramp” kinda way, while letting loose on politics, culture, and all the thoughts her audience is thinking, but are too afraid to say — she says them!

Keep an eye on Marisa Sullivan.  A veteran of sketch comedy, but tonight was her first stand-up show.  Powerful, brave, sensual and funny.  She is a cancer survivor and founded Breast Cancer Bandit. She teases us along, slowly going deep, getting real, more vulnerable with her life’s journey.  Then, like a comic ninja, she attacks with her biggest joke. Big heart, even bigger laughs.

Greg Baldwin is equal parts “aw shucks, nice guy”, self-help guru and deranged clown.  He’s been through alot and he makes jokes through even the darkest parts. One second we’re sharing a cathartic moment, the next step we’re laughing at his zany adventures. 

Socialite Linda Chou, Comedian Christine Peake and actress Nika Khitrova //photo David Chou

Socialite Linda Chou, Comedian Christine Peake and actress Nika Khitrova // photo David Chou

Darrell Hammond continues his reign of making laugh out loud comedy look easy.  I’ve seen him live 6 times and every time the room shakes with laughter.  Tonight he used the intimate setting to bring some crowd work into his act and the laughs echoed out onto the Sunset Strip.

Darrell Hammond // photo: by Arpit Mehta

Darrell Hammond // photo: by Arpit Mehta

DJ Paul Oakenfold brought rhythmic love and thunder to close out the night.  Intense, wild and lords of love! Oakenfold knows how to crank the party to 11 and he and his music brought it to a rainy Monday night.  

Hotel Ziggy

West Hollywood’s Hotel Ziggy Is a Place for the Creative Renegades. Part Music Venue, Part Boutique Hotel. Their Stylish Accommodations Are the Perfect Oasis.


ChocoVino is the first bean to bar chocolate factory in LA.  In 2009, ChocoVivo’s journey began at one farmer’s market stand stone-grinding cacao nibs from bean-to-bar. Fourteen years later, they’ve changed lives and contributed positively to the community and evolved with the mantra “Simple is Better”.  Today they offer tastings, tours and a variety of high quality chocolate for sale. 


The 1934 Cosmo, Gin martini, Old fashioned, Sidecar, Manhattan.  They offer all the classic cocktails and more!

The BTL SVC family of cocktails are a symbol of craftsmanship and passion. Made with only the finest ingredients, each one is as unique as the individual


Tikkun Holistic Spa

All lucky guests found a celebrity favorite, Tikkun Holistic Spa,  pass on their seats

Aqua Hydrate Water

The performance water is formulated for people with or seeking an active lifestyle. AQUAhydrate offers superior hydration without sugar or calories.

Parch Agave Cocktail

Taking a break from alcohol?  This tasty mocktail is your answer.  A citrus and bittersweet cocktail that showcases the lively pairing of Organic Blue Weber Agave, Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit, Grapefruit & Orange Bitters


Fritz Coleman’s Show Extended: “UnAssisted Living” on live at NoHo’s El Portal thru May, on TubiTV

Fritz Coleman’s Show Extended: “UnAssisted Living” on live at NoHo’s El Portal thru May, on TubiTV

LA Legendary newscaster Fritz Coleman extends his show “Unassisted Living” at North Hollywood’s El Portal Theater.  Today we talk with Fritz about comedy during “cancel culture”, performing clean and his comedy special playing on

Below is edited for length and clarity.  To see the full conversation, visit FlavRReport YouTube Channel

Today we have a returning guest.  Fritz Coleman, thank you so much for coming back again

Fritz Coleman: I am honored to be back. It’s so rare to be invited back anywhere and you’re a gentleman.

Joe Winger: Last time it was very diverse. Because I’m a comedy geek, and I love live comedy. I really want to dive deep with you this time. 

So the show is called Unassisted Living. It’s taped live at the El Puerto Theater, shown on

Fritz Coleman: Tubi is a free streaming service. It’s like Hulu. It’s an advertiser supported streaming service. There are very few ads at beginning and in the end, but I’m just happy to have it there.

We appealed to Tubi by saying that there are a lot of Netflix and Amazon prime comedy specials, but very few geared to the demographic that I talk to, which is, as I say, old people and their parents. 

We thought that it would be fun for boomers and above just talking about the common experiences of aging and having grandchildren and how do we survive the pandemic and all that.  We seem to have found an audience for this. We’re just having a blast. I love that.

What’s Live Comedy like after the Pandemic?

Joe Winger: You’ve mentioned a few times in public about how it’s funny to go back to a regular comedy routine after the pandemic. What’s changed the most?

Fritz Coleman: That’s a great question. I would say a couple of things have changed. Some good, some bad. I think, and I don’t know that this has anything to do with a pandemic. It has to do with a cultural divide in America. The difference in opinions and how prickly and protective people are about their own opinions.

Things have gotten very politically correct. Now I don’t do political humor. I don’t even do current events humor, really. And there’s a selfish reason for that. 

First of all, the shelf life of current events material is very short and second of all nobody’s going to do it better than Bill Maher or Stephen Colbert or Jimmy Kimmel. 

Third of all, it’s just a time where people are so hypersensitive about everything you don’t even have to do a punchline about Donald Trump or anything related to that.

You can just say the word in the setup and be booed.  You get it from the audience.  So I want to avoid that.

The good aspect of what has changed in comedy

Truthfully now the good aspect of what has changed is I don’t think there’s been a time in recent history when comedy has been more important because there’s a kind of a malaise.

There’s a sort of a mild national depression again, it’s the cultural divide. It might be a post pandemic PTSD kind of thing, people just want to be taken out of their heads.  So what I do is get up there and talk about the common experience of getting old and just the common experience of American life for people my age. 

If you connect with them and they recognize what you’re talking about and they laugh, it’s very cathartic for them.

For that one hour and 15 minutes, you’ve taken them out of their heads. You’ve made them forget that things are not perfect in the world. And I think it’s very therapeutic. So from that respect it’s a good time right now for standup, but it’s also a time when it’s fraught with landmines.


Joe Winger: I want to go a little more into detail on TubiTV, what it’s like to shoot a show. Obviously in the 1980s and 1990s, HBO and Comedy Central did a lot of live comedy. I should say live to tape, it’s not actually live. Now Netflix has become so incredibly popular. 

Tell us how to access and see the show. So what’s it like both starring in the show, producing the show, and what does it actually take to make the show happen?

Fritz Coleman: I have a favorite theater in Southern California called the El Portal Theater in North Hollywood. I have a residency there through May now. 

We’ve just been extended for the second time. Once a month, I do a show there. And within the El Portal, it’s a very iconic Southern California performing venue, hey have a smaller theater called the Marilyn Monroe Forum. It’s a 100 seat theater. It’s a semi-circular. It’s a half theater in the round. 

I chose this venue for a couple of reasons. First of all, I like the intimacy of it. I like to walk up and look into people’s eyes and see their reaction.

It becomes more of a conversation than a performance. I saw this venue on Hacks, which is a great show about stand up starring Jean Smart. I don’t like shows about stand-up mainly, I’m too 

They did one of their episodes where they wanted to shoot her in a more cocktail table environment. They shot an episode in this theater where they had six or seven cocktail tables in front. Overhead cameras and lighting, beautiful lighting. 

I thought that’s where I want to do my show.  That’s exactly how I want it to look. It’s not a big, broad performance where you’re strutting the stage like Chappelle or any of those guys. 

So I taped it there and it felt really good. 

When you  [produce the show] yourself. You hire a producer and a director and I did that and trusted that they would bring my vision to light.  We had a great show, we took one Sunday afternoon to tape two shows, 3pm and 7pm and then we cut the best of the two together and presented the final product to all the streamers.

We had some interest from First World Digital which is the digital content arm of A24.  Then got interest from Tubi. 

So we had to find a streamer that thought it was important for us to appeal to boomers and adults.

It works so well that I got a residency at this theater, meaning once a month I do a show there and we just got extended for the second time.

We will be there once a month through May and It’s fantastic. I’m at a stage in my life where I’m not looking to have national fame.  I just love the work. I love to do local theaters and clubs and whoever will have me now. And it’s been a blast.

Joe Winger: You seem so incredibly comfortable on camera. You’ve mentioned in the press, the daily grind that was your day job. What I’m wondering about is what’s your process like building up your show?

Fritz Coleman: It’s your daily job. There are two guys that had a spectacular work ethic in our business. One was George Carlin, who wrote for hours every day, and Jerry Seinfeld, who would discipline himself to write for a couple hours every day.

Even if you don’t have anything ruminating in your mind, you have to write every day. You have to discipline yourself to sit in front of that page and write. Something will happen. And you have to do it, and it’s a grind. And all writing can be lonely and laborious and not productive, but you have to do it.

And then you have to try it. But I think one out of ten concepts or jokes or bits that you come up with,  ultimately make it into your long act 

Larry Miller, one of the great stand ups, a great friend of Seinfeld said, “Building a stand up act is like operating a moonshine still. You get one drip at a time and it takes forever.” 

And it really does.  The beauty of not having my job and I had the fortune of having an astonishingly wonderful job at NBC Los Angeles for 40 years. I was their main weekday weather guy.

But I did 12 hours a day there. Then I would write, then I would do shows between the early and late news and come back. But now that I’m retired from that job, I can discipline myself to write every morning. I can concentrate on the quality of my shows.  I have this Residency, which allows me to do new blocks of material every time.

So more than any other time in my career, my set is expanding more quickly. It requires discipline and it just requires sticking to it.


Joe Winger:  Jerry Seinfeld is famously not blue.  But other names, George Carlin,  Richard Pryor, Robert Klein are certainly more aggressive 

In your own words, you’re famously “squeaky clean”.   Is that a deliberate choice on your part?  What are the advantages, disadvantages to that?

Fritz Coleman: There are both advantages and disadvantages.  I’m clean for two reasons. When I first started in comedy, when I came out here in 1980 to Los Angeles to do stand up, and you were auditioning to go on the talk shows, Carson, Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore, whoever’s talk shows you were doing, you had to be clean.

And when you were working in the [comedy club] rooms, you had to be clean, even if you weren’t auditioning for the talent coordinators on their shows, because if they were in the room watching somebody else and saw you be blue or really edgy on stage, it would be impossible to get their attention because they were afraid for their own job.

So you had to work clean. 

So I just disciplined myself into that. The second reason why clean is important is because you will get more very lucrative corporate work, if you’re clean.  If IBM has a conference in Las Vegas and they’re looking for somebody to entertain their 10, 000 person mid-level-management convention, you have to be squeaky clean.

You can’t even do double entendres and many times they’ll want to parse your act before you even do it. It’s better business to work clean. 

Third of all,  I’m in my seventies and  people my age appreciate a cleaner act. 

That was another thing we pitched to Tubi. I’m Dave Chappelle’s biggest fan, Chris Rock’s biggest fan, but there are people my age that just wince at some of the language and stuff.

I don’t want them to be uncomfortable. I’m not here like Richard Pryor was or George Carlin was to challenge the First Amendment. I’m not there to push the boundaries. Honest to God, I just want to make people laugh and smile and have a good time and feel better for one hour.

Joe Winger: When you’re out and about at these shows, you meet younger comics who might be asking you for advice. Is there any common advice you give to young performers or performers newer to the industry?

Fritz Coleman:  Yeah, be true to yourself. Find who you are.

You’ll always start out copying somebody else. When I started out, I was copying, and sometimes you do it subconsciously. I was copying Robert Klein and his beautiful stage presentation, and George Carlin and his writing skills. 

Then after a while, you’ll find out what makes you unique and you’ll write to that and find yourself.  Stick to that and don’t quit. 

It can be a ruthless business to try to get a foothold in, but don’t quit. The longer you go and discipline yourself to, to writing and being true to your character, people can sense phoniness from a mile away. 

Just be true to yourself. And that’s what people resonate with.

Fritz Coleman’s comedy show “Unassisted Living” has been extended at North Hollywood’s El Portal through May 2024.  Find tix and schedule here.

Find Fritz Coleman’s comedy special “Unassisted Living” on TubiTv.


This Holiday Fresh Victor brings Flavor to your Organic Favorite Cocktails and Mocktails

Holidays 2023: Fresh Victor Puts the the drinker in charge with Fresh, Organic and Full Flavor Mixers.

Fresh Victor is how you make fast, delicious craft cocktails and amazing mocktails — Every. Single. Time. 

Fresh Victor is a line of premium mixers for consistently delicious and efficient cocktails (and mocktails too.)

H. Ehrmann knows his cocktails

H. Ehrmann is a bartender and drinks industry consultant who runs Elixir, one of the most influential bars in San Francisco.  In the industry for 35 years, owned a bar for 20 years. 

Recently he hosted a virtual mixer walking us through several cocktails using Fresh Victor as the mixer: from non-alcoholic, to low alc, to full alcoholic.

Cold-pressed juice-based cocktail mixers. They have added sugar, either organic cane sugar or agave nectar used to balance out citrus levels to hit the intended brix level for most cocktails.

Holidays 2023: Fresh Victor creates Fast, Delicious Craft Cocktails

For example, with the Lemon Sour, the base is known as a pretty simple flavor profile.  You can add another layer of flavor complexity (like a liqueur).  But the Fresh Victor mixer was designed to have more depth, a bit more bitterness to handle any additional sweetness added. 

Fresh Victor +1 or +2

All of the Fresh Victor bottles are designed to make delicious cocktails, but simply and easier.  How?  The amount of cocktails that can be made by adding just 1 or 2 ingredients plus the Fresh Victor mixer.

+1 is agave and tequila.  Lemon Sour and whiskey. 

+2 might be carbonation, frothing, aromatics, like:  tonic, soda water, champagne, egg white, bitters.

Fresh Victor creates Fast, Delicious Craft Cocktails


“2-3 pours and a lot of flavor”

H. Ehrmann

With those 3 elements and Fresh Victor’s 9 flavors, you can end up with dozens of drinks.  From classics, to a spin-off of a classics (including mocktails).

Mixing ratios: 1: 1 and 2: 1.  

1 1 / 2  oz of spirit to 2 ounces of mixer

2 oz of spirit to 2 ounces of mixer

If the drinker likes the taste of the alcohol, they want that taste to “punch” through, then then 2:2 is better for them.  If they want the flavor sweeter, iding behind the mixer, 2:1 is the answer for them.

Fresh Victor is a mixer, not a juice.  So it’s meant to take on dilution as you build your cocktail. Right out of the bottle, it’s a bit more concentrated, more dense.  Meant to be stirred, shaken, reduced down without watering down the flavor.   It can dilute 15-20% without losing quality. 

Using Fresh Victor, you can create a 32 oz, 64 oz or a gallon punch bowl for a holiday party in less than 5 minutes.  And it’s not a simple, lame flavor.  It’s complex.

Orchard Bliss Royale

Non-alcoholic.  When you add Champagne or Sparkling, it’s called “Royale” and today’s drink is adding Sparkling Cider.  

4 oz sparkling cider

2 oz Fresh Victor (Three Citrus and Mint Leaf)

Garnish with dehydrated apple slices

The nose is refreshing. Vibrant apple.  Effervescent on the palate, from the Sparkling. A balance of lemon, lime, orange.  Plump, but not overwhelming.  Mint notes that bring a tertiary element.

Suggestions include playing with adding a shot of vodka, rum or tequila, any of which would work well.

Fresh Victor mixers give a fruit-forward base that makes it easy to play and experiment with.

Winter Spice Tonic

“When mixed well, Gin impacts the overall character of your drink, but doesn’t get in your face”.

1 oz Tanqueray london dry gin

1 Oz Fresh Victor (Cactus Pomegranate)

4 oz Fever Tree Tonic

Aromatic bitters

Garnish with vanilla bean, All-spice berries, Dehydrated Lemon

The nose is immediately the charming, floral aromatics you’d expect from the gin.  Then slowly the baking spices express themselves.  Deep character layers and complexity.  A gush of tonic, then lingering vanilla and lemon.  

Definitely a gin drink for someone who’s not a gin fan as it showcases the best of gin without being overwhelming.

H. Ehrmann with the Fresh Victor Winter Spice Tonic

H. Ehrmann with the Fresh Victor Winter Spice Tonic

Love a standard gin drink?  Try Gin and Tonic with Fresh Victor’s Cucumber and Lime!

H. Ehrmann feels one the the reasons Fresh Victor is so popular is because people want to be able to make easy drinks at home that still have amazing flavor.

“I’ve taught cocktail classes for over ten years.  As much as students love it and geek out over cocktail details at the bar.  When they get home to their kitchen, they still prefer to have something easy.  That’s a huge part of when Fresh Victor is.”

One of the keys to Fresh Victor is adaptability.  The drinks are scalable and easy to experiment with.  Having more guests than expected?  Want stronger drinks?  No alc of low-alc drinks?

“The 2 things that show us down when drinking cocktails, alcoholic strength and bitterness.  Those are things that help us drag a cocktail out 10-20 minutes. Like, intentional speed bumps to keep you from drinking too fast.  So removing the alcohol from a recipe, removes that speed bump.  Adding more bitters, adds it back.  It helps a non-alco drink feel more like a cocktail.”

How did Fresh Victor launch and grow during the struggles of the pandemic?  Luck, hardwork and finding an audience that wants flavor.  H. Ehrmann explains: 

“Just before Covid, we decided to focus Fresh Victor on bars and restaurants.  So Covid hits.  We decided to re-package into a 16 oz bottle.  Within 6 weeks we had these bottles available in 7 states direct to consumer. Within 2 months, we had 48 states direct to consumer.  I shifted to selling cocktail kits from home and Fresh Victor was the perfect partner for me.  Take a liter of tequila and a 64 oz bottle of Mexican lime and agave, you can make 32 margaritas.  I was selling those kits like crazy.  People were re-ordering every other day.”

Figtorious Celebrations

2 oz of Fresh Victor (grapefruit and sea salt)

2 oz VSOP brandy

1 / 2 oz fig syrup

Try thinking of Fresh Victor less as a mixer or a juice and more as an ingredient.  Think of it as an ingredient where you can use as much or as little as you want to make a more complex drink.

Explore from a culinary point of view.  What other flavors mix?

Fresh Victor is all about experimenting.  Trying different flavors.  Adding spirits, garnishes and mixers that might not be traditional.

“All the ways you can use Fresh Vector.  I went through the lexicon of cocktails.  What can I make with lemon sour?  What can I make with Mexican Agave? Then I’d look at more unique flavor profile and ask myself what can I make with that?”

H. Ehrmann with the Fresh Victor Figtorious Celebrations

H. Ehrmann with the Fresh Victor Figtorious Celebrations


Fresh Victor Holidays Flavors

H. Ehrmann suggests a twist this cold, holiday season.  Think like a Hot Toddy. Simply warm up your Whiskey Sour, Lemon Drop, even your sangria.  Anything that would normally go with ice, this time heat it up warm and toasty.


Winner! Hank’s & Executive Chef Isaias Peña as Second Consecutive Win for “BEST BURGER”

Winner! Hank’s & Executive Chef Isaias Peña as Second Consecutive Win for “BEST BURGER”

Hank’s & Executive Chef Isaias Peña Celebrate Second Consecutive Win as “BEST BURGER” in Los Angeles Times’ “Best of the Southland 2023!

In a delectable triumph of culinary excellence, Hank’s Restaurant at Palisades Village has clinched the coveted title of “BEST BURGER” in the Los Angeles Times’ “Best of the Southland 2023” Readers’ Choice Poll for the second year in a row.

The man behind this phenomenal burger, Executive Chef Isaias Peña, and his team at Hank’s have reason to celebrate, and it’s a victory well-deserved!

Executive Chef Isaias Peña - Photos Courtesy of Hank’s

Executive Chef Isaias Peña – Photos Courtesy of Hank’s

Hank’s, named in honor of Owner Rick Caruso’s father Hank is located at Palisades Village in the Pacific Palisades and was created to offer guests elevated American classics, handcrafted cocktails, draft and bottle craft beers and premium wines served by Coravin offering something for everyone.

Photos Courtesy of Hank’s

Photos Courtesy of Hank’s

Executive Chef Isaiah Peña’s Hank’s Single and Double Diamond Burger is a perfect elevated beef blend of wagyu, brisket and short rib accompanied with Tillamook cheddar, caramelized onions, butter lettuce, Roma tomatoes and Hank’s special sauce on potato bun. To celebrate this exciting honor Chef Peña will be offering a Hank’s “BEST BURGER” Special which will include a Hank’s Single or Double Diamond Burger, Choice of Side (Fries, Onion Rings, or Salad), and Beverage (Wine, Draft Beer, or Non-Alcoholic Drink) for $25.00 per person all throughout the month of November 2023.

“The Hank’s Team and I are honored to receive this award for the 2nd year in a row and many, many thanks to everyone that voted,” says Peña.

“We take great pride in the making of our burgers at Hank’s, and we also have a new menu that has something for everyone featuring steaks, seafood, and a selection of small and shared plates, along with our new cocktail list, so we invite you all to come enjoy!”

Hank’s is open every Monday through Thursday from 11:30 am to 9:00 pm, every Friday from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm, every Saturday from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm, and every Sunday from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. For more information about Hank’s or to make reservations, please call 424.363.7166 directly or visit

Follow Hank’s on Social Media:

Follow Hank’s on Facebook @HanksPalisades and Instagram @hankspalisades


1033 N. Swarthmore Avenue
Pacific Palisades, CA 90722
T: 424.363.7166


Legendary Restauranteur Joseph Costanzo Jr. Serves Full Menu in Memoir with “On The Rocks”

Legendary Pittsburgh Restauranteur Joseph Costanzo Jr. Reveals all in his Tasty Memoir with “On The Rocks”

On the Rocks chronicles the real-life journey of restaurateur Joseph Costanzo Jr., from his rise to success in the 1990s as a owner of the highly acclaimed Primadonna Restaurant, radio host, columnist, and aspiring politician to his sharp fall in the early 2000s, ending in an investigation and a stint in federal prison.

Costanzo is a complex character, whom readers will admire for his confidence and rebuke for his arrogance, will love for his generosity and despise for his egotism, and will learn from in both his attention to detail and lack thereof.

This driven, not-your-average-Joe is an unforgettable character who achieves the seemingly impossible but can’t help getting in his own way. Come along with Joe for a bumpy ride on the rocks

On the Rocks: The Primadonna Story, co-written by Maria C. Palmer and Ruthie Robbins is available now on Amazon,, Walmart, Target.  Signed copies at the Heinz History Center. Also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Today, we’re having a conversation with all three: Joseph Costanzo Jr., co-writers Maria C. Palmer and Ruthie Robbins.

The conversation has been edited for clarity and length.  Find the un-edited conversation on our FlavRReport YouTube channel.

Something that I find amazing, this book has been 17 years in the process. Is that an accurate piece of trivia?

Maria C. Palmer: 100%. Yes, that is a very accurate piece of trivia.

So way back 17 years ago, what sparked this for you?

Maria C. Palmer: A couple of things. I think that because the restaurant was such a significant part of our lives, and it was always the highlight of my father’s life. Once it went away, the spark kind of went away, too. And I wanted to bring that back in my Dad. So I started asking him lots of questions about his life. Specifically for a family history. At the time, being a writer myself, in addition to grant writing, I’m also a writer and I can really spot a good story that has commercial value.

On The Rocks co-author Maria C. Palmer

On The Rocks co-author Maria C. Palmer

There were just so many wonderful elements to his story. So I started recording some vignettes of different things that had happened throughout his life. But not really knowing and or intending at the time that it would be a book. 

But as we went on, I saw that the potential was there and I was lucky enough to still be in contact with my former teacher, Ruthie Dines Robbins and brought the project to her and asked her if she would be willing to work on it with me.

It was really from there that we decided it would become a book and that we would work together diligently for probably 10 years together.

Ruthie Robbins: I’m only 7 years.

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: They had it in Maria’s voice originally. Ruthie was in a book club and they said, “Put it in Joe’s voice and they had to go back and change the whole book.”  I watched 11, 000 emails back and forth. 

Ruthie Robbins: We were not primarily emailing. We were mostly talking and texting, and that year was the pandemic year. So I was off teaching that winter and the following fall.


Before we get into the restaurant itself, what was the writing process like?

Maria C. Palmer: I can speak to the family history and just the overall process of it. It was really challenging. Because whenever you’re writing a memoir or a biography, You’re not writing a Wikipedia page. So it’s not from the time somebody is born until the time that they pass away.

You’re picking the most poignant time in their lives. Not only cherry picking all the good things that happened during that time period, but you’re picking some of the challenges too, because that’s what makes a good story. 

It was challenging to figure out what the storyline was going to be and sometimes to tell those hard parts of the story.

What was even more challenging, was just the nebulous nature of the publishing industry.  I just thought you wrote a book, it’s on Amazon and then people buy it. And that could not be further from the truth. Query letters.  Polished one page, a 90,000 word manuscript.  A whole book proposal.  An entire business plan of why we’re writing the book and why it’s going to sell into the market. Requiring that much to not even get a thanks,, but just no response whatsoever.

Ruthie Robbins: Totally agree. The writing was not arduous part because Maria and I get along so well.. We’re real partners, but this publishing thing.  We really didn’t understand the process, so it is difficult, and especially in this genre, [competing with] the celebrities and athletes and reality stars who wrote memoirs.  They want a name on the shelf that someone will pick up in a bookstore. 


Mr. Costanzo, one of my favorite parts of this book is the wine mentions.  Tell us your “Pin on the wall” story.

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: Yeah we’re in a tough neighborhood, but we brought in a lot of people outside the area and upscale people,  limos, what have you. 

I had a bus boy and he was a really good worker. He became a server and he came to me after he got the drink order and said, ”what’s a pin on the wall?”

I never heard of a “Pin on the Wall”. So we went to the bartender. He didn’t know either.  We looked it up, nothing. 

So I went out there to ask the customers, so we could make it for them  – and one of the most mortal sins at the Primadonna was making Joe Costanzo look bad – I said, excuse me what’s in a Pin on a Wall and they all started laughing. The guy said, “Pinot Noir.”

They’re laughing at me.  That’s bad. So I went in and I really did a job on this kid.  My wife grabbed me by my tie and pushed me downstairs to my office.

I was in this kid’s face because he really wasn’t real serious about the situation.  If you’re going to be the best at what you’re doing, you can’t be messing up like that.

He ended up being great.  Chris, who was the server, became a maitre’d and a great employee of mine.  He was very loyal. I really went overboard with him and I did feel bad about it. 


Reviews are incredibly important.  The amount of work and effort you put in to get your Four Forks Review. Tell us a little bit about what happened.

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: Because the area was an old steel town which had a reputation of a lot of fighting, a lot of drinking, a lot of drugs, nobody would come into that area to eat.

I knew I needed credibility, and the only way I would get credibility was through the Pittsburgh Post, because the dining critic, Mike Kalina,  who was a syndicated columnist, had tremendous credibility. KDKA TV, Post Gazette, New York Daily News.

For two and a half years, I kept reaching out to him.  This is in a time before cell phones and emails.

But I knew if he comes down and gives us a good review, people from outside the area, from the upscale areas of the city are going to come in.  That’s what happened. 

But he did say to me, “You deserve four, but I’ll only give you three because you’ll never handle the business.” 

That Friday night, June 3rd 1988, he was 100 percent right. People were lined up at the door. I was used to doing 10-15 dinners a night. We did over 200 dinners that night and it was a total joke. People waited two and a half hours. When food came out of the kitchen, people actually applauded. People were begging me to get him a bottle of vodka because they couldn’t get a drink at the bar. 

We were short of service. We were short of bartenders. I made it all work in the next couple of weeks and I hired people.


I don’t want to ruin the upcoming movie or TV series, but when you trimmed it down, how much heartbreak was there in cutting out so many stories?

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: It was very tough. We had a book signing in August. I kept telling people they were in the book, and they were in the draft I read.  But there were final touches that I didn’t see and we lost a lot of names and alot of stories.  So I really felt bad. I found the actual early draft and sent copies to those people.  This should be in a book, but it will be in the movie, I guarantee you.

Ruthie Robbins:  It was so hard. We did a lot of fact checking when we wrote, because memories are so unreliable. We talked to people who were in the original book [draft] and they expected to be more.  And on top of that, you try to end the chapter on a cliffhanger.  When you take out a story that changes the number of pages in the chapter, it changes the pace of the book.  That was a terrible editing challenge.

Maria, what was that like for you as the author and the daughter?

Maria C. Palmer: Originally the book was written partially in my voice and partially in my Dad’s voice. It started chronologically for me in my twenties and [had] flashbacks because the story starts in 1986 and I was very young at that time.  It was confusing and it didn’t work.  Everything that I wrote and all that I put my heart and soul into  was all cut from the book. So now I have another book project that I’m working on.

But I will echo what my father and Ruthie said. It was hard because everybody did have a significant piece to the Primadonna story.  


Mr. Costanza, it would be an easy assumption to say you’ve lived a big life. Are there one or two things you would have done differently in the stories of the book now looking back on them?

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: Sure. When you are hitting all home runs, you tend to believe that everything that you do is gonna be a home run.  I had the most popular restaurant in Western Pennsylvania. Maybe I’m going to do something else, maybe I’ll go into politics.

I spent about $300,000 of my own money to put my name out there. Most people loved Joe Costanzo, but now when you get into politics it’s not that way. So that was probably my biggest regret.

My wife begged me not to do it. She said, Joe, we have a miracle here and you’re going to try for another miracle. And she was right. You may or may not like Joe Costanzo when you read the book, but you will love Donna Costanzo.

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: And that’s bottom line. Everybody says the same thing. Joe, it was great. What he did is impossible, but his wife was a saint for putting up with all this stuff that a restaurateur has to go through. 

The theme of hospitality comes out in the book, but you so clearly love people.  What has it been like getting all these people’s responses to this story?

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: This has been unbelievable for me. People are very happy that this all happened this way.  I treated people really well and people wanted to reciprocate.  So exhilarating to me. My life has been very boring, but now it’s really gotten to the point where it’s been great thanks to Maria and Ruthie.

Ruthie Robbins: It’s heartwarming. Especially from former students, the outpouring has brought me to tears sometimes.  It’s reconnecting with people over the book. That has really been so wonderful

Maria C. Palmer: This has been such a 17 year journey. I always believed that there was something special about this story.  Seeing that exactly what I felt in my gut for 17 years is actually playing out in real life.

Whenever we’re in Pittsburgh, it is almost surreal because people are talking about “On The Rocks and it’s really cool and crazy to know that something that you created means so much for people.

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: The big thing which is amazing to me is that the book came out August 8th, 2023. For two weeks, the book was the number one bestselling ebook on Amazon for culinary memoirs. Ahead of Anthony Bourdain’s, Kitchen Confidential and Stanley Tucci’s Taste “On the Rocks” for over two weeks was the number one overall best-selling ebook. Now that’s hard to believe because this was just a Western Pennsylvania thing and Bourdain and Tucci are worldwide known authors and entertainers.

Tell us where we can find the book and all the ways we can keep in touch with this story.

Maria C. Palmer: So the book is really wherever books are sold.  We’re on Amazon,, Walmart, Target. We’re also at most bookstores.   Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Ruthie Robbins: There’s also signed copies at the Heinz History Center

Los Angeles Celebrates Sparkling: French Bloom Delivers Flavor and Elegance without the Boozy Battle – Wine review

French Bloom delivers flavor, elegance and subtlety without the boozy battle. 

You want to celebrate.  You want to “pop the cork”, enjoy the flavor, but you don’t want the after-effects.  The drunkenness.  Certainly not the hangover.  And women?  Of course there needs to be ways to elegantly celebrate even (and especially) during pregnancy.  Imagine a pregnant-friendly wine?

It’s a situation that should have been solved already.  But now it has and with style.  It’s a  subtle, elegant, flavorful answer.

French Bloom Re-Invents the Game 

Now everyone can share “moments of pleasure” as their website mentions.  French Bloom’s organic de-alcoholized chardonnay and pinot noir, alcohol-free French sparkling cuvées combine French tradition with innovation.

French Bloom Co-Founders Maggie Frerejean - Taittinger and Constance Jablonski

French Bloom Co-Founders Maggie Frerejean – Taittinger and Constance Jablonski

The Team Behind French Bloom


Maggie Frerejean – Taittinger and Constance Jablonski bring different and complementary skill sets.  Equally important, they bring the desire for the vision and the motivation for innovation. 

Through their innovative and female-founded brand, French Bloom gives an alternative and inviting drink to those wanting to celebrate elegantly and differently, making the most of the precious moments shared with friends and family.

If the names sound familiar, Constance is a globally-working fashion model you’ve seen representing Estée Lauder and countless luxury brands.  

Maggie is director of the Michelin Guide and married to Rodolphe Frerejean-Taittinger, chief executive of Champagne Frerejean Freres. 

Carl Héline, the former head of Champagne Krug, joined French Bloom. 

Let’s Taste French Bloom

Le Rosé 

Pale pink in the glass.  Rose petals, freshly picked red currant, raspberry aromas on the nose.  Indulgent white peach notes on the palate. Elegant. The organic French grapes give a nice acidity.  Well-balanced complexity of minerality and freshness.  Tartness and a rounded balance on the finish.

Certified Vegan- Organic- Halal
0.0% Alcohol
Low Calorie
No preservatives
No sugar added, 4,2g/ 100ml

A blend of de-alcoholized organic French Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, organic grape juice, Gensac spring water and natural organic flavors such as lemon. 


French Bloom sparkling Discovery Kit


Le Blanc 

Organic French Bubbly, 0.0% Alcohol

Medium golden amber in the glass. Minerality and pear aromas on the nose, that just keep opening and opening.  Pear, banana, melon, white flowers.  An explosion of complexity on the palate.  As the flavors open, Granny Smith apple, spicy citrus.  A full-bodied mouth with a luxurious, zesty finish that keeps going.

De-alcoholized organic wine, organic grape juice, French sparkling Gensac spring water, organic lemon juice, organic natural flavors.

Certified Vegan- Organic- Halal

0.0% Alcohol


Low Calorie


No preservatives

No sugar added, 5,9g/ 100ml

Learn more:


Celebrate with Style, Health and World-Class Flavor: Jøyus Non-Alcoholic Wines is pouring for you

Celebrate with Style, Health and World-Class Flavor: Jøyus Non-Alcoholic Wines is pouring for you. Not just for #SoberOctober, but its award-winning tastes help you celebrate all year-long.

Jøyus non-alcoholic wines not only taste like wine, but great wine. With the industry awards to prove it. 

Recently I sat down with Jøyus leader Jessica Selander.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  You can find the full, un-edited conversation on our YouTube page.



Can you give us a personal story, maybe that includes the celebration of wine, if you have one?

Jessica Selander: The story is very personal and the funny thing is I get so nervous before talking about things because when I started Joyus, I did not originally [think about] doing things like this, being so face forward. 

I thought I would create a product that I was really excited about.  Eventually I came to realize, how do I do that without telling the “why did I do it?”

The whole reason that Joyus exists and it influences everything I do is because I’m sober.  I quit drinking alcohol 17 years ago now, which just feels like a fantastical amount of time.

For me, it’s been very rewarding. I’m very glad about it. But it was definitely something that was really hard and very personal. It wasn’t something I shared about publicly. So that’s also why this is a journey of getting comfortable talking about my sobriety, my recovery.

I like the taste of wine. I like beautiful glasses. I like the smell of wine.  I love the community and people; and hanging out and celebrating.  It literally says ’let’s celebrate’ on our bottles.  How great sparkling is for summer, but sparkling is such a happy thing.

You know what I mean? Something good happens in your life and people are like, let’s celebrate. Let’s pop some bottles. New Year’s Eve is such a beautiful idea of let’s start over. Whatever happened last year, whatever terrible things went down, there’s a brand new year.

It’s a new idea that we can celebrate either that past year that was good or celebrate the potential of a new year. That’s going to be better and that’s sparkling. 

And for me, I didn’t have any options. 

I started Joyus nine years ago. People ask me how long the company’s been around and we launched about two years ago. So it took me a very long time to figure it out, to save up the money to do it because as you can imagine, nine years ago, people thought it was crazy.

They’re like, ‘That’s a terrible idea. Nobody wants that’. And I’m like ’I want it’.

Having quit drinking, I had a lot of friends that also didn’t drink. I had a lot of people in my life too, who were just light drinkers – could give or take alcohol.  Then I have two kids and there’s a huge percent of the population that quits drinking for nine months [because they’re pregnant], sometimes even longer.

You can get into medications, you’re not supposed to drink on it. Anxiety medication, not supposed to drink on it. Heart medication, cancer treatments. There’s a lot of medical stuff too, that you could go down the list.

So I get a lot of people now who are like, ‘Oh, it’s not alcoholic. It’s trending.’ And that’s a thing now. 

Early on in my sobriety, I actually used to drink a lot of soda pop out of glass bottles, and then eventually discovered non alcoholic beer.

Non alcoholic beer is definitely having a really cool movement right now. There’s so many different options for non alcoholic beer, but the beer has always been around. 

I was like, this exists and it tastes like beer. What’s up with non-alcoholic wine?

There was one sparkling [non-alcoholic wine] in the entire country and that’s all you could find. There was one white and there was one red and that was it.

For me these options were really sweet. They were very affordable, which is nice, but they didn’t have the complete experience that I was going for. I wanted non alcoholic wine that tastes like wine. 

I wanted something that I could bring to a gathering and bring to a get together and have it feel appropriate and look appropriate and just look like everybody else’s [alcoholic] bottles.  Smell like everyone else’s bottles that you just wouldn’t even know that it was non alcoholic until you saw it on the label. And that’s what I did.

So after trying to find it for forever, eventually I was like, I’m going to do it myself. And I had no idea that this whole sober curious, non alcoholic world would take off like it has at exactly the right time.

So part of me is very frustrated that it took so long. But part of that too, it was like saving up the money to start the company.

This is a bootstrap company.  I like making my own decisions. A side effect after getting to this point is I’m 100% in control of all the decisions, which also means that I can control the quality because [it] is incredibly expensive to make.


Let’s talk about your sober story.  What it means to you, how you got there, what your mission is, how that helps others.


Jessica Selander: So for me, I can’t drink alcohol. What happens when I put alcohol in my body is that I make decisions I don’t want to be making.  

I tried a lot of things. I tried cutting back and it didn’t work. I tried replacing [the drinks and that didn’t work].

My life became pretty chaotic. 

I stopped drinking and once I get my life in order, then everything will be fine. I can drink again. 

Then after not drinking for a period of time, I was like, Oh, you know what?  There’s actually something to this and it’s something deeper and it’s probably the best thing I ever did, honestly, in my life. 

I would not be the person I am today on the inside if I had kept drinking.

I have a wonderful spouse and I’ve got amazing kids and I’m able to be a parent and be a person and do that clear eyed and there’s a lot of my upbringing was not the most positive. 

Sober curious, it’s a hashtag now. 

I’m not saying alcohol shouldn’t exist. I’m not that kind of person whatsoever. 

On a personal level it is so exciting to see other brands pop up. The first time I tried non-alcoholic tequila, it blew my mind. It was amazing. The spirits are interesting because some people build it up from science and some people are de-alkalizing; taking the alcohol out.

So that’s the really interesting thing about this. Normally spirits are completely separate from wine, which are very separate from beer, but in non-alcoholic, we’re all in the same swimming pool and everybody’s doing it differently and everybody’s got their own take and you can try one non-alcoholic whiskey and it’s incredibly different from another one.

Community not competition is one of our core values.  Normalizing non drinking is a big one. It’s not necessarily replacing alcohol either. I’ve talked to people in the wine industry who are very offended by the idea of non alcoholic wine.  I’m like no, it’s backwards. You’ve got it backwards. Non-alcoholic wine is a love letter to wine. You love wine so much that you still want to have it. You just can’t have this one piece that’s in it [the alcohol], but I want everything else. 

I want to cheers that glass with other people. I want to drink that red with a really strong stinky cheese. I want to pop that celebratory cork. I want to Rose all day. I just can’t.

I think that wine is very important culturally. It’s so interesting historically. The process is this fascinating mix of art and science.  I love everything about it. Getting deeper and deeper into it too, because I want Joyus to be around for forever and I want to make the best possible non-alcoholic wine.

There’s so much stuff to perfect that I could spend the next 50 years just working on non-alcoholic red – period.


You mentioned you’re seeing other competitors in the marketplace. How many different ways are there to make non-alcoholic wine?  Are some ways higher quality than others?


Jessica Selander: I can give tips. Our wine is a dealcoholized or alcohol removed wine, which means it’s gone through the whole winemaking process.

It’s aged, it’s fermented, and then we have removed the alcohol from it. Our bottles also say it’s non alcoholic. Sometimes you’ll see a bottle in the store and it just says non alcoholic on it. It doesn’t say dealcoholized or alcohol removed. They’re interchangeable. That means it wasn’t fermented.

So if you’re looking for a wine that is really going to taste like wine or have that fermented taste, look for dealcoholized or alcohol removed.

[Look at the label on the bottle] look for dealcoholized or alcohol removed, because it could say that it’s a non alcoholic red or a non-alcoholic grape [varietal] and it might just be a juice, that hasn’t been fermented or ages but comes in a wine bottle.


What are your goals in the present moment and in the near future to help your company continue to be a leader in the industry?


Jessica Selander: I think goals are accessibility. Normalizing sober drinking.  Making [non-alcoholic bottles] easy to find.  We do ship off our website, which is great. We’re shipping from Seattle. We ship everything ourselves.  If you’re out East, it’s going to take four or five days to get to you. 

Also starting to talk to restaurants, getting into more restaurants is a big one.  I’ve had anniversary dinners with my spouse and I’m drinking an Arnold Palmer.

I’m calling restaurants and I’m calling grocery stores and they’re still really skeptical that it can be good and that people want it.


Do you think it’s just audience reaching out? Is there a tipping point?


Jessica Selander: Yes, that really helps having people being in a restaurant and saying, “Hey, what do you have that’s an alcoholic?” Because restaurants are saying nobody’s asking for it. 

Here I am double digit sober and I had never gone into a restaurant and asked for it.

I would look at the [menu’s] non alcoholic section, which is always juice, soda pop, iced tea and stuff. If it’s not on the menu, I would never ask them for anything. Here I am for over a decade, not telling them that I want this thing. So we started doing more education on social media and online.

If you walk into a restaurant, ask them “What do you have that’s not alcoholic?”

Just pregnant people alone. There’s a large percentage of the population.

Is there science that says a pregnant woman can drink this and have zero concerns?


Jessica Selander: Yes. So this is super interesting. In the United States we’re the most strict in terms of alcohol. If you go to the UK, they have different, actually higher limits for how much alcohol can be in something. The US’s rules come from prohibition when you can’t sell, make, transport alcohol.

The government said once it gets under 0.5%, it’s not alcohol anymore. So that’s where that number comes from and sometimes people see it and say, “Oh, there’s a little bit of alcohol in this.” 

There was a study done in Germany where they tested a lot of grocery store items.  What they found was there’s a lot of stuff in our grocery stores that had a little bit of alcohol in it. Very ripe bananas, which we feed to toddlers have some alcohol in them. Orange juice is another one.

American hamburger buns. But it also makes sense, bread, yeast and we have more sugar in our products, right? Bread actually has more alcohol than people realize. 

Let’s talk about your wine’s flavors and aromas and the winemaking process to get there.

Jessica Selander: I knew what I wanted and I was incredibly picky about it. 

We launched with the sparkling white and the sparkling Rose’ and people were asking for a Rose’ with no bubbles.

I thought it would be easy.  It was not easy. 

Stills are very different from sparkling. I’m a balance of “I know what I want. I’m going for this thing and very focused”, but then I’m also balanced with listening. So we do a lot of focus groups. I do want feedback.  I do want opinions. 

We were working on it.  Everyone’s saying it’s good, it’s great.  But I didn’t think it was good enough. We were supposed to launch it in summer and I pushed everything back.  Back to the drawing board. 

What if we did this? What if that?  Talking to people, reading science and chemistry books

Was it like working for the right blend?

Jessica Selander: It’s tweaking so many different things and pieces in the blend. But it doesn’t always work out.  If you tweak a blend, sometimes other notes will come forward that you’re not expecting, or sometimes you’ve diminished things that you didn’t intend to diminish.

The still Rose is a great example, it didn’t have that click and so I just kept working on it. And that’s the one that won Double Gold and Best in Class in the San Francisco International Wine Competition, which is one of the biggest and oldest blind tastings in the world and the biggest and oldest blind tasting in the U.S.


Can you share any details and lessons you learned taking on the world of winemaking?


Jessica Selander: There’s so many things.  We’re not just making wine.  We’re wholesale, we’re distributing, we’re direct to consumer. We have so many different facets. 

I could talk for hours about how our wines are very low in sugar and they don’t have the alcohol in them. So our [bottles] probably freeze easier than anything else on the market. So shipping during the winter.

I’ve had conversations with other non alcoholic people too.  Everybody’s doing it differently and that’s the hard part too, where I feel like there’s a solution for every problem.

We’ve gotten better and better at winter shipping, but it’s not quite there yet.  Figuring out what can we ship in that’s going to have thermal protection, but isn’t going to contribute a ton of garbage. We’ve got the most eco-friendly, innovative winter shippers.  They’re made of corn. 

They’re expensive as hell, but it’s better than styrofoam. We have to keep everything under 50 pounds for UPS and 12 bottles of sparkling is 51 pounds in these corn shippers.

That thermal protection is still not enough, so we added heat packs. 

Let’s talk about your wines.


Jessica Selander: We have four varietals.  We’ve got our sparkling white, a sparkling Rosé. Still Rosé, a Cabernet Sauvignon. I love our red a lot. The reds are hard. They’re the most complicated; red wine has the highest alcohol content to begin with.

What flavor notes should we be looking for?


Jessica Selander: It’s definitely an American Cab. More fruit forward. It’s not grape juice. It’s fermented, it’s aged in American oak so you’ll get some green-ness to, like forest floor.  The longer it’s been open the more tasting notes you’ll get. I like it more and more throughout the week because the fruit notes settle down. Black currant, cherry, some leather 

The still rosé, watermelon, a nice floral to it. 

Sparkling rosé. Slightly floral.  Some orange blossom to it.  Blackberry, but some people say raspberry. Some people say strawberry.  They’re very summery

I think sometimes tasting notes feel in excess because we all taste things very differently. 

Our audience is foodies. Let’s talk a little bit about some of your favorite meals that you think would pair that your favorite pairings with your wines


Jessica Selander: I bake. I come from a big family, so I can pretty much cook anything. 

I heard someone say one time that baking was more science. And cooking was more art and I do agree with that. 

Let’s talk about the wine competitions. How you see them, what the experience has been like, and of course, what their results have been.

Jessica Selander: I did not know that competition was as big of a deal as it is [which was a blessing].  So what happened was I was beating my head against the wall being like, “They taste like wine!”  And my brother said, nobody believes you. You have to enter them into wine competitions. You need to prove to them in their own landscape that you belong there. 

So, here’s this competition. The first one, the sparkling rosé won gold and sparkling white won bronze.

Then I looked deeper into what the competition was [and realized it was the acclaimed San Francisco International Wine Competition & World Spirits Competition ]. It was a blessing because I think I would have been scared to do it. Then [next year] I do it with the Still Rose and the Cab.  Then hearing back, you’ve got the highest a non-alcoholic has ever gotten and you’re Still Rose is the best non-alcoholic wine of any varietal entered from all over the world. 

I was only wondering if it was even going to place, and here it ends up winning the best.

I was at a grocery store [today] I’ve been trying to get into for two years where the head buyer won’t even try it. So it’s [frustrating] but the more of these awards that we stack up, at some point in time they have to not ignore it. They’ll be like, Oh, this is a real thing.

We haven’t [hit that goal], it’s not normalized yet. We’re in over 300 stores and in almost in every state.


If you want more non-alcoholic near you at a restaurant and grocery store, what are the step-by-step, simple direction

Jessica Selander: This is super easy for people.

So if there’s a grocery store or a local market that you shop at already, you just go into the wine department and say, “Hey, what non-alcoholic wine do you have?”  And let them know you want it.  Verbally say it

It’s the same thing in restaurants. I do it myself now too, where I get the menu and I’m not seeing what the stuff on it. And I just ask and say, Hey, what non alcoholic stuff do you have?” 


Tell us how we can learn more about Joyus.  Shopping and following on social media.


Jessica Selander: So all of our social media stuff, our website is Our Facebook, our Instagram, our TikTok are all DrinkJoyus

And on the website, there is this Find Joyus store finder map. So you can look on there and find us closest to you and working hard to add new stores pretty much weekly and email, email us. There’s a contact form on the website. Email. If you’re like, Hey, there’s a store by me. I want them to carry you. Email us. And we will call them and we will try, we’ll do our best and we’ll call them again three months later and we’ll call them again.


Yum! Celebrate Pasadena Flavors on Friday Oct 6 – Pasadena Magazine Presents the Inaugural Taste of Pasadena 2023: A Culinary Extravaganza!

Pasadena Magazine Presents the Inaugural Taste of Pasadena 2023: A Culinary Extravaganza!

Pasadena magazine is thrilled to announce the debut of its highly anticipated culinary event, the Taste of Pasadena 2023!

Taste of Pasadena 2023

Taste of Pasadena 2023

This spectacular inaugural celebration will take place on Friday, October 6th, 2023, at the Pasadena Convention Center Historic Exhibit Hall C, running from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm.

“The Taste of Pasadena is…

an immersive celebration of culinary excellence, culture, and community”

“The Taste of Pasadena is not merely another event; it is an immersive celebration of culinary excellence, culture, and community,” says Malina Saval, Editor-In-Chief for Pasadena magazine.

“This event promises an unforgettable evening of delectable experiences,

featuring unlimited tastings

from top chefs and

renowned restaurants spanning the San Gabriel Valley and beyond.”

Guests can look forward to a wide array of culinary offerings, handcrafted cocktails, live music, and captivating experiences that will engage and delight every guest.

Taste of Pasadena 2023

Taste of Pasadena 2023

Participating Restaurants

Some of this year’s Taste of Pasadena 2023 participating Restaurants include Arth Bar + Kitchen, Cabrera’s Mexican Cuisine, Celestino Ristorante, Champion’s Curry, Engine Co. No. 28, Farina Pizza, Granville, Great Maple, Lunasia Modern Dim Sum & Cuisine, KAVIAR, Pez Cantina, The Luggage Room Pizzeria & La Grande Orange, The Raymond 1886, Santa Anita Park, Twohey’s, and more to be announced.


2023 Desserts include Beard Papa’s Pasadena, Bertha Mae’s Brownie Co., Esther & Olivia BouqCakes, I Like Pike Bakeshop, Marsatta Chocolate, Ms. Rhonda’s Crack-N-Pop, and Nothing Bundt Cakes just to name a few.

Wines being Poured

Wines will be poured by Adobe Road Winery (Sonoma County), Bernardus Winery (Carmel Valley), Bouchaine Vineyards (Carneros Napa Valley), Defiance Vineyard (Paso Robles), The Mill Keeper by Gamble Family Vineyards (Napa Valley), Tercero Wines (Santa Barbara), Vino Los Angeles (Mexico), Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards (Temecula Valley), and more.

Spirits, Cocktails, Beer, Music, and Special Experiences


Spirits, Cocktails, Beer, Music, and Special Experiences courtesy of Acqua Panna, Cerveceria Del Pueblo,Balcones, Corbin Cash Distillery, Casa Azul Tequila, Dough Ball Whiskey, Frey Ranch Farmers + Distillers, Knox & Dobson, Mezcal 33, Old Hillside Bourbon, Rancho La Gloria Tequila, Shelter Distilling, and many more.

Special Partners and Sponsors: AbilityFirst, Pasadena Convention Center, Visit Pasadena, Sodexo Live!,Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, Yelp, and Viva LA.

Pasadena Magazine Presents the Inaugural Taste of Pasadena 2023

Ticket Information:

The inaugural Taste of Pasadena will take place on Friday, October 6th, 2023, at the Pasadena Convention Center Historic Exhibit Hall C from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm and this is a 21+ event.

General ticket prices are $85 ($100 at the door the day of the event). Early Bird Pricing is available for $60 until Friday, September 22nd, 2023.

For more information and to get your tickets today, please visit

LA’s Hottest new Foodie Destination, Westwood’s Wolfsglen, Serves up Fun Dishes and Cocktails

LA’s Hottest new Foodie Destination, Westwood’s Wolfsglen, Serves up Fun Dishes and Cocktails

So much good food!

Mushroom Arancini, Shrimp Toast, Steak Tartare,

Rigatoni Diavola, Cacio e Pepe,

Pan Roasted Pork Chop,

Homemade Peach Pie, Mango Sweet Rice, Deconstructed Strawberry Cheesecake

And drinks!

Razz-Mez-Tazz made of mezcal, mango, spicy bitter, agave and Tajin.

Black Gold prepared with Neft vodka, simply syrup, cucumbers, and activated charcoal

Wolfsglen, Westwood’s premier cocktail and dining destination, features New American cuisine and a hot Cocktail Scene.  They’re getting a lot of rave reviews already!

Located at 1071 Glendon Avenue in Westwood, Wolfsglen is Westwood’s premier cocktail and dining destination featuring New American cuisine with a global Angeleno influence complemented by an array of expertly crafted cocktails.

Inspired by the legacy of John Wolfskill, a former state senator and pioneer rancher who played a pivotal role in the development of the land where Westwood Village now stands, Wolfsglen blends history, culture, and cuisine into a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

Sammy Espinoza - General Manager, Photography by Tonelson

Sammy Espinoza – General Manager, Photography by Tonelson

Quietly opening its doors in November 2022, Wolfsglen is the brainchild of new hospitality team CFO Mark Garcia, Director of Operations Fernanda Hay, General Manager Sammy Espinoza, Chef Fidel Guzman, Sous Chef & Pastry Chef Moriah Castañeda, and Bar Manager Edward Ruiz.

Wolfsglen’s culinary journey begins with Chef Fidel Guzman

Wolfsglen’s culinary journey begins with Chef Fidel Guzman, whose New American seasonal menu embraces global Angeleno flavors, showcasing the finest seasonal and fresh ingredients.

Photography by Tonelson

Photography by Tonelson

Starter Dishes

The To Start features delectable dishes like Brown Butter Labneh, Hummus with chili crisps, Burrata with grilled and flambé peaches, Esquites, Mushroom Arancini, Shrimp Toast, Steak Tartare, Shawarma, and Bone Marrow & Black Garlic, among others.

Photography by Tonelson

Photography by Tonelson

Handmade Pastas

Handmade Pastas take center stage with Chef Fidel’s Rigatoni Diavola, Cacio e Pepe, and Bolognese, each prepared to perfection.

Photography by Tonelson

Photography by Tonelson

Mouthwatering Entrées

The Entrées boast mouthwatering selections such as Pan Roasted Pork Chop with a togarashi-whiskey glaze, Steak Frites, Wolfsglen Burger with candied bacon, spicy aioli, and arugula,Beyond Burger, Roast Chicken with aji verde and pea tendrils, Seared Salmon served with a pineapple ginger glaze and miso potato purée, Seared Striped Bass, and Cauliflower Steak with curry and raisin chutney.

Photography by Tonelson

Photography by Tonelson

Leave room for dessert

Don’t forget to leave room for dessert! Culinary duo, Chef Fidel Guzman and Sous Chef & Pastry Chef Moriah Castañeda present an array of tantalizing options, including Homemade Peach Pie, Mango Sweet Rice, Deconstructed Strawberry Cheesecake, and Ricotta Donuts with blueberry compote and lemon curd.

Photography by Tonelson

Photography by Tonelson

Wolfsglen’s bar program

Wolfsglen’s bar program, originally created by Fernanda Hay, now under the expert guidance of Bar Manager Edward Ruiz, offers a diverse range of perfectly balanced and playful cocktails. Signature creations include the Razz-Mez-Tazz made of mezcal, mango, spicy bitter, agave and Tajin, Purple Rain comprised of gin, blueberry purée, lemon, and butterfly pea flower, Geisha’s Kiss with Masumi sparkling sake, elderflower liqueur, and lychee purée, and Black Gold prepared with Neft vodka, simply syrup, cucumbers, and activated charcoal, with even more to try.

In addition, Wolfsglen also offers specially select White Wine, Red Wine, Rosé, Sparking, and Beer + Cider.

Courtesy of Wolfsglen

Courtesy of Wolfsglen

Wolfsglen’s is the ideal destination

Nestled in a historic two-story building developed in the 1930s, Wolfsglen showcases beautiful high ceilings, modern design, a lush patio for al fresco dining, and private event spaces. It is the ideal destination for lunch, dinner, drinks with friends, intimate gatherings, or special events. With its rich history, elegant ambiance, and mouthwatering cuisine, Wolfsglen promises an unforgettable dining and drinking experience for everyone!

Social Media:  Follow Wolfsglen on Instagram @wolfsglenwestwood

Wolfsglen is open every Sunday and Monday from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm, every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11:30 am to 12:30 am, every Friday from 11:30 am to 1:00 am, and every Saturday from 5:00 pm to 1:00 am.

Wolfsglen offers Howlin Hour every Tuesday through Friday from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm and Late-Night Howlin Hour every Friday and Saturday from 11:00 pm to 12:30 am.

For more information about Wolfsglen or to make reservations, please call 310.208.1071 directly or visit

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