We had the good fortune of connecting with Josh Kornoff and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Josh, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Some people are natural born surfers. Some are natural born musicians. I love to build and to know how stuff works (especially if it’s mechanical). That’s why approaching this new industry wasn’t intimidating to me. I genuinely love figuring out how to build new things. When we started with our 1,400 SF facility, I already knew that I wanted to expand to our current 25,000 SF facility. We just needed to make sure the community would accept us and love our brand like we do! I believe we’ve done that. Our followers are the best. Our artists are the best. And we are just doing our best to continue to combine surf, sun and spirits in everything we do.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The world of craft spirits is certainly full of competition, and we knew we had to break through that. Our idea about commissioning local artists pieces for our bottles started as a celebration of our roots, but quickly grew into this awesome beach culture brand that so many people love and identify strongly with. We’ve heard from many people that they’ve never seen a spirits bottle like ours before, and they had to have it simply because it was so beautiful. It’s exploded, and it all began with celebrating this SoCal culture we all know and love. Each bottle has become a work of art of its own. Beyond the strong brand presence, I have always been one to seek the highest quality of work product I can. And distilling was new to me – so I dove in headfirst and learned all of the science and engineering involved. Plus a few rounds of taste testing… I have to say our process is designed to capture the highest quality of the spirit produced, so our recipes have resulted in some pretty exceptional flavors and combinations. The spirits are masterfully crafted for incomparable flavor and smoothness. We use quality ingredients, traditional methods and bottle each batch by hand.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am an entrepreneur who spent 15 years in Hollywood as a special effects supervisor before starting my own drone design and manufacturing company – quite the difference in companies! After selling Allied Drones, I reinvented myself again to follow my passion and interests in craft distilling. I founded Surf City Still Works in 2017 with my wife Elena. We saw an interesting opportunity open up: California’s new Craft Distillery permit allowed someone like us to compete with large distilled spirits companies by permitting us to have a tasting room and sell (at a limit) our bottles directly to our customers. This historic legislation changed prohibition-era laws for craft distillers to reflect the modern marketplace. So we jumped on it and opened the first craft distillery in Huntington Beach. And in just over three years, we have grown it to be the second largest distillery in SoCal.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The team at Surf City Still Works has two priorities: producing high-quality craft spirits and supporting our local communities. We brought the community into the business through commissioning pieces from local artists to feature on the labels of all our bottles. So now when you walk through your local Total Wine & More, Pavilions or Albertsons, you will see beautiful mosaics, murals, watercolors and more shine through in each of our spirits – they’re so striking, they will stop you in your tracks. Another example of our dedication to the community was the pivot to producing disinfectant at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We received an overwhelming amount of asks from local first responders, frontline workers, hospitals and more for hand sanitizer. We were already making the alcohol, so why not switch up the process to make official FDA and W.H.O.-approved hand sanitizer!? I’m proud of our team and thrilled to report that we produced more than 30,000 gallons of sanitizer, and provided free sanitizer to community members in need.