Founded in Montecito, Ysidro is a sophisticated spritz made with super-premium sake and real, organic grapefruit and sea salt. “At the end of the day, we created this drink for us, and think of it as ‘the drink of Montecito,’” says cofounder Monica Epstein (pictured above with, from left, Alex Dessouky and Seth Epstein). “It’s a more satisfying alcoholic drink that captures the coastal lifestyle we know and love.” Here’s a Q&A with Monica about Ysidro, including how it started and where you can find it.
How did Ysidro start?
Ysidro started with a dream I had during the lockdowns of 2020. After attending a virtual wine tasting hosted by our friend, and now co-founder, Alex Dessouky, I dreamed that we worked together to create a new, delicious tonic—one that celebrated mindful Montecito living and reflected the care and intention my friends and I use to buy all of our products. It seemed like a no-brainer: why not apply those same values of wellness, quality, and style to the alcohol we drink?
The next morning, we ran into Alex at Miramar Beach. When I told him about the dream, he said, “Let’s do it!”
What does it taste like?
We wanted a convenient, refreshing, and easy-to-drink alcoholic beverage that’s light enough to drink on a lunch break but sophisticated enough to pair with a delicious dinner. Ysidro opens with a pop of pure, refreshing grapefruit on the nose, and a hint of the floral and fruity character of our super premium sake. The sweetness and tartness of the grapefruit continues at the front of the mouth, and by the mid palate you’ll pick up some subtle salinity from the sea salt and acidity from the grapefruit. The finish is all about the sake—long and subtle with an umami undertone. All in all, Ysidro is fresh, balanced, and complex.
Why did you choose sake?
We wanted a better, cleaner alternative to all the cheap, empty-tasting hard seltzers out there. We found that sake gives just the right amount of complexity, while still making for an incredibly easy-to-drink, light, and refreshing sipping experience. Collagen-building, low-acidity, rich with amino acids—sake is a clean, craft alcohol that’s been around for thousands of years.
And our sake is Junmai Ginjo–grade, extremely high-quality and handcrafted with the help of a master brewer, in small batches made just for Ysidro. Our grapefruit is organically grown, and balanced perfectly with bright notes of sea salt. Ysidro is also sulfite-free, gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO. Bottom line, you’ll be able to taste the quality in every sip.
Where can people try it?
You can go to our website, ysidro.com, to place an order—and we offer free, same-day local delivery in Santa Barbara. We also ship all over the U.S. We’ve found that Ysidro is a great way to share a taste of Montecito with friends and family who live far away.
And our stockists grow almost every day. In Santa Barbara, you can find us at Bettina, Tre Lune, Lucky’s, Merci, the Liquor & Wine Grotto, Montecito Village Grocery, Santa Barbara Company, Satellite, Pierre Lafond Deli, Santa Barbara Gift Baskets, Reunion Kitchen, Milk + Honey, Alcazar, Blue Owl, Llama Dog, and Hook + Press. For our L.A. friends, Ysidro is carried at Gjusta Grocer, Thyme, Sogo Roll Bar, Jones on Third, Farmshop, Wine + Eggs, Gjusta Grocer, Altadena Beverage, and The Proper Hotel. And if you’re up in the Santa Ynez Valley, you can find Ysidro at Los Olivos Grocery, Full of Life Flatbread, El Rancho Market, Hotel Ynez, Alisal Ranch, and New Frontiers. We’re also at Point de Chêne and Tipple & Ramble in Ojai, and Sunburst Wines in Carpinteria, and for our desert friends, Ysidro is now in Palm Springs at both the L’Horizon Resort & Spa and Colony Palms Hotel.
Who did you have in mind when you created Ysidro?
We call Ysidro drinkers “curious tastemakers.” They’re curators of substance. They collect experiences, and they have a worldview that is shaped by travel, food, beauty, and cross-cultural learning. They inspire others to lead lives with an insatiable curiosity. The products they consume are more than just products—they’re gateways into discovering all the best the world has to offer.
How has Ysidro been received?
People love how light and refreshing it is. Our customers see it as not only the perfect party drink, but as something they want in their fridge every day. We see people replacing their brunch mimosas, lunchtime rosé, and pre-dinner cocktails with a can of Ysidro. People have also been loving Ysidro for events; the can looks amazing on a table and is the perfect accessory for any party, picnic, or wedding.
How did you come up with the name and the distinctive pink can?
Seth and I live just a few blocks away from Alex on San Ysidro Road, and San Ysidro also happens to be our exit into Montecito as you drive up from L.A. The can’s color, meanwhile, is inspired by the locally famous “pink moment”—the magical time just before sunset when the Santa Ynez mountains transform with this amazing, soft pink alpenglow. Saint Ysidro, the icon on our can, is the patron saint of farmers, gardeners, and workers. We like to think of him as an early adopter of work/life balance—he loved simple living and valued being present to “what is” over the stresses of everyday life.
Sponsored by Ysidro.