Female-Owned Whiskey Brand by Santa Monica Locals Finds Its Way in L.A. Restaurants

Cassia, Lunetta, Gold-Diggers and Esters Wine Shop Are Among Those Carrying the Brand

By Zach Armstrong

Whiskey is traditionally viewed as a male-oriented drink and, consequently, usually presented with a male aesthetic. This made an idea start brewing for Santa Monica locals Anna Axster and Wendelin Von Schroder (also cousins) to break the mold.

Lodestar Whiskey, launched by the female duo in 2023, blends straight high-rye bourbon and American single malt whiskey to include notes of caramel, citrus and warm baking spice. While the liquor can be purchased online for $45, Angelinos can find Lodestar in restaurants, bars and shops including SurfRider Hotel MaliBU, Cassia, Lunetta, Gold-Diggers, Esters Wine Shop, Local Kitchen & Wine Bar and Roadrunner Spirits.

Anna and Wendelin’s journey to become whiskey entrepreneurs originated during their career in the entertainment, music and film industry. As they traveled around the world, they indulged in various high quality whiskey brands. However, the predominantly male-appeal given off from them was unquestionable. Once Covid-19 brought the entertainment business to a halt, the pair seized the opportunity to pivot to their passions and began creating their own blend of the classic drink.

“We wanted to create something that fits our lifestyle,” said Axster. “Something to consume in versatile ways. Something with different syrup strategies. Something that can be consumed neat or on the rocks. Something that works as a shot and is not too heavy or syrupy. Something that works as a cocktail. Something that steers away from the idea that whiskey has to be high proof.”

Several obstacles and cumbersome experiences were endured by the founders while launching the brand. For example, the licensing process can be more tedious than one might expect. And because whiskey includes an aging process, it’s difficult for entrepreneurs to secure funding to navigate the supply chain. Luckily for Anna and Wendelin, these troubles were untangled with the help of Distill Ventures; an accelerator backed by multinational alcoholic beverage company Diageo whose brands include Guinness, Smirnoff, Baileys liqueur and Captain Morgan rum.

Another barrier to growing a liquor brand is how crowded the space can feel. For Anna and Wendelin, the key is focusing on their own story while staying true to a mission of building and connecting a solid community.

“We set out to create something that would represent the people around us … staying true to that has always been a guide in anything we do.” said Von Schroder. “We’re out there ourselves, meeting bar directors and bartenders and beverage directors in the community and making those connections to figure out how we can support each other.”

For more information or purchases, go to https://www.lodestarwhiskey.com/.

in Dining, News
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