Credit: George Duchannes
Credit: George Duchannes

Meet Racquet Club Spirits, an LGBTQ-Owned Liquor Brand Based in Palm Springs

Shaken or Stirred, Racquet Club Spirits Is Our Summer Go-To!

After being life partners for more than 30 years, Brian Harke and Matthew Winks decided to become partners in business too. “We met in Chicago and lived there for about 11 years and then moved to San Francisco and Los Angeles before finally landing in Palm Springs,” explains Harke. “We’ve had many different careers ranging from advertising and marketing to academia, and once we were ready to branch out and do something on our own, we realized that one thing that always interested us was the process of making liquor.” Racquet Club Spirits Palm Springs

Racquet Club Spirits Palm Springs

Insert: Racquet Club Spirits!

Credit: George Duchannes

Once the idea had sparked, Harke and Winks traveled to Napa, where they spent a lot of time learning the ins and outs of creating hand-crafted spirits. “We started networking with several people in the industry, and everything just sort of fell into place. In addition to meeting the right people, our professional backgrounds also helped us with the business side of things,” says Winks. After finding the perfect distiller in El Dorado Hills, the formulation process began. 

“Most bourbons are really strong, as is vodka, so we wanted to create a formula that would result in very smooth and soft spirits,” says Harke. Even though  Racquet Club Spirits is only a little over a year old, the brand has already won several awards, including Double Gold at the 2022 Sip Awards. In addition to distilling the vodka seven times, it is also filtered through a coconut-based carbon, paying tribute to the iconic palm trees of Palm Springs. On the other hand, the bourbon is unfiltered, allowing all of the natural flavors to remain intact. “We put so much energy and effort into the formulation of our spirits. Our bourbon can be enjoyed straight, and in addition to being super clean, our vodka doesn’t have that unpleasant medicinal aftertaste.” Racquet Club Spirits Palm Springs

Credit: George Duchannes

When it comes to the brand itself, Racquet Club Spirits is innovative, meaningful, and above all else, inclusive. Named after the historic Racquet Club in Palm Springs, Racquet Club Spirits encourages everyone to raise a glass to be themselves. “Back in the 30s and 40s, the Racquet Club was a sort of safe haven for celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Rock Hudson and Lucille Ball. It was still within the two-hour studio rule but far enough away from the paparazzi, allowing these icons to let loose and feel free,” says Harke. Considering Racquet Club Spirits is 100% LGBTQ+ owned and operated, the concept of being free to be oneself is tied heavily to the brand.  Racquet Club Spirits Palm Springs

The brand may be based out of Palm Springs, but it’s widely available across Southern California. “Originally, our goal was to get some good distribution through Palm Springs, but since building credibility by winning awards and blind tastings, we’ve been able to expand and reach more communities and places. Now, we have distributors across SoCal and can even be found in several different restaurants and bars,” explains Harke. 

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Whether you’re a die-hard fan of bourbon and vodka or you’re simply looking for your new favorite nightcap, Racquet Club Spirits caters to every kind of customer. The price point is fair and affordable for most, while the quality and taste remain exclusive. “At the end of the day, it’s not just about putting a label on a bottle; it’s about making really good products,” says Harke. “We’re so proud to have created a 100% LGBTQ+-owned brand that values inclusivity, representation and great liquor.” 

Racquet Club Spirits Palm Springs

Racquet Club Spirits
@racquetclubspirits

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Allie Lebos graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2017 with a BA in Communication. While in school she was a staff writer at The Daily Nexus for nearly two years. Since graduating she has written for The Palisades Magazine, as well as Hidden Hills Magazine. Currently living in Santa Monica, Allie loves to indulge in good food, hot yoga, and daily walks along the beach; writing articles on travel, special events, as well as features on local businesses and individuals.

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