Sips and Bites: Eau de Vie Pear Brandy

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The event:

While traditional brandy is distilled with grapes and then aged, fruit brandy—or eau de vie, which translates to “water of life”—is distilled with fruits other than grapes, and promptly bottled to preserve the fruit’s aroma and freshness. Join us for an inside look at eau de vie with distillers and UC Davis alumni Brian Keck and Chris Johnson of J.J. Pfister Distilling in Sacramento. We’ll hear about their time at UC Davis, their approach to making a variety of spirits, and taste J.J. Pfister’s Eau de Vie Unaged Pear Brandy, both neat and in a cocktail.


Brian Keck is J.J. Pfister’s master distiller, where he draws on his extensive background in sensory analysis to create premium, organic spirits, including vodka, gin, rum, and brandy, among others. Before joining J.J. Pfister, he worked in the craft brewing and winemaking industries. He holds a Master of Science in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis.

Chris Johnson is a distiller at J.J. Pfister, and has a background in wine production and analysis. Before joining J.J. Pfister, he was an enologist at two premier Napa Valley wineries. He holds a Master of Science in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis.

Laura Bruce is a Sacramento-based bartender who has been active in the Midtown bar scene for five years. She has hosted pop-ups in Manhattan for her craft, as well as traveled to Nashville for extensive training in the whiskey field. She currently works at The Shady Lady Saloon and it’s sister bar, B-Side, and serves as a bar consultant for J.J. Pfister.

Moderator Andrew Waterhouse is a professor in the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, and has previously held the John E. Kinsella Chair in Food, Nutrition, and Health, and the Marvin Sands Endowed Chair in Viticulture and Enology. He has won a UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow award, holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Bordeaux, and he has been named one of the most highly cited researchers in agriculture by ISI. In 2018, he was named the director of the Robert Mondavi Institute. 

The spirit:

We will be tasting J.J. Pfister’s Eau de Vie Unaged Pear Brandy and making a "NorCal Pear Sidecar" cocktail. You can purchase the brandy separately, or as part of a kit with everything you'll need to make the cocktail. Check your email once you register, a discount code for 25% off your order from J.J. Pfister will be in the automated confirmation you receive from Zoom.


This event is part of the Sips and Bites series, which explores the stories behind foods and drinks with winemakers, brewers, and culinary innovators with tastings and conversations about what inspires them to make their wines, beers, and foods.  


This is a virtual event that will be presented via Zoom. In order to access this webinar, you will need a free Zoom account, which you can sign up for here.