By Rick Riozza

One of the most exciting beverage news stories to come out of Palm Springs recently is the success of Racquet Club Spirits.  For those of you already in the know—this may be old news.  But for the rest of us around town & country, we are all delighted to come upon this wonderful story, and, to learn that a premium world class liquor company calls this international destination city, home base.

But a lot of you are in the know!  Racquet Club Spirits Vodka and Bourbon Whiskey currently sells at our local supermarkets such as Albertsons and Vons; wine and liquor stores such as Total Wines & More, Bouchet Fine Wine & Liquor, Mirage Wine & Liquor—and our long time favorite, Hi Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa.  The Whole Foods chain carries the brand all over Southern California—for which I believe the Palm Desert store will soon follow suit.

And, as your somm-about-town and friendly neighborhood wine steward over at the Palm Springs Ralphs Market, you best believe I’ll be on the case to get these delicious spirits on our shelves, not only in P.S. but in the other Ralphs in our valley.  I know, so many of you loyal readers across town actually shop at the Indio Ralphs, but you’re always so sweet to try my beverage recommendations. You’ll thank me, again, when Racquet Club Sprits comes to your store aisles.


So why am I so enthused about this brand?  Recently I had the privilege to join Jane Booth, business maven and consultant to RCS (you know I love dropping names and lifting up our local business leaders), over at Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge located in the fashionable Uptown Design District of Palm Springs.

Meeting in the lounge area, Jane introduced me to Brian Harke and Matthew Winks, owners of our now favorite LGBTQ+ owned spirits company, Racquet Club Spirits.  After the pleasant introductions, the vodka and bourbon whiskey were served to me neat so I could take all the time to view, smell, taste, and consider while I chatted with the two guys.

Now by no means am I a super-smeller, but I took in wafts of pleasant aromas immediately when the drinks were brought to the table.  And not only from the whiskey but from the vodka as well—that translates to lively liquor, and I was immediately on board!

The Racquet Club Vodka, which is filtered 7 times using a carbon, with all-natural carbon originating from coconut husks, offered whispering aromas of vanilla and citrus.  The aromas melded into the clean and crisp palate with a mouthfeel as smooth as can be.  I knew a Martini would soon be in my future.

The vodka has won several awards including a silver award from the New York World Wine and Spirits competition. The bourbon has received two double gold awards from the Sip Awards and the San Diego Spirits Festival.

The Racquet Club Bourbon Whiskey was a great surprise. Expecting the traditional “sweet” note of bourbon, I found some of my favorite rye-spice notes in the mix.  And rightly so: the whiskey is actually a blend of 60% Corn, 36% Rye, and 4% Malted Barley.

The immediate aromas caused me to spend about ten to fifteen minutes more to savor the bouquet from the glass it was poured.  Finding vanilla, cocoa, nuts, and fruit, I then finally took in a full mouthful and found flavors of caramel, vanilla, chocolate, and smoke. The mid-palate showed a balance of roasted nuts and my favorite rye spice.  A nice caramel finish played out. Again, I enjoyed this whiskey immensely because of the included rye.

Besides enjoying the booze, I really had a good time chatting with Jane and the guys.  In the past few months, both Brian and Matthew have made a lot of press around town.

Palm Springs magazine recently wrote: “The spirit of individuality and fun from the historic Racquet Club spur a desert couple to create a new Palm Springs-inspired liquor brand. A marketing director and commercial producer together for more than 30 years, Movie Colony couple Brian Harke and Matthew Winks have spun their passion for cocktails into a new line of Palm Springs-inspired spirits, Racquet Club Spirits.”

And Booze Business, whose writer has recently moved here to Rancho Mirage, said, “The owners, Brian and Matthew, come from outside the Booze Business world but have quickly learned the business and what it takes to succeed. Brian was a marketing director, and Matthew was a TV commercial producer. They used their creative background to work on the classic bottle design with a [Palm Springs] vintage label.

For you readers who are now pleasantly inform by this article, I importune you to go to their fun and wonderful website at, to catch the story how the idea and work served as a tribute to the style and swagger of Palm Springs’ Racquet Club.  Already known by many of our locals, the venue was a desert oasis that became Hollywood’s legendary playground. The Racquet Club of Palm Springs, a former resort established by Hollywood actors Ralph Bellamy and Charles Farrell in 1934, inspired the branding.

The company’s website lists many well-known cocktail recipes their liquors can be used for, such as the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Whiskey Sour, Mint Julip, and a regular and espresso Martini and Lemon Twist.  And of course, at our table, my desires to taste the liquor in a classic cocktail were answered as I enjoyed a Martini with a lemon twist, and an Old Fashioned.  The concoctions were delicious; our sunhats off to the bar at Eight4Nine!

Cocktails are also being poured with Racquet Club Spirits at the Chili Bar Palm Springs and at Palm Springs’ famed Tropicale Restaurant.

“We’re about giving our consumers a good experience,” said Matthew. “Something that tastes good and they’re going to like, makes them feel a certain way and has a certain vibe when they’re drinking it.”  Cheers!