University of Denver Magazine: Photography major distills her talents into top slot at Hangar 1, November 16, 2015


Caley Shoemaker walks into a bar in the Bay Area. Not just any gin joint, but a posh purveyor of high-end spirits, tended by an ingenious mixologist who knows precisely when to shake and when to stir.

Make me a drink made with Hangar 1, she tells the maestro.

And then, when the concoction arrives, she sits back and savors her handiwork.

Since January 2014, Shoemaker (BFA ’09) has been head distiller at California-based Hangar 1 Vodka, headquartered at an old airplane shelter at the Alameda Naval Air Station near San Francisco. She’s one of the few female distillers in the country, and she’s making a name for herself — and her product — in the Bay Area’s bustling artisanal beverage and cocktail scene.

Shoemaker doesn’t just oversee the crafting of silky vodkas, she’s leading every aspect of operations. Right now that means preparing for the 2016 opening of a tasting room for visitors, hiring and supervising staff, selecting ingredients for new products, washing floors, assembling furniture and tending to the sometimes-cranky, sometimes-compliant copper stills that produce her vodkas. If one breaks down or malfunctions, Shoemaker is on the job.