Inside the Willy Wonka of Booze: Lost Spirits Distillery in Downtown LA

Lost Spirit Distillery tour in downtown Los Angeles and looking for the real-life Willy Wonka

Without a doubt, if you’re looking for one of the most unique things to do in Los Angeles, Lost Spirits Distillery is for you. Located in the arts district of downtown LA, the distillery doesn’t have any obvious signage. But you’ll know when you’re at the right spot when you see the giant queen of hearts with a door in the middle. It was pretty much this moment when Kevin asked, “So what are we doing again?”

Entrance to the distillery – we’re ready to taste some whiskey but not sure what else is in store!

The distillery partners who run this place can only be described as real-life Willy Wonka’s — taking you along their creative (and often strange) journey through their amusement park for adults.

The artfully displayed bottles of booze in the waiting room.

Upon arrival, we were given iPads where we had to sign away our lives (or at least that’s what I’m guessing since I glazed over the pages of legal jargon). The 2-hour tour ($35 per person) leaves every 30 minutes between noon to 10 PM every Friday-Sunday. Every tour is run by the distillery partners (who I don’t think ever sleep)! And by the way, advanced reservations are 100% necessary. We booked our tickets over a month in advance and got the last spots on the 9 PM tour on a Sunday!

No turning back – signing away our lives.

Make sure you aim to arrive about 15 minutes before your tour so you can explore the waiting room with dinosaur topiary that come alive when you pet them. Once again, confusing Kevin even more and asking, “I thought this was some type of whiskey tour?”

Petting the baby triceratops topiary that comes alive when you touch it

From there, that’s when things really start to get strange when a “Siri-like” guide named “Tessa” welcomed us and guided us to the first tasting room with rum and pays homage to “The Pirates of the Caribbean.”

It’s very dark, but you’ll get to try their award-winning (and very strong) rum.

From here, we boarded a wooden boat and floated down a canal that holds the distillery’s cooling water. Yeah, this is not your typical tour. As we floated through pitch darkness, a soundtrack played in the background with what sounded like a storm was approaching. I was pretty much expecting to see some Oompa Loompas waiting for us on the other side!

The docks on the other side of the distillery where our boat dropped us off.

From here, this is where we got down to the science and chemistry part of the tour. Basically, there is a lot more to distilling alcohol than I ever imagined. And owner Bryan Davis gave us the complete rundown on how they’re not just making your standard booze, but playing with different types of bacteria to produce new types like never experienced before (or in some cases, attempting to bring back vintages like the original rum used in a Mai Tai).

The high tech brewing equipment

Inside the lab of the mad scientists where they create the booze.

We couldn’t believe how fast this tour was going. Initially I was nervous about doing this lengthy tour and keeping Kevin awake. I mean, there was alcohol, moving rides and complete darkness. This was a recipe to put him out cold! But it couldn’t be further from the truth. Nearly at the 2 hour mark, we were then greeted by the third business partner who gave us teacups for our next tasting before boarding a carousel ride through the darkness.

Kevin and Mannie have a boozy ride on the carousel.

We’ve made it! Well, just about… There is still one more tasting room on “Whiskey Island” — inspired by H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau. We sat at a large wooden table that was surrounded by antiques and a vintage editions of sci-fi novels. This is where we tried my absolute favorite drink of the tour, a whiskey called “The Sayers of the Law.” And it wasn’t just the booze talking (like on winery tours, where the later ones always taste better!). This vintage was smooth and one of their top award winners.

The last tasting room on Whiskey Island.

Finally, you’re dropped off in their gift shop. Anyone who reads this blog knows I can’t pass up a good gift shop. However, this one puts a whole new twist on it with parrots working the shop. It is all part of the show — though you can purchase a few bottles here. It’s both hilarious and odd at the same time. I was laughing so hard (and not because of the whiskey!). After the tour, we couldn’t stop talking about just how unique this tour is and unlike anything in LA. Just go with it and you’ll have a blast — but remember, make sure you make those reservations well in advance. Word is getting out for this hot ticket!

Inside the Willy Wonka of Booze: Lost Spirits Distillery in Downtown LA
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Inside the Willy Wonka of Booze: Lost Spirits Distillery in Downtown LA
Looking for unique things to do in Los Angeles? Lost Spirits Distillery is for you. Located in the arts district of downtown LA, the distillery doesn't have any obvious signage. But you'll know when you're at the right spot when you see the giant queen of hearts and the door in the middle. 


  1. Went here on your recommendation and it was super cool. My family really enjoyed it. Thanks!

    • Hi Alana – so glad to hear you enjoyed your visit to Los Spirits! And that you’re getting some ideas of things to see from the blog. Thanks so much for the note!


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