Pandemic Pivot: Pacific Coast Spirits


Christian Cazares, PPE Supplies Coordinator with the California Department of Social Services (left) presents a public service award to Nick Hammond, Pacific Coast Spirits owner (right) for using his Oceanside distillery to produce hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Six months ago, local distiller Nick Hammond didn’t know much about hand sanitizer. Today, he’s practically an expert.

Like many business owners, he had to pivot during the pandemic. As the owner of Pacific Coast Spirits, that meant turning part of his Oceanside restaurant and distillery into a factory for hand sanitizer — a hot commodity in the fight against COVID-19.

“Our equipment already makes highly-distilled alcohol, so logistically, this wasn’t a big jump for us,” he explained. “But it was a big surprise. We never saw it coming.”

His business was just a few months old, in fact, when the pandemic hit. It quickly dawned on him that hand sanitizer was his lifeline.

“As a manufacturer, our license allows us to work with the FDA to produce hand sanitizer,” he said. “That’s why our business has survived.”

These days, customers at Pacific Coast Spirits are buying-up bottles of the antiseptic with their craft cocktails, which is a true sign of the times.

“We’re deeply grateful to the Oceanside community for its outpour of support,” Hammond said. “Every customer that comes through the doors is helping us survive another day, and we couldn’t be more thankful for patronage right now.”

Serving Community During Crisis

Pacific Coast Spirits has churned out about 6,000 gallons of hand sanitizer for hospitals, court houses, and even Amazon. It also donated another 2,000 gallons to first-responders and some of the most vulnerable populations in San Diego County.

This month, the California Department of Social Services honored Hammond with a public service award, stating that his contribution has been a “substantial and notable” help in the fight against COVID-19.

During Black Lives Matter marches in Oceanside, Pacific Coast Spirits has given protestors free water and hand sanitizer, in an effort to protect public health.

During a recent Black Lives Matter march in Oceanside, Pacific Coast Spirits provided protestors with free water and hand sanitizer, helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the event. 

“Helping the community is something we are committed to,” Hammond said. “We are constantly looking for ways to help. That’s built into our business model.”

Case in point: Pacific Coast Spirits has been making its hand sanitizer with spoiled beer that it bought at cost from local breweries. That’s saved the breweries from taking a loss on kegs they would have otherwise had to dump.

The Bigger, Post-Pandemic Picture

Pacific Coast Spirits represents one of about 170 manufacturers in Oceanside, which represent about 6% of the City’s total brick-and-mortar businesses, according to city data. About 12% of Oceanside’s working adults are employed by manufacturers across the San Diego region, according to the same data.

Across the county, there are more than 3,500 manufacturing companies in aerospace, maritime, clean technology, biomedical, pharmaceutical and sporting goods, according to data from California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC).

CMTC provides all sorts of free and reduced-cost services to manufacturers. During the pandemic, many have pivoted like Pacific Coast Spirits, and CMTC has helped them do it.

“We have seen a lot of manufacturers shift their production to make personal protective equipment (PPE), such as medical masks and hand sanitizer,” said Amanda Cheyney, a CMTC Client Advisor. “We help those manufacturers connect with companies looking for PPE.”

CMTC is also offering services to help manufacturers reopen safely. This includes workplace safety under new COVID-19 guidelines, and contingency planning for another wave of infections.

Cheyney says she expects that in the post-pandemic world, more manufacturers will diversify, the way Pacific Coast Spirits has. She also hopes their story will help shed light on the critical role the industry plays in our economy.

“This pandemic disrupted supply chains, and highlighted the need to restore production,” she explained. “As we start to rebuild our economy, it’s critical we invest in our own ability to manufacture goods.”

That certainly resonates with Oceanside Economic Development Manager Michelle Geller. In her role, she’s committed to helping businesses like Pacific Coast Spirits weather this pandemic, and be successful well into the future.

“I’ve been inspired by the tenacity and downright grit of our Oceanside businesses during this pandemic,” she said. “Their resilience is our priority, and we want them to know we’re here to help. They are navigating uncharted territory, but they don’t have to do it alone.”

For more information about CMTC and its services, please visit For more information about the City of Oceanside’s economic development services, please visit or contact Michelle Geller at or (760) 435-3351.