The Art of Crafting Signature Cocktails: A Mixologist's Guide

Club Kokomo Spirits’ “Tropical Drink Melting in Your Hand”

Beach Boys frontman Mike Love mixes his catchy hit song with a classic cocktail to produce a modern spirits company


Mike Love was out on the town a few years ago, enjoying an especially intoxicating rum-based mojito. A light bulb went off over the head of the Beach Boys co-founder. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is an inveterate wordsmith (see decades of contributions to chart-topping pop hits). Recalling the band’s 1988 No. 1 smash “Kokomo,” Love turned to his wife, Jacquelyne, and said, “You know, what the world needs is…a ‘Kokomojito.’”  

God only knows where that kind of inspiration flows from. The good vibrations from the mashup of two classics — one a song named after a fictional tourist destination and the other a bar staple — became the basis for a real-life business. The idea for Club Kokomo Spirits was born. 

With the concept fully fleshed out, I’m scheduled to meet Love in mid-December 2023. He’s making a low-key entrance in North Park for a quick dinner at One Door North. Love’s entourage fills three dinner tables in the back of the restaurant. Now 82, the Beach Boy who never stops working is in town to judge a bartending contest later tonight at Swan Bar. He smiles at the thought of having to taste test all the contestants’ cocktails. “Usually, I’m a gulper, but tonight I’m going to be a sipper,” Love says.  

This contest is unique. Eight of San Diego’s top bartenders will compete. And the main ingredient will be special rum blends used in Love’s new line of Club Kokomo Spirits. The company premiered with four harmonious cocktail-in-a-can offerings. One is a gin mix; the other three contain Love’s spirit of choice, including the citrusy “Afternoon Delight,” guava-infused “Mystique,” and lime-mint-lemongrass-blended “Kokomojito.”

The imminent news: Club Kokomo Spirits will introduce three new rums to the mix. Look for a Tahitian Vanilla Rum, an Artisan White, and a barrel-finished rum described as “a premium sipper.”

Love’s son Brian Love, who’s a Club Kokomo Spirits founding partner, connected with small-batch distillery Seven Caves Spirits in Miramar, helmed by award-winning spirits formulator Geoff Longenecker.

Geoff Longenecker, founder/owner of Seven Caves Spirits, and Club Kokomo Spirits founder 
Mike Love
Geoff Longenecker, founder/owner of Seven Caves Spirits, and Club Kokomo Spirits founder Mike Love

Until this year, the canned cocktails have been predominantly distributed in more than 40 San Diego retail outlets. Brian says the plan is to start with the new bottles and push for national distribution. “The bottles will be available by retail and we’ll also be shipping direct to consumers in 37 states,” Brian says. “We’ll try to hit the market hard, starting with a San Diego launch. San Diego really is our home base. Seven Caves is highly respected, and we have a lot of friends here.”

Indeed. As a well-traveled musician, Mike Love can honestly say: “I get around.” Though, for a decade, his primary residence was in Rancho Santa Fe, and one of Love’s daughters attended Cathedral Catholic High School in Carmel Valley.

Love raves about playing a recent concert in the world-class Rady Shell at Jacobs Park in downtown San Diego. And in 2023, the Beach Boys performed at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in a charity fundraiser concert benefiting the Vision of Children Foundation.  

He lights up recalling the string of San Diego Padres-Beach Boys “doubleheaders” played at Jack Murphy Stadium throughout the 1980s. Usually held in May, the concerts would follow the baseball game and regularly drew 50,000-plus fans. One of those doubleheaders is where the band first met actor John Stamos. Now well-known for portraying Uncle Jesse in TV sitcom Full House, at the time Stamos was a heartthrob stemming from his role as Blackie on the soap opera General Hospital. Love and Stamos remain good friends. The actor often sits in on drums at Beach Boys gigs, and he played bongos in the “Kokomo” music video.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a San Diego tie-in to the Beach Boys’ highly-acclaimed Pet Sounds album? That 1966 master work has been dubbed by critics as one of the most influential collections of pop music ever. Don’t worry baby, there is a strong and endearing connection.

Recall the Pet Sounds album cover? It’s a photograph of all five members of the band — Love, brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, and Al Jardine — cavorting with goats. Wish they all could be California goats? Well, the picture was taken in the petting zoo area of the San Diego Zoo. 

What does Love remember about working with the San Diego Zoo goats? Was it fun, fun, fun? 

“Those goats were hungry, really hungry,” he sighs.

If only there’d been a take-the-bite-out-of-the-day cocktail called a “Kokomojito” available back then. Pop one open, get there fast, and then you’d take it slow. 

That’s where we wanna go.