If you wander into historic Filipinotown, you might find speakeasy-like Genever Los Angeles – a Filipina and womxn-owned bar dedicated to gin (as well as a diverse selection of other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and bites). They’ve been featured on the Steve Harvey Show, in LA Magazine, LA Eater and more! We had the chance to get to know the trio (aka Red Capiz Partners) – comprised of Roselma, Christine ‘Tinette’ and Patricia ‘Trisha’ – as well as what sparked the inspiration for their entrepreneurial adventure and how travel inspires them.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
From left to right:
Patricia ‘Trisha’ Perez (TP)
- Co-Owner, Co-Founder, CEO, Oversight
Christine ‘Tinette’ Sumiller (TS)
- Co-Owner, COO, Operations
Roselma Samala (RS)
- Co-Owner, CFO, Resources
Tell us about your background and a little about your current venture, Genever Los Angeles! Where does the name come from? What’s the landscape like for a womxn-owned bar?
RS: The three of us met as young college students at UCLA and have gone through many New Years celebrating together. We all come from different professional backgrounds – myself in philanthropy, Trisha in IT, Tinette in finance – but this one particular New Year’s Day, we all wanted to change our lives a bit. January 1, 2013 would be THE New Year’s morning that sparked the decision to go into business together.
As we sipped mimosas at 10 AM, we realized drinking – and celebrating – was the venture to go into together. For several years we set out to open Genever Los Angeles, a gin bar and lounge in historic Filipinotown. We are big lovers of gin and realized among all the niche bars in LA that featured spirits such as vodka or whiskey, none featured gin. And it’s one of the best bases for cocktails. So, we tested out some names and decided on Genever – which is actually a spirit that is the predecessor to gin, and it sounds like a woman’s name!
Little did we know that we would be the only liquor bar in Los Angeles totally owned by women of color! This drove our desire to change how women are perceived in the spirit world and to fulfill a desire to bring our Filipino culture into our flavors, given the neighborhood we landed in. We like to highlight women owned or distilled spirit brands, as well as all the women in the industry. There are definitely more out there then when we began, but as the word got out about our mission, I feel like we all naturally found each other.
Favorite resources (books, podcasts, etc.) or platforms for ongoing learning? Why/what do you like about them?
RS: I’m really enjoying my MasterClass membership right now. And I appreciate the addition of more ethnically-diverse instructors. The variety of topics applies to me as a regular person. From watching Ru Paul talk about confidence to hearing Amy Tan discuss her craft, I’ve learned not just about their exterior persona, the personal that got them to where they are. It’s all been inspiring.
What’s your favorite spot where you currently live & why? What makes it your go-to?
TS: I live in Burbank and love going to small family-owned restaurants and cafés. Of course I am thrilled we have a Porto’s in the neighborhood! However, I enjoy seeing small businesses in the community with their offerings like coffee and pastry, Mexican food, breakfast, and artisanal ice cream. It adds a sense of uniqueness to the neighborhood. I also consider Los Angeles my neighborhood, since I grew up there and frequent it. It would be remiss of me not to include our taco trucks and Filipino groceries that offer ready-to-eat Filipino food. I have to admit, these groceries count as my second kitchen! It’s such a blessing when you don’t have time to make it yourself!
What’s a fun fact or little-known fact about where you currently live you want to share with others?
RS: I live in what’s now known as the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles. Formerly an extension of Skid Row and once populated with drug addicts, my little block now feels like one of the safest and quietest in the downtown area. Law enforcement love Urth Cafe… also nearby is where they shot the last episode of House!
Where have you traveled you feel you learned the most, why?
TS: Any place I go has been a learning experience for me. I love to be where the locals are, learn their history, eat where they eat, witness what everyday life is like for them. In southern France, while talking to our hosts, I learned that their French is spoken differently from Parisians, similar to the difference between an Angeleno and a Nashville native speaking English.
I also loved learning about the rich culture in southern Spain, like how the Alhambra architecture and design is a mix of Moor and Christian contributions. In Croatia, I loved learning that the newer rooftops in Dubrovnik are replacements for the ones that were damaged during the bombing, and that this UNESCO site is the home of the 3rd oldest pharmacy in the world (and is still open today!). There are long and steep staircases to get to homes in this fortressed city and typically, the affluent families lived higher up the stairs so that invaders couldn’t get to their fortunes as easily. Also, this is where they filmed Game of Thrones (I didn’t know this when we traveled there, probably because I didn’t watch it!).
What’s your favorite travel memory? Why does it stand out?
RS: I walked a portion of the Camino Santiago. It stands out because it was not only of spiritual significance, but I think where my incorporation of hiking with travel began. The path covered such diverse landscape and beauty, that I appreciated even more nature and wanting it to be a part of my life. Plus, I got some great food that’s known in each stop! I think it also started my necessary connection of food and travel. – RS
What’s your least favorite/worst travel memory – why? Did you learn anything from it?
TS: [A trip to Milan] was one of the most challenging trips due to collective circumstances out of our control, though I cannot say that it was my worst travel memory. This trip instilled the importance of patience, flexibility, support, and celebrating love, life, and friendships through all the challenges.
I volunteer for a Philippine folk art organization, Kayamanan ng Lahi (Treasures of our People), and 7 of us, including Trisha, decided that after performing in the International Folk Dance Festival in Chateau Gombert in 2014, we would go to Milan and pay homage to La Madonna del Ghisallo, the patron saint of cyclists, just in time for our dear friend’s death anniversary.
With large suitcases full of costumes in tow, we had to take several trains to the French/Italian border. Little did we know that trains decided to go on strike that day. Taking 2 taxis we finally arrived in Ventimiglia and found people sleeping on the floor all the way outside the station. The boards read ‘cancellato, cancellato, cancellato’! We decided to look for a hotel for the night and head back to the station at 4 AM, when trains were scheduled to resume. [The next morning] the trains were in full swing, and they honored our tickets, but we had to give up our seats [to commuters] and travel the rest of the way to Milan sleeping on the pullout seats in the walkway of the train. We finally made it to Milan and the hill to Madonna del Ghisallo, making the best memories.
It really matters with whom you travel. I’ve always had a chosen few for a travel crew (including Trisha and Roselma) because any other combination of people for a challenge like this one could have made this the worst trip. Instead, the 7 of us reminisce about this time, the trip that formed Milan7 that keeps us close to each other to this day.
How does travel inspire you?
TP: Travel inspires creativity and grounds you into the present moment. Through traveling to different places and learning about different cultures, this gets the mind to think out of the box and ignite ideas because you are exposed to a new way of thinking, living, and feeling – new colors, ingredients, methods, approaches, beliefs, and more. Travel is an essential part of the human experience to enhance your personal growth.
What’s the best thing you’ve “brought home” from a trip – whether an actual souvenir, an idea, an attitude, a perspective, a relationship, etc.
TP: Recharged with the humbling experience of how we as a human race all strive for love, happiness, connection, and personal freedom, i.e., how we are ALL looking for meaning and purpose.
Travel inspires creativity and grounds you in the present moment. Through traveling to different places and learning about different cultures, this gets the mind to think out of the box and ignite ideas because you are exposed to a new way of thinking, living and feeling – new colors, ingredients, methods, approaches, beliefs, and more.
Travel is an essential part of the human experience to enhance your personal growth. – TP
Out of all the places you’ve been, which has been your favorite and why?
TS: There has always been an adventure, a distinguishing, memorable event in most of my travels so it’s hard to choose one favorite place, because it’s mostly the memories from those places that make them a favorite. I remember doing a low budget trip after college with 3 of the travel crew to Cancun. We chose a day to go to Chichen Itza, not knowing we couldn’t climb the pyramid (it was still allowed then) because it was a holy week and that happened to be the day for the descent of the Kukulkan serpent!
Then we rewarded ourselves with a lush dinner at an Argentine restaurant with the best service. El Nido in Palawan is also a favorite because of the pristine island, Philippine hospitality that also makes sure that living things endemic to the El Nido are preserved, sandy shores, cave excursions, and local food! Finally, I’d say that Barcelona is at the top of my list because you can walk and eat and be with the locals, it has a rich culture to explore, it is home to food and drinks that appeal to my palate, and has the best coffee anywhere you go.
Do you have any tips for learning while traveling?
TP: Do as the locals do (or close to it). Be willing to engage and immerse in the local culture, language, food/beverage, history, and more. Most especially, be open to getting to know the people.
What destination has surprised you the most from what you were expecting? Why?
RS: Turkey – I always saw it as foreign and exotic, and when I arrived, I realized Istanbul is the original cosmopolitan city. So much culture, great food, and a lot to learn about as a visitor from the States. It challenged my perception of how to blend in with the locals, how to learn about a new community, and true open enjoyment.
Learn More About Genever Los Angeles
- Website: https://www.geneverla.com/
- Cocktails to go: https://geneverla-store.square.site/
- Boutique: https://geneverla-store.square.site/boutique
- Subscriptions: https://table22.com/genever
- Virtual events: https://www.geneverla.com/events
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/genever_la/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/4GeneverLA