“I’ve had amazing conversations and experiences with people that I’ll probably never see again. That fuels me to paint more and to experience more, give more, and create more.” James Haunt
James Haunt was raised in East Los Angeles, where he became interested in art through comic books, graphic novels and pop culture. He started drawing because, as a bit of a troublemaker, he spent a lot of time in his room being grounded. As Haunt evolved as an artist, he got into the graffiti scene. After studying graphic arts in high school, he began to shift his focus to a more commercial and less dangerous outlet for his creativity.
“I’ve been in some shitty situations, but I’ve always felt like I had something to offer. I’ve never felt like a victim. From that, I put strength into my artwork. It’s not something for myself, but it’s to be shared.”
James Haunt’s Big Break
His breakthrough moment came at an Agenda (action sports) trade show. Rumor has it Haunt engaged in a little guerilla marketing by stamping crisp one dollar bills with the James Haunt smiley face logo over George Washington’s likeness. He dropped them casually as he strolled through the aisles. People picked them up, saw the logo and went looking for more until they saw the same logo on Haunt’s booth in the show. A star was born.
James Haunt the Working Artist
Since then, Haunt has built his career as a working artist, kind of a unicorn among creatives. It’s rare for artists to support themselves doing exactly what they love, in its purest form. His art has allowed him to travel and meet people all from all over the world.
James Haunt has been commissioned to do spray painted murals for Red Bull’s offices, Big Bear Resort, Hotel Erwin, Wahoo’s and at too many locations to list in the Los Angeles and Palm Springs areas. Haunt is influenced by the California lifestyle, specifically the sun, the palm trees and that feel-good vibe endemic to beach culture. He paints what makes him happy, which for right now is a recurring theme of beautiful women.
“I learned that repetition is a great way of marketing yourself…to force a style into people’s visuals…I’m happy about getting recognized without having to sign my name on a piece.”
James Haunt and Trust Me Vodka
Trust Me Vodka supports artists by allowing a total takeover of our bottles, offering them a wide-ranging commercial canvas. It’s our thought that vodka may be colorless, but the bottles don’t have to be. We immediately connected with Haunt, sharing the same passion for our respective crafts.
“This collaboration is something that just felt organic and natural…You can sit down and have a cocktail with someone and barely speak the same language but laugh for hours and into the evening and walk away as friends. There are few things that bring people together, but I feel like sometimes having a drink can do that.”
From walls to dollar bills or to buildings, Haunt is now offering his art to the world on limited edition Trust Me Organic and Gluten Free Vodka bottles. Our vodka won’t last long, but the James Haunt bottles can take a more permanent place on the shelf, in a glass cabinet or on your counter. Look for them Summer of 2017.
This summer, we thought we’d try something new for our recipes. Thanks to bloggers like Nick Hines over at Vinepair and Justine Sterling at Supercall, we got the idea to infuse our vodka with local herbs, fruits and teas using a French press. Vodka infusions done without a press take 24-48 hours. With the French press, you can get great results in under 20 minutes. Head over to Chino Farms in Del Mar for specialty herbs and fruit if you feel like experimenting with some novel ingredients, which we did. Special thanks to Searsucker in Del Mar for letting us play Swedish Chef in your back bar and sorry about the mess!
Hot, Sticky, Sweaty
½ muddled peach
½ muddled Cavaillon melon
¼ tsp marigold lemon tea leaves
4 crushed fresh lemon balm leaves
½ crushed fresh cayenne pepper
1 C Chilled Trust Me Organic Vodka
Add all ingredients to a French press, stir vigorously, allow to steep for 5-20 minutes, depending on how long it takes for you to wash your sticky, cayenne pepper-infused hands. Press, pour into chilled glass and garnish with fresh cantaloupe chunks and lemon balm leaves. Warning: Don’t touch your eyes for a good 20 minutes after washing your hands.
When Life Gives You a Cucumber
2 Hamburger Cucumbers, peeled and muddled
Six sprigs of Anisum seedlings
½ juiced Eureka lemon
1 C Gluten Free Trust Me Vodka
Dash of simple syrup or agave
Make Cucumber-ade! Add all ingredients to a French press, stir vigorously, let steep for 5-20 minutes, depending on your patience level. Press, pour into glass with ice and garnish with lemon peel and sprinkled herbs. Then drink and cheer up.
The Floor is Lava
12 French Strawberries, stems off and muddled
5-6 Fresh mint springs, crushed
2 hibiscus tea bags
1 C Trust Me Gluten Free Vodka
Put everything into a French press, stir, let steep for 5 minutes, pour into a chilled glass and garnish with a strawberry and mint leaves. Don’t let your feet touch the floor until it’s all gone.
- To muddle the fruit and herbs, you can use a mortar and pestle, or just throw the fruit in a blender or food processor. Roll the herbs into a little bouquet and crush with the flat side of a knife if you don’t have a mortar and pestle and toss everything in the French press.
- How long you leave the vodka in the French press really changes the flavor. Play with the amount of time you let it sit and note the results.
- How much vodka you add also contributes. We aren’t the vodka police, so take the 1 C advice loosely. Keep in mind that if you add more vodka it will dilute the flavor, so if you want more drinks, double the whole recipe to maintain the same flavor profile.
- We only added a little agave or simple syrup to one drink, as the ripe fruit was sweet enough on its own.