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The Beach Boys’ Mike Love Puts Us in a Kokomo State of Mind

The legendary lead vocalist breaks out the libations on this week’s episode, showing off his new rum brand crafted and produced in San Diego
Mike Love, Happy Half Hour, San Diego Magazine

“Close my eyes, she’s somehow closer now / Softly smile, I know she must be kind / When I look in her eyes / She goes with me to a blossom world.”

The lyrics to the iconic Beach Boys song “Good Vibrations,” penned in part by Mike Love, are likely about a woman from long ago. But they could just as easily be about the flavors and sensations of his brand new rum, Club Kokomo Spirits.

We had Love in-house (along with his children, who work for the spirits company) to chat all things San Diego, award-winning rum, and good vibes on this week’s Happy Half Hour.

Geoff Longenecker of Seven Caves, the brand’s distiller, also joined the podcast to shake up mojitos for us in real-time. In case you aren’t already aware, he’s one of the preeminent spirits distillers in San Diego. “It’s pretty damn good, isn’t it?” Love whispered loudly to me, leaning in as he sipped. Indeed.

Both Love and The Beach Boys have a storied history in San Diego. They shot the Pet Sounds album cover at the San Diego Zoo. They played countless concerts at the Rady Shell, Del Mar Fairgrounds, and what was formerly Jack Murphy Stadium. Mike Love used to live in Rancho Santa Fe (where his daughter went to Cathedral Catholic), and, of course, his rum is distilled right here.

Love’s aspirations started years ago when he was enjoying a “perfect” mojito in New York with his wife, Jacquelyne, while humming the chorus of his co-authored hit song “Kokomo.” His penchant for wordplay took over as he uttered the word “Kokomojito,” and ever since, Mike’s dream has been to share the spirit of Kokomo with the world, he says.

Mike Love, The Beach Boys’ lead vocalist, at the San Diego Mag office | Photo Credit: Brook Larios, PlainClarity

Currently, Club Kokomo Spirits makes award-winning rum and gin-based canned cocktails and a line of bottled rums. The company prides itself on using high-quality ingredients, including natural sugars and flavors, to create a unique blend of demerara cane sugar rum and traditional Jamaican pot still rum.

“Aruba, Jamaica, ooh, I wanna take ya / Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama / Key Largo, Montego / Baby, why don’t we go? / Jamaica…”

Again, the song is about something else, right? Or…? Love says, “Kokomo is a state of mind.” He smiles, takes a sip, and grins once again.

By Jackie Bryant

Jackie is San Diego Magazine's content strategist. Prior to that, she was its managing editor. Before her SDM career, she was a long-time freelance journalist covering cannabis, food/restaurants, travel, labor, wine, spirits, arts & culture, design, and other topics.

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