Into 2018 and beyond, the craft local spirit scene continues to explode, with the farm-to-bar movement popping up in multiple products in even your most basic local dive bar scene. With so many new small-batch options seemingly born for drinking every day, it’s easy to get lost in the myriad of options; it may become hard to choose that one that will actually stand out and become a staple on the shelf or in the home bar. How do you begin to pick? Where do you start?
All of the ingredients used to create Chareau are organic whenever available and directly sourced from small family farms in the community
This is, I think, where Chareau comes in, as an aloe-based liqueur made in Camarillo, California. Along with its very unique and technically challenging main base ingredient, Chareau brings with it a focused mission and intent that no doubt fueled this successful, up-and-coming liqueur.
Kurt Charron, the creator of Chareau aloe liqueur, wanted to build something that reflected the beautiful and unique agricultural riches that California has to offer, as well as those farmers and artisans that pour their livelihoods into making all of this possible to experience—that is, to eat and drink—for the rest of us. All of the ingredients used to create Chareau are organic whenever available and directly sourced from small family farms in the surrounding community. Likewise, the spirit itself is named after Kurt Charron’s great-grandparents, who were farmers of the California landscape as well.
The Chareau Profile
Chareau was created in 2013 after four years of a meticulous crafting of the recipe, and stands out in the spirits realm for its openly listed ingredient source: aloe vera, cucumber, eau de vie (unaged brandy), lemon peel, muskmelon, spearmint, sugar, and water.
Aloe, a member of the lily family, was the key driver of the spirit and is a notoriously tricky ingredient, as its semi-gelatinous nature can either fail to play nicely with the rest of a concoction or cocktail or be a smooth textural blessing to drinks when the optimal consistency is painstakingly achieved. When used in larger quantities, aloe can stick out its most powerfully bitter notes, with medicinal themes that tend to stand out against and bleed through most other flavors. And at the same time, when trying to balance its less optimal characteristics, its softer and more gentle natural tones can easily get lost. A challenging undertaking, Chareau is certainly bringing aloe into some bright new culinary light.
The base spirit of Chareau is an eau de vie, or an unaged brandy, which is made from California-grown grapes true to local form, and the water is sourced from Yosemite. The cucumber, lemon peel, muskmelon, and spearmint are no less important players, helping to achieve that ever-fragile balance in aloe’s character.
Now, how best to enjoy Chareau?
With such simplicity and purity, all of the flavors used to create it can be tasted (and sometimes felt) when enjoying Chareau. This is definitely a fresh-forward spirit, brimming with collaboration and nearly the excitement of its local roots and all that California has to offer.
The aloe is cooling, a little sour, and adds some thickness, which is usually obtained in a liqueur by an exceptional measure of sugar. The spearmint is a stronger player, lending a little medicinal touch and smoothing out the eau de vie at the base of it all. Cucumber imparts its gentle, fresh vegetal neutrality. The muskmelon offers a bright and warm sweetness that the lemon peel and its oils gently balance.
That said, a good way to taste its portfolio of already stocked flavors is certainly straight (and perhaps with a large cube), but there really are endless possibilities for Chareau in a cocktail. Overall, it seems to play the best with effervescence—anything light and bubbly—and other bright, floral, and citrus flavors that won’t be overbearing; ultimately, it’s advised to keep it quite simple, so its bouquet of flavors can still shine through.
Along with its very unique and technically challenging base ingredient, Chareau brings with it a focused mission and intent that no doubt fueled this successful liqueur
For a few starting recipe ideas, we have the California 75, the San Simeon, and the Eastside, created by the team behind Chareau itself. Chareau is currently available in 14 of the U.S. states and is available for shipment internationally.
A playful riff on the fresh French 75, Chareau lends significant depth of flavor to the classic cocktail.
1 oz. Chareau
1 oz. gin (St. George Terrior Gin recommended)
½ oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
5 oz. sparkling wine
Rosemary sprig, optional for garnish
- Combine Chareau, Gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and ice in a shaker and shake.
- Use a fine mesh strainer to strain into a Collins glass filled with ice.
- Top with the sparkling wine and rosemary sprig (if using).
Oh, mezcal. It’s really hard to go wrong with its signature smoke. With just a splash of citrus and agave sweetness, the Chareau shines through brightly in this cocktail.
1½ oz. mezcal
½ oz. Chareau
¾ oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
¼ oz. light agave syrup
1 egg white
Pistachio, optional for garnish
- Dry shake the mezcal, Chareau, fresh lemon juice, light agave syrup, and egg white.
- Add ice, and shake again.
- Strain into a coupe glass and top with pistachio (if using).
A perfect summer drink, the Eastside combines Chareau with the beautiful botanical flavors of gin and mint.
1½ oz. Gin
1 oz. Chareau
¾ oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice
½ oz. simple syrup
4–5 fresh mint leaves
- Combine the Gin, Chareau, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and ice in a shaker and shake.
- Strain over ice and garnish with fresh mint leaves.