Aloe vera: It's not just for sunburns anymore.
Meet Chareau ($49 for 750ml), a California-distilled aloe liqueur that has bartenders falling head over heels.
Its story begins with founder Kurt Charron, a Los Angeles distiller who originally sought to bottle an un-aged brandy flavored with cucumber and gin botanicals. After tasting a drink enhanced with aloe vera juice, however, Charron decided he wanted his eau de vie to highlight the succulent's sweet and floral properties.
"We couldn't find anything that had the same flavors," explained Charron, "but it was something many bartenders were looking for."
So Charron partnered with Lance Winters of St. George Distillery and the two began to incorporate botanicals that echoed the natural notes of aloe: cucumber, muskmelon, lemon peel and spearmint--each sourced from local California farms. Aloe vera juice was added after the final distillation, bringing the dry-style liqueur to proof (25% ABV) and lending a thicker mouthfeel.
The first batch went out in April. Since then, It has spread to over 30 bars in L.A. and San Francisco.
Chareau at Bar Keeper (Photo: Kurt Charron)
Serena Herrick, bartender at Echo Park's Allumette, uses it in the Cactus Cooler #2 ($13), a lethally smooth combination of Tapatio Reposado Tequila, Germain-Robin Brandy and Chareau.
At home it's great as a festive aperitif with a lemon twist, or topped up with a bit of soda water.
Just don't try to rub it on that sunburn.