This Aloe Liqueur Is Our New Cocktail Secret Weapon

We live in an era of the liqueur. Whereas ten years ago, most fruit liqueurs were garishly colored and unthinkably sweet—liquid candy boozed up just a smidge—today, you’ll find bottles that beautifully echo the flavor of their star ingredient, from straight-up berry liqueurs to spiced pear to even unlikelier-sounding numbers like this stellar banana.  

Aloe liqueur, however? That’s a new one to us. Chareau is a California-made aloe liqueur that builds from the aloe vera plant’s unique character: A little vegetal, a little bitter, totally singular. A number of other flavors complement the aloe here; a base of California unaged grape brandy is infused with cucumber, spearmint, lemon peel, and muskmelon, before fresh aloe juice is added.

The result is bright, lively, and complex—vivid with cucumber and melon, made its own by the fresh, appealing scent of aloe. It pairs with all manner of spirits and juices, but we’re particularly loving the Chareau with vegetable elements. Break out the muddler and try one of these three original cocktails.

Easy: Fennel Martini

The distinctive anise character of fresh fennel works beautifully in cocktails, especially those with an herbal bent. Gin takes center-stage in this martini-like drink, while the Chareau sweetens it up just a touch, balancing its botanicals and letting the fresh fennel emerge bright and clear.

The harder an ingredient is, the more muddling it needs, so don’t be afraid to give the fennel a good, hard smash. (Lighter ingredients need a little less muscle. We’ll get to that later.) 

Instructions: In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, add ¼ of a fennel bulb, cut into pieces. Muddle until it’s smashed up pretty well. Add two ounces of gin and an ounce of Chareau, along with ice. Shake until very well-chilled, then double-strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a fennel frond.

Intermediate: Cucumber Collins

It’s the freshness and vibrancy of the Chareau that we find so appealing, so we’re playing up those qualities with cucumber. Muddle it up, add vodka and lemon, and you’ve got a refreshing summer cooler that goes down easily as anything. Bonus: Snackable garnish.

Instructions: In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle two 1-inch rounds of cucumber until nicely smashed. Add half an ounce of vodka, an ounce of Chareau, half an ounce of lemon juice, and half an ounce of simple syrup, along with ice. Shake until very well-chilled, then double-strain into a tall glass with fresh ice. Add two ounces of club soda and stir briefly. Garnish with a long, skinny cucumber slice cut on the bias.

Advanced: Arugula-Rita

Cucumber, you see in drinks all the time. Fennel is a little more unusual, but anise flavors—think absinthe, or pastis—frequently star in cocktails, too. Arugula? Not so much. But its distinctive, peppery flavor can translate perfectly to liquid form. We love it in this margarita variation, where it plays up tequila’s own vegetal qualities, which the Chareau only amps up further. (And you can’t beat that color, either.)

Since arugula is so delicate, it doesn’t need nearly as much muddling as fennel, say. Go easy.

Instructions: To the bottom of a cocktail shaker, add a small handful of arugula and ½ ounce of light agave syrup (that’s light agave cut 1:1 with hot water, and stirred until dissolved). Muddle until arugula is bruised. Add an ounce of blanco tequila, an ounce of Chareau, and an ounce of lime juice, along with ice. Shake until very well-chilled, then double-strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a few pretty arugula leaves and a lime wedge.

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