It’s herbal, it’s floral, it’s natural, Oh MY. It’s botanical liqueur.
Walking into Hartford Flavor Company is like walking into a place where all’s right with the world: it’s owned and operated by a smart woman, everything is natural, and it is as beautiful as a field of flowers should be.
Or, it’s like a laboratory-meets day spa-meets fully-stocked bar. Take your pick.
Anyway, I think you are getting my point. It is downright lovely and essential and all you think while touring around and talking to owner Lelaneia Dubay is, where have you been all my life?
Although the spokes are turning ever so slightly, many beverage companies are still working with chemicals, colorings, and preservatives. Several years ago Dubay discovered those badforyous were affecting her health and she just stopped drinking altogether. After much research, and six months of giving up what she loved, she realized, if she was going to be able to enjoy another cocktail again some day, it would have to be done right. So, she rolled up her sleeves and decided to do it herself.
A natural creator, having two decades of a successful landscape design career under her belt, and doggonit, a desire for a good cocktail that wasn’t going to ruin her health, she got started. It began with a cranberry liquor she made as a gift for friends and family. Then with sprigs of lavender from her own garden, she had another hit---HFC actually has the only pure lavender liqueur on the market---It went over so well, she knew she had something. And, she says she didn’t want to wake up twenty years from now knowing she missed an opportunity, especially after so many positive reviews, and a lane open in the market for what she had to offer.
From Cranberry and Lavender to Rose and Birch and Cucumber and Lime and Chai, the flavors are endless with more on the way. HFC’s first line, Wild Moon Liqueurs, takes the best gems from nature and turns them up a notch in a new form. From the aroma unleashed to the heightened flavor on your palette, you will vow against anything else for your boozish. I promise you will throw out the Fireball stocking stuffers you still have lying around when you swig and swish the Wild Moon Chai. And, the grassy, crisp lightness from the Cucumber gives you a sense that at least in that moment, Mother Earth is your best friend.
Setting up Hartford Flavor Company was not easy, and it was not without a struggle to be noticed. Dubay is still swimming in a heavily male sea and dealing with such odds can be difficult. “The most significant challenge has been trying to get funding for a woman owned business. I am still trying to navigate that,” she mentioned just before sharing the story behind her logo which features the Roman Goddess Diana. Dubay uses Diana since she is known as the goddess of the hunt, the moon, and nature, who’s often seen alongside a deer. Hartford means deer-crossing, so the combination of imagery and representation of a strong woman of her city, made so much sense.
Hartford, of late, has truly been in the midst of a renaissance; it has become a hotbed of invention, creativity, and collaboration. She’d proud of that fact and all the state capitol is doing to support and nurture entrepreneurial spirit, hence her spirit needed to reflect that in the name. In January, HFC was a featured company in the city’s recent effort Entrepreneurs Heart Hartford which is a blog series showcasing the city’s entrepreneurs.
Not so Nitty Gritty
Dubay actually calls herself a Creatrix and an Infusionary given the real process behind her masterful, delicious product. The base alcohol is a gluten-free, GMO-free, sugar cane-based neutral spirit that HFC buys in bulk. It is then thoroughly filtered and on to the infusion process. Depending on the herbal or floral element used, the steeping time is altered; for example birch or chai may take a few weeks wherein the strength of rose or lavender strikes in mere days. Natural sugars are added after the infusion process and the batch gets filtered again. Then, it’s time for the bottling and labelling, and, like everything at HFC, is all completed in house.
With the success of Wild Moon Liqueurs, HFC is ready to spring forward with its next line in May: Wild Moon Botanics, a free spirited sister line to Wild Moon. Dubay admidts, “I am excited to be innovating in the botanical liqueurs category. The flavors will be 7 lemon, Sumac, Sage, and Roasted Dandelion Root.” When in her little laboratory, tasting some of the flavors, then experiments for the new line, I was overwhelmed by the intensity drawn from the natural, albeit not-your-everyday flavors. I was reminded of how electric the yellow could be from a butterfly’s wing or the purple from a fish in the sea. Food and drink have been manipulated and covered up for way too long, that now, finally, more and more creators like HFC are highlighting the beauty and flavor out of the element in its natural state. Huzzah!
From partnering with local gardens and farms, utilizing the efforts and energy from people and organizations within Hartford, HFC has quickly become a model of 21st century business.
The tasting room is open to the public on weekends, and the $10 fee per person includes a Wild Moon Liqueurs production process tour, tastes of current and future flavors, light food bites, and cocktail samples. Hours of operation are Fridays 4 – 7 pm, Saturdays 1 – 6 pm, and Sundays 2 – 5 pm.
Head to HFC for Friday Night Flavor through June 4th to celebrate the end of the work week with live music, food trucks, and of course, delicious craft cocktails.
Follow on social media @HartfordFlavor
Hartford Flavor Company
30 Arbor Street, Suite 107
Hartford, CT 06106