A Taste of Hartford Flavor Company
Hartford Flavor Company has it all. The unique backstory, the husband and wife owners, the personality, and lastly, the ridiculously good product. When we came to Hartford Flavor Company we didn’t quite know what to expect. But after our tour and tasting, we left with an appreciation and a new found excitement for all that this company is bringing to the Hartford area, and with our taste buds buzzing with flavor.
The story of Hartford Flavor Company began when founder Lelaneia Dubay began to notice a sensitivity to gluten. Unfortunately, there are not many beverages out there without gluten, so she had to cancel out most alcoholic beverages. Prosecco became her new go-to drink, but after six months she got tired of drinking just this, because… well it’s practically tasteless.
Lelaneia is a botanist so knowing what a specific plant would do to the flavor of alcohol came easily to her. She began mixing different things together and came up with 50 different flavors just based on her knowledge of botanical ingredients. Lelaneia and her husband, Tom (CEO) then narrowed the flavors down to a dozen, invited a bunch of people to their house and did tasting after tasting; family, neighbors, strangers, industry people – they felt that it was best to get it out to the industry people before they spent the time and money opening a location.
“If it takes, then we’ll know now… and if it’s gonna bomb, then let’s have it bomb in the kitchen.”
So after everyone’s obvious approval, it came time to get the liqueurs out to restaurants in the area, who quickly gave them another thumbs up.
Their next thought was, “crap, we gotta do this now,” and they started scouting for a space. They found their location on Arbor Street in Hartford and March of 2015 they got the go ahead to start making their first batch.
Their liqueurs are now distributed in 4 states; CT, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Florida, and they’re currently on their way to going national.
“So you just never know, good stuff happens in garages and kitchens and basements. Take your idea and make a run with it.”
The Hartford Flavor Company name
Tom and Lelaneia live in the West End of Hartford, so they knew they wanted something not only based in Hartford but with the Hartford name in it. “We wanted to be part of the renaissance and all the cool stuff that is starting to happen in the city again,” Tom said.
They wanted to come at the naming approach with a different angle. They didn’t want to be so industry centric by adding ‘liquor’ or ‘spirits’ to the name so they went with ‘flavor company’ – which ended up working out perfectly because their first product line was so flavorful.
Branding the product
The Hartford Flavor Company logo was chosen to resemble Diana the Greek goddess. However, they wanted to make a few modifications to make it their own, such as shrinking down the size of Diana’s deer, which to them symbolized renaissance, rebirth, newness; features that they saw in Hartford.
Diana is the goddess of the wild and the moon, which led them to their product name; Wild Moon. Diana is also the goddess of the hunt, and as a new company, they were on the hunt for something new, “the imagery and naming just came together.”
Each Wild Moon product is all natural, gluten and GMO-free. Each flavor in the liqueur is infused with natural materials – whether it’s from CT-only cucumbers, or fresh cinnamon, cardamom and cloves to make the chai spice; the ingredients sit in the spirit until the flavor emerges through.
On the tour, we got a taste of 7 different liqueur flavors; cucumber, rose, lime, cranberry, birch, chai spice and lavender. We were surprised at how each ingredient emanated through, even the cucumber liqueur was so flavorful.
During the tour you can catch a glimpse of some of the ‘test flavors’ Hartford Flavor Company creates – like horseradish and dandelion root.
A specialty flavor infused drink
The hardest part of this tour is ordering a drink at the end. You’re only able to order one drink, so the pressure is high to pick the perfect one (no worries though because there’s no such thing as a bad drink here).
These liqueurs really get your creative alcoholic juices flowing because there are endless options of what to mix these liqueurs in, INCLUDING food.
Tom told us a little secret:
“Take out the water in your brownie mix and substitute it for our ‘Chai Spice’ liqueur.”
Yeah, this combo left our mouths watering.
Experience it for yourself
You can find Wild Moon in just about every liquor store and restaurant in the area, it’s sold in over 35 locations in Hartford alone. You can also pick up a bottle (or four) at their tasting room during open hours.
For those who need some liqueur mixin’ inspiration, Hartford Flavor Company has at least 10 recipes on their website for each one of their products.
Hartford Flavor Company holds tours every week on Fridays 4-7PM, Saturdays 1-6PM, and Sundays 2-5PM. We HIGHLY recommend you stop by for this experience, and when you do, make sure to let them know that weHartford says Hi.
Location: 30 Arbor Street Suites 107-108 Hartford, CT 06106