Lelaneia Dubay began making cranberry liqueur for holiday gifts starting in 2008, then in 2011 beset by gluten and chemical sensitivities, she created the liqueurs in her kitchen for her own enjoyment.
Fast forward to 2013 to a neighborhood party in Hartford’s West End, to which Lelaneia brought two bottles of liqueurs as hostess gifts. There happened to be a few local restaurant owners and mixologists present. They unknowingly tasted the liqueurs and were blown away. They called it ‘magic in a bottle,’ and said there was nothing else like it on the market.
At first Lelaneia was hesitant, as she ran her own landscape design firm with a background in art and botany. But knowing more and more people affected by the chemicals in food, she began to research the alcohol industry. Now determined to provide an alternative in spirits, Lelaneia ran through hundreds of test batches before deciding on the original flavors available today: Cucumber, Rose, Lime, Cranberry, Lavender, Chai Spice and Birch. “I really went for flavors you couldn’t find on shelves, I wanted to reduce unnecessary sugars and pull flavor forward.” Her husband, Tom, was “all in” for using his experience in the corporate world, and together, they moved forward to develop artisanal, botanically-infused liqueur and Wild Moon Liqueurs was born.
In 2014, Tom and Lelaneia started Hartford Flavor Company and launched the product line. Wild Moon Liqueurs, has been called by some industry veterans, “the only liqueur that contains non-gmo and organic raw materials, for a gluten-free, chemical free product.”
To bring any alcoholic product to the market, producers go through the federal Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates alcohol. By going through the system, Lelaneia noticed that the bureau does not require companies to list their ingredients on packaging like the food industry does. Because of this, it is the norm for alcohol brands to use preservatives, stabilizers, GMOs, artificial flavor and coloring without informing their consumers. The couple did not want to continue this trend and by handcrafting every batch of each flavor, the company is proud to say Wild Moon and future product lines will be made without GMOs and will always be chemical free.
In the early development phase, Lelaneia, to her great surprise, could not find a base spirit that was guaranteed non-GMO in the United States. Opening up the search, she found a sugar cane base spirit produced in The Netherlands. By using sugar cane, the natural sweetness enhances the liqueurs and is more environmentally friendly than wheat, which is a popular ingredient in spirits production.
For decades, people have become more selective when it comes to food and diet, yet stop this practice when it comes to their alcohol choices. ‘Clean drinking’ supports the thought if you are going to eat clean, why not drink clean too? Hartford Flavor is up for the challenge of resetting industry standards by educating consumers. Part of their mission is to be a sustainable, ethical spirits producer that includes being environmentally minded. This practice involves repurposing, reusing and recycling as much as possible. The company grows some of its raw flavoring materials, sources from local farms, recycles and composts, and supports the efforts within the ‘green’ industry. Lelaneia believes everything is connected in some manner and therefore encourages everyone she meets to ‘drink clean’.
Wild Moon is now found at retailers and restaurants across CT, MA, RI and FL and will launch into several other states in the coming months. Hartford Flavor’s tasting room, is open to the public for tours on Fridays 4-7pm, Saturday 1-6pm, and Sunday 2-5pm. The tasting room can also be hired out for private tastings and events.
- .75 oz Wild Moon Cranberry Liqueur
- 1.5 oz Vodka
- .5 oz Maple Syrup
- .75 oz RIPE Lemon Sour
- Splash of Cointreau
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a few cranberries or maple leaf
Submitted by Sage A. Callahan, Hartford Flavor Company