Have you ever craved a fancy cocktail in the middle of the day but settled on beer or a glass of wine because of its lower alcohol content? Well, ready your rocks glass, because happy hour is about to get a whole lot happier. Haus is a line of all-natural apéritifs that are mild enough to sip all evening long but boozy (and balanced) enough that they don’t taste like Juicy Juice. Once you see the flavors, we know what you’ll be sipping on all summer.
We’ll Be Sipping Haus Natural Apéritifs All Summer Long, Thank You Very Much
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- Value: 18/20
- Functionality: 20/20
- Quality: 20/20
- Aesthetics: 20/20
- Taste*: 18/20
So, what’s an apéritif, you ask? It’s a type of spirit that’s usually made with a mix of fruits, herbs, roots and botanicals, like Campari, Aperol or vermouth. They’re lower in alcohol than core spirits like vodka and whiskey, but more potent than most vino and beer. They can be bitter, sweet or somewhere in between, but they’re generally complex and herbaceous due to their ingredients.
Haus’s drinks are made exclusively with natural fruits, herbs and botanicals, contain a fraction of the sugar of big-brand apéritifs (bye, hangover) and have modest 18 to 20 percent ABVs. While apéritifs are European in tradition, Haus’s are designed specifically for American tastes; many are based on spirits or liqueurs that are popular stateside (like the Bitter Clove, which was inspired by whiskey and amaro).
The brand’s production process is unique in the best way. Not only do they source their ingredients from trusted farms, but the spirits are also naturally fermented, packaged and shipped for a farm-to-bottle product you can feel good about sipping. First, Haus steeps the fruits, herbs and botanicals in brandy to extract their flavor. Then, the extractions are blended with naturally fermented and distilled grapes and a bit of raw, organic sugar. The spirits are also vegan, gluten-free and only contain a small amount of sulfites that occur during fermentation. Haus also prides itself in fueling production with clean, renewable energy and using responsibly sourced, recyclable materials for its products.
Flavors range from fruity Rose Rosé to crisp Citrus Flower to warm Bitter Clove. And they come in chic bottles that will look stellar on your bar cart (they’d also make great party or holiday gifts for the amateur mixologist in your life…just sayin’). They’re surprisingly versatile too: Drink them solo on the rocks or turn them into a spritz with a few splashes of club soda, tonic or flavored seltzer. You can even use them in cocktails and combine them with your favorite spirits and mixers.
The whole line is crafted in Sonoma, California and the brand ships directly to consumers, which is pretty damn epic. Its low alcohol content allows Haus to legally bypass most federal spirit laws. Treat yourself to the sampler kit, which includes four flavors of your choice in small 200-milliliter bottles. Once you taste them and know which ones you love, you can upgrade to full-sized bottles of those specific flavors. (The full-sized bottles are a bit pricier than some other popular apéritifs, but a natural, direct-to-consumer product is worth the splurge in our book.)
In case you need help deciding, read on for our honest review of four popular varieties.
1. Grapefruit Jalapeño
This pick is the newest of them all, and we’re overjoyed that it’s joined the Haus roster. One sniff and we were overcome with the aroma of bitter grapefruit rind and fresh-cut peppers. It’s made with Makrut lime leaves, pink peppercorn, fresh jalapeños and whole grapefruits, resulting in a final product that’s citrusy with just the right amount of earthy bitterness. It’s begging to be included in your next margarita or paloma, but a simple spritz of fresh lime would also do.
2. Lemon Lavender
Hellooo, refreshing. It smells like a citrusy Pinot Grigio and honestly sort of tastes like one, too. This crowd-pleaser is made with local lemons (rinds included for their essential oils) and lavender, which imparts a subtle earthiness to the apéritif. Dried chamomile is added for sweetness, as well as bay leaf for herbal aromatics and coriander seed for complexity. Overall, it’s floral, juicy and bright with citrus flavor. With a splash of soda water in the mix, it’s even more refreshing. We’d love to try it in a vodka lemonade or gin and tonic (bonus points for using lavender-infused gin).
3. Ginger Yuzu
She’s spicy, she’s bold, she’s sophisticated—we have no complaints about this aromatic number. It’s made with both fresh and dried ginger for a spicy, earthy finish. Yuzu is a common citrus fruit in Japan that’s famous for its zesty scent and unique taste, which some people say is like a cross between grapefruit, lime and lemon. Haus uses Californian yuzu when it’s in season and leans on hand-zested yuzu peel from Japan in the off-season. They also add Egyptian lemongrass for tang, dried cherries for tartness and acidity and South African rooibos tea for an herbaceous note. We could see it working wonders alongside gin and ginger ale or vodka and a spritz of fresh lemon.
4. Spiced Cherry
Dried Michigan cherries and cherry bark unite with cocoa nibs, ginger tea and coriander seed for a fruity, complex sipper that flaunts the fruit’s natural flavor beautifully. With the help of anise seed and Indian tellicherry pepper, the sweet cherry essence is cut with licorice-inspired bittersweetness and spice. Orris and gentian roots are also added for extra bitterness. It’s so juicy and fruit-forward that we can see it pairing with something smooth and oaky like whiskey. It’d also taste wonderful in a cocktail with spiced or vanilla-forward rum.