The way third-generation winemakers Helena and Woody Hambrecht tell it, this is how Europeans have been drinking forever. And it’s why they created their own unique low-ABV aperitif spirit, Haus. “Aperitif culture is a way of drinking,” Helena told me, an approach to social drinking that leads to deeper connections throughout the evening, without the accidental drunkenness. “It’s about control.” And it’s not limited to before-dinner drinks.
You could describe Haus as an aromatized wine, but it’s lighter, and there aren’t any headache-inducing mystery ingredients. They start with a natural, low-sulfur chardonnay base and botanicals, some grown on their own Healdsburg, California farm, to create a “sessionable” 15% ABV spirit. It’s designed for flexibility -- an ounce or two on the rocks, with sparkling water or juice, or as a lighter sub in a cocktail. Currently there are three varieties: an amaro-like, lightly-spiced Bitter Clove, the Citrus Flower, made with meyer lemon peel and real elderflower, and a Rosé that’s expected to return in time for the summer season. The Hambrechts avoid artificial flavors or colorings, so it hits that all-natural, better-for-you sweet spot.
I was so taken with the barely-sweet, botanical blends when I tried Haus with the Hambrechts that I went and ordered a bottle for a fancy dinner party I had the following week.
That’s right, ordered. The Hambrechts are so into disrupting drinking culture, you’re not even going to find Haus on store shelves. Instead, you order it online, and it comes with this charming little ‘zine that shows you how it’ll fit into your lifestyle. And you can even sign up for a subscription, so the Haus keeps on coming to you, just like your quip toothbrush and your Billie razors, only much more fun.