Tempe-based beverage company Chaco Flaco has launched a trio of naturally flavored canned cocktails statewide through partnerships with some of Arizona’s largest distributors, and has plans to develop neighboring states soon.
According to Chaco Flaco co-founders Chuck Moore and Steve Cislaw, the sparkling craft cocktails are now available at local retailers like Total Wine & More and AJ’s Fine Foods.
The three flavors are Strawberry Daiquiri, Mango Margarita and Vodka Berry Mule. The beverages use fresh fruits and vegetables, and are gluten-free, dairy-free and have no high fructose corn syrup. They are also low in sodium, sugar, and calories. Moore says each 12-ounce can has between 160 and 190 calories, and is six percent alcohol by volume (ABV).
Chaco Flaco means “Skinny Chuck” in Spanish, Moore’s longtime nickname.
A four-pack of cans retails for $15.99, which Moore admits is a “little higher priced.” But, he says, it shouldn’t be grouped with the White Claws and Topo Chicos of the world.
“It’s not seltzer,” says Moore. “It’s a real cocktail in a can.”
“The movement is educating the consumer and the vendors that it is a craft beverage,” Cislaw says. “It’s super craft – there’s nothing bad. It’s Whole Foods compliant.”
Moore developed the idea in 2012 while working as a bartender in south Tempe. He started using his NutriBullet blender to prepare fresh ingredients for margaritas. His concoctions were a hit, especially with the college sorority crowd, who loved the skinny, low-cal, low sugar beverage.
“Originally, we were a mixer company,” says Moore.
Although health-conscious products are an important part of the brand’s vision, Moore says all Chaco Flaco items carry a “flavor first” approach.
“As a bartender, I’d see so many alcohol products filled with preservatives and other chemical-laden ingredients,” Moore says. “I wanted our brand to represent clean products that don’t have to sacrifice taste to get there.”
Chaco Flaco has been racking up awards over the past couple of years, starting with four awards at the 2020 Las Vegas Global Spirit Awards, including a “Best in Show” platinum award for the company’s Mango Margarita. The beverage was chosen as the winner from 750 entries from around the world.
More recently, Chaco Flaco took home multiple nationally recognized accolades including two Double Golds, one Gold, two Consumers’ Choice awards and one Innovation award at The Sip Awards, three Silver awards at The Bartender Spirits Awards, and a Best in Show nod at the Nightclub and Bar Show 2021 in Las Vegas.
“We won 21 global awards before we even sold a can,” says Moore.
The brand launched in June, and quickly expanded into the Colorado and Nevada markets, Cislaw says.
“Colorado is an ideal place, a unique market,” he says. “The Denver suburbs were a perfect fit. Las Vegas is a unique market, too. Potentially our biggest market. It’s perfect for the pool party, night club scene.”
Next up is expansion in January 2022 into the San Diego market, and possibly Orange County and Los Angeles County not soon after, Cislaw says.
“We’re a lifestyle brand that fits with extreme sports like skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing,” he says. “Our natural aspect goes with the competitive athlete who excels at the highest level – and doesn’t put garbage in their body.”
The company’s three flagship beverages are presently available at AJ’s Fine Foods locations, Total Wine & More stores (Margarita only), Trevor’s Liquor Store in Scottsdale, Park Plaza Liquor & Deli and Lloyd’s Liquors in Prescott, Paradise Liquor Mini Mart on Southern Avenue, Thomas Market Liquors on Thomas Road, and Sunshine Market & Deli on 12th Street.
A few restaurants and bars in the Valley have Chaco Flaco, like The Local and Hob Nob in Chandler, Fat Tuesday and The Porch in Tempe, Handlebar Diner in Mesa, Cactus Jack’s Wine and Grill in Ahwatukee, Wasted Grain in Scottsdale, and La Cocina and Willie’s Taco Joint in Phoenix.
“Bartenders love them because you can get two low boys out of every can,” Moore says. “It basically doubles the back end.”