CHACO FLACO DRINKS: How a Company Found Success by Making Drinks Healthier

Chaco Flaco Drinks has a long list of things distinguishing it from other drink producers. For starters, the company – which has a Day of the Dead-inspired mascot – produces low calorie, low sugar drinks. They also focus on their own unique twists to well-known drinks, including green Bloody Mary’s and berry mint mojitos.

We talked to Chuck Moore, CEO of Chaco Flaco Drinks, to find out what it takes to create unique twists to popular drinks.

CRUSHBREW: Chaco Flaco had a very unusual start. Can you give our readers some information on how you started the company, the inspiration behind it and the unusual name?
CHUCK MOORE: Chaco Flaco was spawned out of my kitchen, a little over four years ago, with the goal of creating an all natural mix with no chemicals, no preservatives and low calorie. Loving margaritas was one thing, but the acid reflux disease combined with the chemicals did not permit me to drink margaritas. I started making my own margarita mix and putting it into empty gallon jugs. Being a bartender for 18 years, I began taking my mix into Dos Gringos South Tempe in Tempe, AZ. One day, I was pouring margaritas for a group of college students and a gentleman across the bar asked me what they were drinking. I explained to him I made my own margarita mix and brought it to the bar to serve as an alternative to the usual high caloric, unnatural margarita mixes.

After the girls had a few rounds, the gentleman asked me to make him one. He tried it, thought it was fantastic and asked if I wanted to bottle it. When he asked if we had a name for it, the first thing that came to mind was “Chaco.” My nickname has been “Chaco” for most of my life and at that instance, I threw “Flaco” behind it (meaning “skinny” in Spanish). Thus creating the name Chaco Flaco (“Skinny Chuck” in Spanish).

From there, we raised some money, did our first run of about 150 cases and had it manufactured – but the manufacturing facility got it all wrong. They also added ingredients that were not approved initially. We had to leave that bottler and search for a new one.

While we sat on these extra cases, Dos Gringos was gracious enough to carry the remaining product and one evening a younger gentleman came in and asked me what was good to drink. I told him about a few specials and offered the Chaco Flaco Margarita as an alternative. He loved the margarita and mentioned he was the Assistant to the Forager of Whole Foods Market Arizona. I gave him my card and a year later I got an email from the Forager asking if we still had the margarita mix. I told her “yes we did and are working on six other mixers.” She gave us two weeks to make the mixes and bring them up for her to taste at Whole Foods Tempe. My wife and a fellow mixologist, Adam Vanslyke, worked two weeks straight in our kitchen to develop the perfect mixes. We delivered the products and they were a hit. We are currently in all Whole Foods in Arizona, AJ’s Fine Foods, local farmer’s markets, plus picked up our first Bashas and Harkins Theatre – all since our launch in 2015.  We’ve even created our own YouTube station called “Chaco Flaco TV,” where you can find Chief Executive Chef, Adam Allison, making food recipes out of our mixers. Chuck Moore, our CEO, demonstrates how to make drinks, as well as keeps you informed of things happening in our company.

CB: You started producing margarita mixes but now make a wide variety of products, including mojito, pina colada and the strawberry bandita. Can you walk us through some of those drinks and what kind of ingredients can we expect to find in them?
CM: Our product line includes the Original Margarita Mix, Berry Mint Cucumber Mojito, Strawberry Bandita, Dr. Skin and Bones Pina Colada, Forbidden Horchata, Bloody Maria and Verde Maria (the first ever green bloody mary in a bottle). Our approach to our ingredient mix is “less is more.” Our products are all natural, vegan and gluten-free. They contain no high fructose corn syrups, no preservatives, no artificial flavors, and no artificial sweeteners. The Bloody’s have 1/10th of the sodium content compared to the current mixes on the market.
CB: All your drinks are low-calorie, which is a massive challenge when producing drinks that are naturally sweet and rich in calories. How did you manage to preserve flavor while keeping things “waist-friendly”?
CM: It was easy, we hot pack our ingredients to keep the products preservative-free, we use agave nectar and xylitol to naturally sweeten the products and use no refined processed sugars. All the flavors are from the natural fruits and vegetable used in the mixes.

CB: How is Verde Maria made and what makes it so special?
CM: Our Verde Maria is primarily made with Hatch Chiles and Tomatillos, along with special secret ingredients that are all natural. The bloody’s do contain Worcestershire, which have trace amounts of anchovies (we are currently working on a vegan version)

CB: Any additions planned or anything new coming up soon for Chaco Flaco?
CM: We will be expanding into new regions with Whole Foods and other natural markets in 2016. We are also currently working on projects to expand our markets nationally and become the “official mixer” of several national sports outlets. We’ll also be launching our own line of all natural, vegan, gluten-free hot sauces to compliment our mixes.

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