HVADC Client: Currant Cassis
Apr 1, 2023
Currant Cassis (C. Cassis to its friends) is a truly unique liquor made in Rhinebeck New York.
The specialty beverage company, founded by Rachael Petach in 2018, recently moved from a small facility in Catskill to accommodate her growth in operations. Through its AgriBusiness Loan Fund HVADC provided support in the form of an equipment loan, to facilitate the move and new equipment purchases.
On the increasingly crowded, “distilled in the Hudson Valley” shelf of the liquor store, C. Cassis stands out, and not just because of its instantly recognizable, expressionist “C” logo, designed by Petach’s husband, and graphic designer Steven Quested.
Using currants grown by Staatsburg-based farmer and botanist Greg Quinn, who led the charge in 2003 to unban the berry’s cultivation in New York State. Production in the U.S. had been banned since the early 20th century when it was found that the Currant plant was a threat to White Pine. C. Cassis is making a versatile, “vermouth-y” drink that’s not sweet like the more common crème de cassis. It is made by hand using blackcurrants, whole green cardamom, bay leaf, citrus rind, lemon verbena, wild honey and clean distilled spirits. Petach says it’s great in a Negroni, Manhattan or as a spritzer. New cocktails using C. Cassis are being invented all the time, and “Currant is friendly with almost all spirits, so there’s room to play around and find your favorite.”
“I had Cassis in one of those Proustian moments at 19, traveling in France with six euros to my name,” Petach recalls. She later worked on a farm in France and came to understand and love the savory elements in the flavor profile of fresh black currants. “Sugar masks that complexity.”
The company is also selling merchandise, designed by Quested, in the style of their logo and branding. The au courant graphics can be had on shirts, socks, highball glasses and even picnic blankets. C. Cassis also now sells a pre-canned spritz and a Salted Currant Compote.
Petach was able to grow her business quickly after getting it off the ground in the kitchen of her Brooklyn apartment. Petach and Quested moved up to the Hudson Valley in January of 2020, just before the COVID lockdown. Through the pandemic C. Cassis succeeded quickly in a space they loved, but quickly outgrew.
Now C. Cassis has moved from what Petach lovingly referred to as a “400 square foot clown car” to a 3,500 square foot barn, renovated by Morgan Coy. The new space affords C. Cassis the room to upscale as well as build out a tasting room, projected to be up and running this summer.
The move came with a lot of expenses and a need for new equipment. Petach found HVADC while searching for locally based funding solutions. She said she appreciated that HVADC specialized specifically in local farm and food business funding.
“I thought HVADC was great,” said Petach, who worked directly with HVADC Deputy Director Mary Ann Johnson. “Although there was a longer timeline than we expected, through it all Mary Ann was great and really supportive.”
Before starting the business Petach worked in hospitality operations, which gave her foundational experience in management.
“Rachael has done something very special. In a short time she’s gone from an apartment kitchen to a serious full-scale production operation,” Johnson said. “The quality of her product blended with her business acumen is the perfect cocktail. HVADC is happy to have been able to help C. Cassis stir it up!”
To learn more about the HVADC AgriBusiness Loan Fund program, visit https://www.hvadc.org/loans-and-grants-english.