All Summer Long

Chinola Is Now Making a Mango Liqueur, and It's Just Right for Summertime Drinking

Mango margarita? Yes, please.

By Cooper Levey-Baker May 3, 2024

Arriving just in time for your summer pool party, the liqueur maker Chinola has unveiled a new variety, mango, that goes great with cool water, shady trees and lazy afternoons.

The new bottle is the company's first new offering since it launched its flagship passion fruit liqueur nearly a decade ago, and it represents a shift for the company from being just a passion fruit liqueur maker to being what co-founder, chief executive officer and chairman of the board Andrew Merinoff calls a "fresh fruit liqueur company."

The business "started in a blender in the Dominican Republic," says Merinoff, who labored for years with partners to create a shelf-stable fruit liqueur with no additives or additional flavorings. Developing the original passion fruit Chinola took four and a half years and 2,200 test batches.

Once it was ready, the company targeted high-end bars and creative mixologists to bring drinkers on board, but the Covid-19 pandemic threw a wrench into that strategy. According to Merinoff, the company was selling roughly 40,000 bottles a year before the pandemic. "We lost 95 percent of that in two weeks, and we thought it was doomsday," he says.

Image: Chinola

Chinola pivoted, though, and began marketing its product directly to consumers, eventually gaining a presence in specialty shops and larger stores like Total Wine & More. Today, Chinola can be found in 33 states and 13 countries, and the company expects to sell 40,000 cases this year.

With all that growth came the idea of adding new flavors, hence the new mango variety, which went on sale last month. While Chinola was able to apply the lessons it learned making the passion fruit liqueur to the new mango flavor, the new fruit posed significant challenges because of its fibrous texture. Merinoff says that changing growing conditions in the Dominican Republic, where all the fruit used in Chinola is grown and where the products are bottled, will also affect the flavor of the mangoes and the resulting drink.

While other popular liqueurs like Campari or Aperol are brightly colored but still translucent, both the passion fruit and mango Chinolas are cloudy, thanks to the company's use of fresh fruit, and they possess a thick, viscous texture. Pour some out, and the liquid clings to the glass.

Sounds great, right? But what does all this mean for that summer pool party you've got planned? How are you supposed to drink this stuff? "With the mango, people are drinking it straight, on the rocks or with club soda," says Merinoff. You can also plug it into any recipe that uses passion fruit Chinola. A mango margarita can be made with one ounce mango Chinola, two ounces of tequila or mezcal, one ounce of lime juice and a half-ounce of agave. Sounds good to me. I'll meet you at the pool.

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