Les Charlatans: apothecary of local flavors

Les Charlatans : apothicaire de saveurs locales

It was on a spring evening that I met Jeanne Boucharlat, from Les Charlatans , in her studio on Saint-Laurent Street in Montreal. Located very close to rue Beaubien, near the Van Horne overpass, its production premises have a window display in a small cactus and succulent shop, a very bright place in this sector of the boulevard.

In one corner of the shop is a small shelf where the bottles of Les Charlatans syrups, shrubs and tonics are lined up, just like in the apothecary. Indeed, the containers strangely resemble those in which the cough syrups found in pharmacies are normally bottled. The name Les Charlatans comes precisely from the old legend surrounding them who walked in public squares selling dubious remedies.

However, their elixirs are far from being doubtful and indeed only aim to awaken the creativity of consumers, whether for cocktails or to integrate into everyday meals.

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Jeanne Boucharlat, instigator of this company, welcomes me with good humor and immediately shows me the new labels of her products, freshly arrived at the workshop. Mother of two young children, entrepreneur and graphic designer, her weeks are definitely very busy. So much so that it was while chatting with me that she realized that her company was celebrating its 5th anniversary in a few days.

The idea of ​​Les Charlatans had been simmering in Jeanne's head for some time when, in 2012, she finally decided to put her plan in motion and go into business. The cocktail world was then in full swing. The launch of the first products took place in May 2013, with a superb brand image created by a friend who is also a graphic designer.

After some time, she teamed up with Nelson De Sousa in order to be able to delegate the administrative tasks and keep all her energies for production and creation. The production team can sometimes reach five people, acting in an anthill between the preparation of the ingredients, the cooking and the bottling.

And indeed, the range of products has expanded considerably in recent years, notably with shrubs , a mixture of vinegar and spices, tonic and new syrups. New flavors are also being created and its customers, like its collaborators, are eager to learn about them!

Lively and versatile

The original ingredients used by Jeanne make her brand unique. The interaction between fruits, vegetables and spices can sometimes seem special, but each mixture irremediably conquers the taste buds. All find their place in the counter of a savvy bartender, but also surprise by their versatility.

“The next objective is to get people to use our syrups in all possible ways. Here in Quebec, maple syrup has already conquered everyone and it sits in every house. My goal is precisely to make people realize that our syrups can also be used everywhere: in plain yoghurt, in a savory recipe, in dessert sauces…” . As for shrubs , mainly composed of vinegar, they can replace the latter in vinaigrettes and give a breath of freshness to summer salads.

Originally from France, Jeanne wants to introduce Quebecers to the tradition of syrups as she knew it in France. “The French put syrup in the water to create a sweet drink, like grenadine syrup. It's still unknown here, but the appeal of being able to choose the amount of sugar and the strength of the flavors is an asset, especially with machines like the SodaStream . “, she explains to me. And with the current revolution in the world of sugary drinks, it is certain that the option of syrups is in this line.

The Charlatans website also offers recipes directly related to the products in their range. Jeanne tells me about the complete approach to which she aspires: “We don't just want to sell a product; we also want to offer customer service, an experience! ". It precisely wants to expand its recipe offer, all with the aim of demonstrating the full versatility of the solutions it markets. In addition, gift sets are offered in order to propose agreements in advance and to make discover certain novelties in smaller format.

Local at all levels

Their products are not only designed, produced and bottled in Montreal, in this workshop in Little Italy, but the underlying local approach is also essential. “It's important for me to work with local and raw products, otherwise I wouldn't be so passionate about my job,” Jeanne tells me as she lists her suppliers. She notably gets her supplies from other local producers or processors such as Épices de Cru , Palette de bine , Kittel Café and the Ferme des Quatre-Temps .

Some cafes in the metropolitan area even use a syrup not (yet) marketed to the general public in the composition of their London Fog and which, in my humble opinion, must make the milk tea experience extraordinary. Large bottles are also delivered to many bars, where bartenders have fun with Jeanne's blends. A collaboration with the spirits company Cirka also creates a very interesting local loop.

This means that when a consumer buys a Les Charlatans product, he encourages the Quebec economy at all levels and discovers, by the same token, local agri-food talent.

The future of the Charlatans

In short, the values ​​of the company and the hard work of Jeanne, Nelson and their many collaborators will certainly take them far in their projects. To our delight, they will come to enhance our beverages and dishes with new elixirs, each more delicious than the next.

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