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Stevens Charles and Myriam Jean-Baptiste from LS Cream.

Interviews

LS Cream: Haiti in a bottle

Myriam Jean-Baptiste and Stevens Charles drew inspiration from a traditional Haitian drink to create the award-winning LS Cream, a distinctive cream liqueur that embodies their pride, culture and entrepreneurship.

Published on February 5, 2024

LS Cream is the result of Stevens Charles and Myriam Jean-Baptiste’s passion and perseverance. To create this delicious liqueur, the couple drew inspiration from cremas, a quintessentially Haitian drink. “Myriam and I were born in Montreal,” said Stevens. “LS Cream is a fusion of our Haitian and Quebec roots.” 

Though we don’t need an excuse to extol the virtues of this product and its creators, Black History Month is the perfect opportunity to introduce you to them. That’s because the pair didn’t just want to create an alcoholic beverage—they also wanted to share a bit of their story and identity with the world. And for the rest of us, it’s a way to celebrate some of the best—and tastiest—aspects of cultural diversity.

Part tradition, part innovation

Unless you’re Haitian, you may not have heard of cremas before. It’s a drink that’s a staple at major celebrations and is an integral part of Haitian culture. Everyone has their own version, but traditionally, it’s made with sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk and spices. This beverage isn’t just tied to Haiti, either. As Stevens explained, “Whether you’re in Barbados, the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, every island in the Caribbean has its own creamy drink. Cremas is associated with Haiti, but the type of drink itself is like a bridge between the various Caribbean cultures. It’ll always make us think of home and the islands.”

Making cremas is often a family tradition that’s passed down from generation to generation. “Each family in Haiti has its own cremas recipe,” said Stevens. “We grew up with it!” added Myriam. “It’s really festive. Usually, you drink it during celebrations like communions, baptisms or birthdays.” With LS Cream, the partners wanted to create a version that would be suitable for every occasion. “We wanted to show that you can have it outside of the holiday season and that it’s a flavour everyone can enjoy and serve at any time of year.” 

With notes of nutmeg, vanilla, coconut and cinnamon, elevated with a hint of lime, LS Cream is unique in its category, but still has the sweet creaminess that people love. “Whenever someone tastes it, they always say it’s smooth and velvety,” said Myriam.

The secret is in the Ziploc

It all started at Myriam’s parents’ place. As with all of their family gatherings, there was a bottle of cremas on the table—or, more specifically, cremas that had been poured into a bottle left over from something else! “We said to ourselves that the artisanal trend is still a big thing, even after all these years. We could turn the taste of cremas into a product that people from all over can discover and enjoy,” recalled Stevens. However, he noted that they never wanted it to be like homemade cremas, much less take its place in Haitian households! “They’re complementary. We were inspired by cremas to create something new that people would want to drink at any time of year.”

It’s an homage to cremas—more specifically, to Stevens’s grandmother’s recipe. Whenever it was time to make a new batch, his aunts would bring out their mother’s precious handwritten recipe, which was kept in a Ziploc bag. When Stevens and Myriam decided to make a commercial version of it, they called one of his aunts to recreate that treasured recipe, which takes 10 hours to prepare. It’s no wonder some families only make it every 10 years! 

From table to the shelves

Wanting to bring this iconic beverage from the West Indies to the masses was one thing, but conquering the Quebec and American markets was something else entirely. It almost seemed impossible, especially given that neither of them had any business experience or knew any entrepreneurs they could learn from. “I attended big industry conventions. I didn’t know anyone. I started to talk to people and shake some hands. Eventually, I found a person to produce the bottles for us, then someone else to make the corks, and another to provide us with cream, and so on,” Stevens recalled. 

Myriam continued, “We took that first batch we brewed and hunkered down in a lab to do some testing. It took months to develop the final version that we presented to our relatives. We wanted to stay true to the original while adding our own personal touch.” LS Cream received the family’s blessing and the couple moved forward, thanks in particular to venture capital firm Fearless Fund, which supports businesses led by women of colour. 

Deliciously versatile

LS Cream is less thick than traditional homemade cremas and is intended to be easier to work into a variety of cocktails. To that end, it’s also made with neutral grain alcohol, making it incredibly versatile. You can enjoy it straight up as a digestif, on the rocks, in your coffee—let your imagination run wild! The product has been adopted by many bars and establishments in the US, including Polaris, a high-end restaurant at the Hyatt in Atlanta, where they use it to make a delectably chocolatey espresso martini. “In the summer, you can make Mudslides, iced cocktails, slushies,” said Myriam. “It’s fantastic, no matter the season!”

The liqueur has been featured in a creamy Old Fashioned, a piña colada with an orange Creamsicle twist, a cocktail inspired by key lime pie, and many others. You can also pour it over a scoop of ice cream or add some to sweet dishes like crepes, French toast, banana bread, crème brûlée—the possibilities are endless!

Give and give back

LS Cream was awarded a Gold Medal at the prestigious Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America competition held in Las Vegas. But Myriam and Stevens refuse to rest on their laurels. Myriam sees a future where their brand enjoys great success throughout North America, and she’d like to expand their offering with new flavour variations. But it’s also important to them both to continue giving back to the Haitian community.

 “There wouldn’t be an LS Cream without our cultural background, and that’s why we partnered with Hope for Haiti,” a non-profit organization that works to improve Haitians’ quality of life. “Our culture has given us so much, so we’re going to do what we can to give back,” Myriam said.

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