For Myriam Jean-Baptiste, Haitian cremas (or kremas) has always been a presence in her life — and on her family’s dining table. She recalls taking a first sip of the rich alcohol-based beverage as a kid, as that was about all that was allowed when you were not yet of drinking age.
“It was always part of my life, family heritage and traditions,” she recalls to ESSENCE. “Anybody that’s Haitian has a bottle of cremas, whether it is for christenings, first communions, weddings. Anything that’s celebratory, we have a bottle of homemade cremas on the table.”
Jean-Baptiste and her husband, Stevens Charles, are both Haitian, proud Haitians raised in Montreal, Canada. They have always loved the drink, which was consumed as a dessert. They loved it so much they decided to go into business making a concoction inspired by it. The couple is behind LS Cream Liqueur, the first Black-owned cream liqueur, a cordial made from a cremas recipe by Charles’ late grandmother, which she left, handwritten, in a Ziploc bag. The idea for the beverage came about after the couple wondered why it was so hard to find a good cremas when there wasn’t a special occasion.
“We were like, How come we’re not actually able to get this directly at the store?” she recalls. “Why is it we have to wait for our grandmothers or family members, older family members to make it?”
Jean-Baptiste watched her own mom make cremas growing up, and Charles had that Ziploc recipe. They took that experience and technique and got to work in 2013. They did their research, made the recipe and took it to friends, non-Haitian, non-Black, to try first at a party.
“We brought a bottle with us and put it next to the other liquors. We just stepped back and didn’t say anything. It was an old vodka bottle with cremas in it. We wanted to see what would be their reaction.” she recalls. “We started to see people gravitate towards it and just ask, ‘What is this? Oh my God, it’s so good!”
They took the feedback from their friends, which included making it a little thinner than the traditional recipe, went to a lab and made a new formula. They took the end result to the people whose feedback would be most important — the mothers and family members who had made the cremas they loved growing up. Not only did their final concoction win with family, it won gold at the annual WSWA wine and spirits competition in Las Vegas soon after for taste and quality before they even had a bottle on shelves. They were told they had a top quality cream liquor, and they do, with the LS cordial having delightful notes of cinnamon, coconut, nutmeg and vanilla, and it’s all shelf-stable. It’s since become available online, in stores in Florida and throughout the Northeast. Kenny Burns is an investor, and the brand will reportedly quintuple its revenue from this same time last year.
“It was the best decision I made in my life,” she says, noting that she and Charles left behind corporate jobs, sold their home with two kids and left behind a comfortable lifestyle to get their business off the ground. It paid off, and now, everyone wants to get their hands on a bottle, especially with the Christmas holiday approaching.
“The good thing about cremas and LS is you don’t have to wait for the holidays to enjoy it. It’s really a product you can consume year-round,” she says. It’s also versatile in how you can enjoy it.
“I like it when it’s very cold,” Jean-Baptiste says. “I don’t like to mix it with anything. I like to enjoy it simply on ice.”
But LS can work well in cocktails, including espresso martinis and white Russians. You can even take it further than that.
“You can also mix it in your recipes,” she says. “Tiramisu, icing on cake. There’s a lot of ways you can be very original. A lot of versatile ways to use it.”
As more people get exposed to the drink, taking it from family celebrations to the masses, she would like to see LS nationwide as well as in Canada, and is already making an effort to even make it available in different markets on the continent of Africa, and Europe. But as something that started simply as a way to enjoy a staple of her culture more often, she’s proud to see a little piece of Haiti end up on everyone’s tables soon enough.
“This is for us. It’s victory that runs through our veins. It’s something that we want to share with the world that’s not only for Haitians, not only for Blacks — it’s for everybody,” she says. “We’re bringing something new to the cream category so that we can share a piece of our heritage with everybody and make these connections.”
Check out five cocktails below that you can use this cremas-inspired liqueur to make this Christmas — or whenever the mood strikes! More can be found at creamls.com/cocktails.