When Beth Broussard lost her mother, Cindy, to stage 4 breast cancer in 2015, she wanted to find a way to honor her joyful spirit, quirky sense of humor, and love for the South Carolina Lowcountry.
“She and I were really close. We’d talk almost every day,” Broussard says. “I had a really hard time dealing with her loss and not having her as part of my life.”
Before her diagnosis, Cindy, who lived in Ohio, had planned to retire in Charleston, and one of her favorite spots to frequent on nights out was the now-closed Wet Willie’s, which served a variety of frozen daiquiri slushies with bawdy names. Broussard previously had a two-year stint as a bartender at Market Street Saloon, where the manager allowed her to experiment with crafting her own mixers and cocktail recipes. One day, when she was reading an old letter from Cindy that said how she looked forward to her next visit to Charleston, inspiration hit.
Broussard decided to combine Cindy’s love for frozen drinks and her skill of creating new cocktails and launched Cindy’s Twisted-Sicles, adult popsicles concocted with local premium spirits, in summer 2016. While there are businesses throughout the country that specialize in making boozy frozen pops, Broussard’s is the only one that is licensed and certified to operate in South Carolina.
“I was the first guinea pig, which was awesome and fun and exciting,” Broussard says. “I worked on recipes and taste-testing while working to get licensed.”
Cindy’s Twisted-Sicles — which will be known as Cindy’s Twisted Spirits following an upcoming rebrand — currently offers 12 different popsicle flavors made with vodka, rum, tequila, and bourbon. To tie in Cindy’s fondness for the Lowcountry, Broussard named the flavors after local landmarks and places. There’s Folly Jolly Beach (vodka infused with hard candies), Cooper River Hurricane (rum infused with passionfruit and pineapple) and Pinckney Pecan Lemonade (pecan bourbon and caramel bourbon with cranberry juice and pink lemonade), among others. Each flavor’s wrapper has a corresponding photograph that represents “something [my mother] enjoyed while she was here,” Broussard says.
In her five pops made with bourbon, Broussard exclusively uses Charleston-based William Wolf Whiskey. She credits founder Jim Goldstein for being an early mentor and helping her grow Cindy’s Twisted-Sicles. Broussard says Goldstein encouraged her to think creatively with her flavor combinations, advice that led her to develop the aforementioned Pinckney Pecan Lemonade pop.
“A lot of it is trial and error,” Broussard says on creating new flavors. “Bourbon and Coke [White Wolf Point] took me a year. I had a lot of different people taste test it. Now it’s one of our top sellers.”
Many of Broussard’s testers are her fellow tenants at KTCHeN, a commissary kitchen in North Charleston that provides much-needed, affordable prep space to small businesses and food trucks. Broussard operates in a SLED-certified room that is sealed off from the rest of the building due to her liquor license.
“With everyone in our commercial kitchen, I want them to try it and become my taste group,” Broussard says. “But I tell them, ‘I need you to be honest with me. Don’t say you like it to not hurt my feelings.'”
And that push for honesty has had a positive impact on product quality. “My pops have improved a good 75 percent,” Broussard says. “I thought they were great least summer. They’re by far better this year.”
In addition to bringing new vendors into the fold (you can currently find Cindy’s Twisted-Sicles at The Shelter Kitchen and Bar, The Ice Cream Team, Greekin’ Out SC, and Jonny Poppers, among other locations), Broussard is currently developing custom packages for weddings in which couples can personalize the wrapper label with their names or a special photo. If couples give Broussard enough notice, she also hopes to offer to make their drink of choice into a popsicle.
Broussard would like to eventually expand her business outside of South Carolina, relying on top-notch service to both vendors and customers. Broussard says that if someone purchases a popsicle from a vendor and doesn’t like it, she will replace it for free on her next delivery.
“Something you might not have in a drink, you may like in a popsicle. Something you like to drink, you may not like in a popsicle,” she explains. “If I’m going to have something with my mom’s name on it, I’m going to have the best product out there to the best of my ability and make sure everyone is satisfied with it.”
For Broussard, part of continuing to honor her mother’s legacy through Cindy’s Twisted-Sicles is to use her business as an instrument for good. She has sold her product for fundraisers benefiting various nonprofits, including Charleston Animal Society, and she employs veterans and people with disabilities to assist her at KTCHeN and during promotional events.
“I feel like not enough companies give back to the community,” Broussard says. “Yes, making money is important to a business, but if making money is the only thing you’re thinking about, then you shouldn’t run a business … I want to give back to the community. I think it’s incredibly important for businesses to do so.”