As consumers flock toward handcrafted products and away from high-fructose corn syrup, a door has naturally opened for craft soda makers.
Not unlike craft beer brewers, craft soda makers brew and bottle their own uniquely different concoctions, often using local ingredients. And while the craft soda industry is still small, we’ve seen growing interest from consumers, and increasing availability from brands.
During the recent National Restaurant Association Show, even mega brands PepsiCo and Coca-Cola were seen getting into the craft soda game, alongside established craft soda brands such as Reed’s and Jones Soda Co.
Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Reed’s all debuted premium fountain sodas at the show, introducing a new avenue of soda revenue for restaurants.
How are operators responding to the thirst for craft sodas?
Three house-made soft drinks are available with or without alcohol at the David Burke Kitchen Garden inside the James Hotel in New York City. The Gingerade features iced tea, ginger, lemon and honey; Wake-Up Carrot has carrot, orange and basil; and Garden Berry Spritz has mixed berries, mint, lime and sparkling water.
Boon Fly Café, inside The Carneros Inn in Napa, CA, serves a handcrafted draft root beer that bartenders make with sassafras root, vanilla, and spices from Monterey Spice Company. The team carbonates the root beer and serves it on tap on the draft beer line.
Hot Lips Pizza, in Portland, OR, details the ingredients of its handcrafted sodas on its website, offering an inside look at what goes into its fruit-based soda. Flavors include Black Raspberry, Hawaiian Ginger Ale, Lemon, Marionberry, Pear and Red Raspberry, with simple ingredients such as fruit, lightly carbonated water, organic lemon juice and cane sugar contained within.
Ca’ Momi Osteria in Napa, CA, imports several craft sodas directly from Italy that are made with old-fashioned Italian flavors, including bitter orange; elderflower with mint and lime; basil, thyme and sage. Brands include Borrea & Rossi, Baladin, Lurisia and J. Gasco.