Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sodas, Sodas, Everywhere

I've written in the past about a variety of sodas, and have a habit of collecting sodas that sound interesting. Unfortunately, I sometimes let them sit around awhile before I get to drinking them.

So on the last Saturday of February, in honor of "Open That Bottle Night," I opened a bunch of sodas that I have been meaning to try. I know, I know, that isn't what they meant, but I don't do very well in the "save this for a special occasion" department when it comes to wine and spirits - I seem to have no trouble finding special occasions to open the good stuff. Sodas, on the other hand...

Here are the sodas we tried, in no particular order, with some tasting notes and comments.

Zota Green Tea Sodas
My friend Daniel Sviland at Prairie Grass Cafe recommended these sodas to me awhile back, and even gave me some to try. We tried these varieties:
  • Ginger - fresh ginger aroma and taste, not all the way to ginger beer, but more flavorful than most ginger ales. The tea aspects come through nicely and marry with the ginger, creating a spicy finish. My favorite of the three.
  • Raspberry - very sweet, with the smell of berries; the raspberry flavor reminded me of lambic beers. The berry notes dominated; very little, if any, of the tea came through.
  • Orange - great orange soda flavor, with hints of tea and spice; like a (somewhat) grown up version of the orange soda I loved as a kid. Yum.
As you might expect, the ginger plays well in cocktails. We found some ok, but not fantastic, uses for the other flavors. Here's a cocktail we came up with on the fly with the ginger:

2 oz Rye Whiskey (used Sazerac 6 yr)
1/2 oz Triple Sec (used Cointreau)
Dash of grapefruit bitters (used Scrappy's)
Zota Ginger Green Tea Soda
Combine first three ingredients in rocks glass with ice; top with Zota soda. Garnish with swath of orange peel.

Unfortunately, the company's website isn't working, and I can't find much about them - I'm not sure you can find these anymore. Apparently, the company went out of business in 2005, then was relaunched in 2007 (in the comments), so I don't know what the status is now. I've had these bottles since about mid-2009, I would guess, and they tasted just fine.

Dry Sodas
I tried some other varieties before, but hadn't yet tried the kumquat and rhubarb flavors of Dry Soda. Unfortunately, I think my bottle of rhubarb sat around too long, it was pretty blah, without any discernable rhubarb flavor. The kumquat, however, had very nice orange/kumquat flavors, and was a dry, light soda. Definitely could be used in place of soda in drinks if you want more orange notes. Gotta get another bottle of that rhubarb, and open it sooner, next time.

Cricket Pomegranate Raspberry Green Tea Soda
Cricket makes/made their colas using actual kola nuts, among other all-natural ingredients. This one had more pronounced tea notes than any of the Zota sodas, and nice fruit notes. It was not overly sweet, and was one of my favorite sodas for consuming on it's own. I tried mixing it a few ways, with light rum, dark rum, and gin as the base, and nothing really wowed me. I might just have to keep this one for drinking on it's own.

According to the all-knowing wikipedia, the company was sold, and the buyer no longer lists their products on the website. You might have trouble finding this one too, unfortunately.

Kristall Swedish Raspberry Soda
The Kristall beverage company actually makes a variety of fruit-flavored sodas, but I've only ever seen (and now tried) the raspberry version. It was light and fruity, with nice raspberry flavor. It is a bit on the sweeter side, but might make for a nice change of pace in a drink requiring soda that contains complementary flavors.

Well, there you have it. Now my collection of unopened sodas is much smaller, at least until I see some more new ones on my travels.


Mike Ryan said...

Hey Sonja,
I don't think your bottle of rhubarb sat around too long, as I picked one up fresh and it just tasted vaguely woody.

~Sonja~ said...

Thanks Mike, I don't think I'll pick up another one then. Too bad, I was hoping it'd get better!

Blakesmommy2008 said...

i cant believe how many zodas there are!

Bob White said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michael Spiker said...

First time I've been on this blog. I wonder what most people want from a mixer. I don't know what most are trying to achieve. I'm guessing that mixology is more about masking strong alcohol taste.

I've tried very strong moonshine. There's a quick buzz to be had. If all you are seeking is the buzz, then 180 proof will get you there soon enough.

I have a real question. There are thousands of mixed drinks to choose from. Focusing particularly on those using a carbonated mixer, I wonder if most people use them because they like the fizzies or because of the way the flavor of the mixer masks (or blends) with the alcohol taste. What do you think?

Example: Scotch 'n Soda on the rocks quickly becomes Scotch & Water on frozen water as the fizzies dissipate fairly quickly. At that point, you have diluted scotch whiskey in water until all that's left in the glass are a couple of ice cubes. So why the soda in the first place? Rum 'n Coke I can understand. The cola flavor does much to mask the alcohol taste and the additional water further dilutes the alcohol. Fizzies disappear in that concoction rapidly as well. Do some mixers maintain their fizzies longer than others?

~Sonja~ said...

Hi Michael,
I think the reason for using mixers varies. For some, it's about masking strong taste, but for most, I think it's about adding a texture or flavor to a cocktail. I like "fizzies," and I like the brightness you can achieve in a cocktail by adding carbonated soda water. Some sodas do maintain their bubbles better than others; and if the drink is well balanced, it likely will be consumed before the bubbles have dissipated. A splash of soda or accent of a flavored soda can sometimes work wonders - not to mask, but rather to enhance and contribute to the overall taste experience.

My two cents, anyway. And I like my Scotch neat, or with a few drops of water - not sure why anyone wants soda in it.