Many restaurants around the USA are finding that taking the extra step to make their own sodas is paying off and giving those who choose not to drink alcohol interesting options.
“We’ve been making sodas using organic Italian syrups and a soda gun for years,” says Orla Murphy-LaScola, co-owner, American Seasons, Nantucket, MA. “Now we’re making sodas that are completely different from anything on the market near us with syrups made from herbs from our own garden and simple fruits. The most popular are lavender and sweet tea grapefruit.” The sodas are not as sweet as soft drinks, and Orla explains the flavors are chosen to complement their food. The syrups are mixed with two-thirds soda water from a soda gun and one-third water, so the drinks are not too fizzy. Orla says they sell well (at $3.50 for 16 oz.) and are also good bases for alcoholic drinks. . . . The sauciers at Sino Restaurant & Lounge, San Jose, CA, are in charge of making the flavored syrups with ingredients they frequently use in the kitchen – ginger, kumquat, basil, lemongrass, and mint. “Our specialty sodas are very refreshing and a good match with our cuisine,” says Heather Connery, corporate marketing director, Straits Management. A 16 oz. soda costs $3.50-$4 and Heather notes that sales are very strong at lunch and dinner – almost twice that of beer. “These sodas are a great option for those who don’t want to drink alcohol, but want to join in by drinking something delicious and festive, and for kids”. . . .In order to make its own flavored seltzers, Northern Spy Food Company, New York, NY, rented a new version of an old-fashioned seltzer tap that co-owner Chris Ronis found online. Four or five flavors are available at one time – always lemon/lime and others made from seasonal fruits and vegetables – strawberry rhubarb, cucumber mint, quince, Concord grape, figi apple, and a coffee seltzer (made from thick, cold-brewed chicory coffee) is very popular at brunch.” Prices for 16 oz. are $4 for fruit seltzers, $2 lemon/lime, and $1 plain seltzer and are determined by the cost of ingredients and labor involved. Chris says equipment rental and CO2 tanks cost about $100 a month, which is easily recouped in a day or two. He advises renting rather than buying equipment and to make use of seasonal fruits and vegetables that are already being used in the kitchen. . . .David Yudkin, owner, Hot Lips Pizza, Portland, OR, says, “It took us a while to get the formula right for our house-made draft sodas. We wanted to make them with cane sugar, not high fructose corn syrup, and real fruit, buying only from local farmers.” We filter out the seeds but not the pulp, resulting in high percentages of real fruit. Boysenberry, black raspberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, apple, and pear draft sodas sell for $2.50 a pint, and David says they account for 60% of beverage sales.