Is it our hot and humid summers that make the South a place that loves its soda? Whether you drink it straight from the bottle or over ice, we’ve got three Southern sodas we think you should try.
Ale-8 from Ale-8-One Bottling Company
The folks at Winchester, Kentucky’s Ale-8-One have been bottling soda since 1902. The story is that founder G. L. Wainscott was fascinated by a carbonation machine he saw on a train. Inspired, he began bottling carbonated beverages and created a soda recipe he took to the 1926 Clark County fair. A slogan contest there led to the name which can be read “A Late One” meaning “the latest thing.” The company now makes two flavors, the original Ale-8-One, cherry Ale-8, and zero sugar versions of each. We sampled the original flavor made with ginger and citrus. It’s a light combination of flavors, and it’s lightly carbonated. The combination makes it eminently drinkable. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all our testers. We think it’s a soda that will appeal to everyone from the kids to their grandparents.
$2.99 per 4-pack. Available at Kroger. https://ale8one.com/
Spicy Ginger Ale from Ginger’s Bunkhouse
“Spicy” is exactly the right word for this ginger ale that comes out of the Manhattan Cafe in Athens, Georgia. There’s a back of the throat burn when you first start sipping that mellows out as you enjoy the bottle, or if you drink it over ice. Manhattan Cafe is a neighborhood bar with a signature cocktail - Spicy Ginger Ale and bourbon. When their favorite brand of ginger ale had production problems, they created their own and now they share it with the rest of us. Their website offers three recipes to try including our favorite, the Orange Blossom Special (since we’re not huge bourbon fans). But this ginger ale is also absolutely delicious just on its own. And they’ve just been named a finalist in the University of Georgia’s Flavor of Georgia competition. Stay tuned to see if they win when the judging is finalized in April.
$5.99 per 4-pack of 12-ounce bottles. Available at Grant Park Market, 519 Memorial Drive SE, Atlanta. http://www.bunkhousebeverages.com/
Sodas from New Creation Soda Works
The small town of Bishop, Georgia, southwest of Athens, is home of New Creation Soda Works. Founder Paul Kooistra took the town’s old turkey hatchery and turned it into a place to hand craft some of the most unique soda flavors we’ve tried. It was hard to pick a favorite. Root beer may not be an unusual flavor for soda, but someone in my household swears New Creation’s Root 42 Old Time Root Beer soda is the best he’s ever tasted. Krümkake is butter pecan cream soda, which quite frankly our tasters expected not to like at all. Yet it was a huge hit. And Nada, their strawberry habanero flavor, tastes of real strawberries (no artificial flavors) with just a hint of heat from the habaneros. All delicious, all refreshing. All are light so we understand why Kooistra says serving them over ice will just dilute the flavor. Refrigerate and enjoy.
$10 per 4-pack. Available online at https://newcreationsoda.com/.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.