Restaurant Refreshers

The fresh, wholesome ingredients found in many artisanal beverages have become strong sellers for many retailers. And if the number of these brands exhibiting at this March’s International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York were any sign, many restaurants will soon be serving them as well. The show was filled with memorable beverages, many of them just starting out, that will probably continue to reinvigorate the artisanal beverage space for some time to come.

Joe Nicholls, part owner of Dandy Lion Tea says his grandfather, Dom Pagano got the idea for this dandelion-based tea from growing up in Italy. “My grandfather originally started making it when my grandmother was ill because she didn’t want to eat anything,” Nicholls explains. “It has healthy properties. People who have liver disfunctions are told to add it to their meals because it cleanses the liver.” Their tea is a unique combination of fruit and dandelions, among other natural ingredients with nothing artificial. It is available in Peach Power, Apple Roar and Royal Orange.
 
A number of artisanal sodas at the show had their roots in Brooklyn, N.Y. One of them, Bruce Cost Ginger Ale, is made with ginger so fresh it floats in the bottle. Recently, the Hudson Common by Morgans Hotel Group began serving Irish Soda made with Jameson and this ginger ale. Launching this spring is the brand’s newest flavor, Passion Fruit. Says Kevin Li, marketing manager, “Our ginger ales are made with fresh ginger, cane sugar, water and citric acid and tastes like home made ginger ale.” Other flavors include Pomegranate with Hibiscus, Original and Jasmine Tea.
 
Another brand from Brooklyn, P&H Soda Co., offers soda syrups handcrafted from all-natural whole ingredients. No high fructose corn syrup, flavorings, extracts or colors go into the syrups. Some of the country’s leading restaurants and bars use P&H syrups for sodas or cocktail mixers. Varieties include Cream, Lime, Ginger, Grapefruit, Lovage, Hibiscus and Sarsaparilla. 
 
From further up the Eastern Seaboard comes Maine Root handcrafted beverages, with its sodas that are made with organic evaporated cane juice, carbonated purified water, natural extracts, spices and botanicals. Among its newest flavors is the seasonal Pumpkin Pie Soda and a slightly spicy Mexicane Cola.
 
Spindrift Soda calls itself “America’s first soda made with fresh squeezed ingredients.” The brand is made with triple filtered water, fresh squeezed fruit and crushed berries, a dash of cane juice and nothing artificial. Varieties include Grapefruit, Blackberry, Orange Mango, Lemonade, Half & Half and Cranberry Raspberry.
 
Caveman Foods was also on hand at the show with its naturally fermented sodas, also known as water kefir. The brand is based on the idea that indigenous peoples were able to sustain themselves on unrefined foods. The flavors go back to the basics with pure and simple ingredients that include vanilla, original, black pepper, tarragon and saffron.
 
Ayala’s Herbal Water infuses organic extracts of herbs into water to create such interesting flavors as Lavender Mint, Cloves Cardamom Cinnamon, Ginger Lemon Peel and Lemongrass Mint Vanilla, among others. 
 
And finally, RAAW offers a variety of fruit and vegetable juice combinations without any added sugar, preservatives, water, artificial dyes, colorings or fillings. Flavors include Strawberry Purple Carrot, Mango Guarana and Cranberry Ginger.  
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