History: Three young dudes running a soda company… what could go wrong? Who knows, but fortunately for Cannonborough Beverage Company in Charleston, South Carolina, a lot has gone right. And a lot of it has to do with their location. Charleston is a city renowned for its local produce and fruits with a vibrant farmer’s market community. The farm-to-table movement is strong there. There’s a lot of plaid. People drink PBR in the afternoon. Lots of life talks. You get where I’m going? It’s a hipster town. People there are used to what’s authentic. So, with their boyish good looks and background in cocktail mixing, the guys at CannonBevCo set out to make sodas that appealed to a more health-conscious audience. “Sometimes you feel a little guilty drinking soda. We wanted to take the vehicle of soda we loved and elevate it a little bit,” they said. But they wanted to do it right. That background in the bar business has translated to their soda production. They use the same type of equipment used by craft beer brewers to make their soda. The three partners began at farmer’s markets in April 2012. They’ve since found their niche using a bevy of fresh, local options to create high-end, non-pasteurized, fruit sodas. Flavors are often dictated by season, with Honey Basil, Ginger Beer and Grapefruit Elderflower available year-round.
Where to get: Currently, Cannonborough sodas are available in about 50 restaurants throughout the Charlestown, South Carolina area. The company is set to soon nationally debut a 750 ml bottle that is shelf-stable, meaning it doesn’t have to be constantly refrigerated. Until then, the guys are more than happy to take orders directly. Expect shipping to be around $10-15 due to their larger 32 oz. bottle size.
Nose: Grapefruit; lemon; very soft orange; slight vanilla notes.
Taste: BANG, summer just smacked you in the mouth, yo! Extremely crisp, refreshing citrus taste. The tang of the grapefruit is immediate and then softens out with just a hint of sweetness and a mild floral note you get from the elderflower. I’m even getting a little bit of candied ginger, which is interesting because there’s no ginger in this soda. Most importantly, this tastes real. Cannonborough’s emphasis on sourcing local, fresh ingredients is evident. No syrupy, mouth-coating feeling with this soda. It has a little bit of a San Pellegrino thing going on, but its carbonation makes it more drinkable and its ingredients give it more flavor. This could be your Mountain Dew, hipsters! Those who don’t enjoy grapefruit obviously should avoid this. The grapefruit is very prominent, but never overbearing. I’d have liked to get just a little bit more sweetness in this to cut some of the tang of the grapefruit. But its drinkability is undeniable. This is pool party soda.
Finish: We kept drinking this over and over because we weren’t sure how this was happening, but there’s a very soft, floral candied cherry finish that comes from the elderflower. It’s extremely pleasant after the citrus zing. Best part of the soda.
Rating: It’s refreshing; it’s different; and most of all, it’s good. Hipsters, keep your pants on and put down your PBR. This is for you. Normal people, this is also for you. The bite of the grapefruit can be a bit much at times, but the elderflower aftertaste does a nice job at mellowing that out. Not many people make sodas the way these guys do. Everyone talks about being “all-natural” and using “real ingredients.” These dudes actually do it and the proof is in your mouth. If you’re willing to fork over a little bit more money than you’d normally pay for a soda, give the guys at CannonBevCo a call. You’ll be glad you did. And for you grown-ups: When mixed with an aged bourbon, this becomes the most dangerous mouthgasm-inducing cocktail you’ve had in a long time.