international

Lorina: Pink Citrus Lemonade

History: Throw on your best dress wear, get out the fine china, and put your pinkies in the air because we are about to get into some high-class soda. Glistening a soft pink hue in its 750 ml swing-top bottle sits a soda so sophisticated, you’d swear it was some sort of champagne. And it is. Sort of. Not really. Lorina brands itself as “the champagne of sodas.” It’s French. No wonder it’s so fancy. Lorina is the kingpin of gourmet soda in France, and it’s been around since 1895. That was the year Victor Geyer invented Lorina’s famous lemonade in the little village of Munster, France using local spring water, beet sugar and real lemon juice. To this day, Geyer’s name still appears on the neck of the bottle. According to Lorina Marketing Coordinator Maëlle Mauvieux, the company’s soda recipes are all still their original formulas, sans preservatives. Those were removed to ensure a healthier soft drink. All Lorina soda is made with real beet sugar, “water from the Vosges,” no GMO’s, no caffeine, and no artificial flavors or colors. An interesting note about Lorina is that the company divides its soda into two different lines: the high-end “French Prestige Icon Collection” and the more casual “Parisian Style Soda Collection.” The former comes in a tall glass swing-top bottle. Mauvieux notes that each bottle is still homemade and hand-plugged.

Today the company is headquartered in Paris, France and produces seven flavors of soda. According to Mauvieux, Pink Citrus Lemonade is the company’s top-seller, followed by blood orange and lemon. She goes on to make an unexpected claim about the pink citrus lemonade, saying “I think you’ll notice the lime…. It’s not like a sparkling lemonade,” but instead is both sweet and tart. At this point, we weren’t sure what we were getting. I don’t think my sister knows what she’s getting in her future husband either. But I guess five months in prison isn’t that long. Maybe they’ll be serving the “champagne of soda” at their wedding. We asked Mauvieux why this was Lorina’s tagline and she told us that the soda has small champagne-like bubbles and was confident that its carbonation would “meet U.S. customer expectations.” Lorina is undeniably beautiful to look at and the company certainly exudes confidence in their products. It’s up to the Pink Citrus Lemonade to back up the talk.

Where to get: Lorina is distributed worldwide. You can buy it online via Amazon or even Wal-Mart.

Nose: Smells strongly of lime, kind of like a limeade from Sonic.

Taste: Lime; tartness; citrus; sweet lemon. This is has a bold citrus bite. You can taste the authenticity of the lemon and lime juices. It starts with the lime, which is interesting considering this is labeled as a lemonade. The lime is quickly followed up by fine little champagne bubbles that intensify the tartness of the juice. There’s a tart bite that’s distinctly citrus and not harsh. This washes away in favor of a sweet, slightly dry lemon. This might be a bit of a reach, but the second half of the sip has very much the mouth feel of a dry wine with sweet lemon in place of grape. Still a lot of citrus to the lemon flavor, more than you’re used to in carbonated lemonades. Again, that authenticity is there. The faster you drink this, the more of a bite you’ll get from the lime and lemon.

Finish: Lemon juice that weaves between sweet and sour with the sour notes slightly more present. Interesting considering the lemon flavor in the soda’s body only has sweet tasting notes. A very nice, complimentary finish.

Rating: This is what all citrus soda should strive to accomplish. Lorina has crafted a bold lemon-lime soda with sweet fruity notes in the background that justifies the “Pink Citrus Lemonade” name. There’s a tremendous balance of sour and sweet. The lime is immediate, bold, and tart in its citrus flavor. The lemon follows up in a fashion that’s distinctly more citrus soda than lemonade, while maintaining a balanced sweetness to counter the lime. I wouldn’t even mind seeing a little bit more of the sour profile dance around in the second half of each sip. Lorina’s Pink Citrus Lemonade is crisp, tart and refreshingly honest in its flavors. The French taught us all how to kiss and they’ve once again created something we all want to put our mouths on. The bottle is elegant, the swing top is sophisticated, and the liquid is delicious. If we had to muster a comparison, I’d say Lorina’s Pink Citrus Lemonade is what Sprite could be if it were made with all-natural ingredients and added a little fruitiness. Lorina is France’s number one carbonated beverage brand. It’s apparent our French counterparts understand the soft drink industry. America may be the superpower of soda, but we’d be well-served to steal a few tricks from the French soda jerks. Do we approve? Oui. Merci, Lorina.

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Six Barrel Soda: Celery Soda

History: The American influence is everywhere, and sometimes even when it isn’t, people will go out of their way get it or make it up themselves. For example, if you’re an American, you could travel 16 hours around the world to the beautiful island country of New Zealand and you’ll still find a little piece of home at a joint called Six Barrel Soda. “I have always loved old school Americana stuff…. Soda has such a great history and there is so much to work with flavour wise,” says Six Barrel Soda Co-founder Joseph Slater. Founded in 2012 in Wellington, New Zealand, the business came about after Slater and his childhood buddy and business partner, Mike Stewart, started serving increasingly popular homemade teas and sodas at their bar in Wellington. They quickly realized they were onto something and moved away from the bar to put all their energy into the soda business. But first, for those of you unfamiliar with New Zealand, a brief lesson. Here are three things we think you should know. 1. As mentioned, it’s gorgeous. 2. They filmed the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movies there (I bet they’re so sick of hearing this one). 3. And most importantly, they have THESE things. Apparently something survived the Jurassic period. Stay the hell away from them. That is a real, living thing. If you see one, you won’t be. Moving on. Slater says craft soda hasn’t quite hit it big over there the way it has in America. In essence, these guys have cornered the gourmet soda market over there and they’re trying to do it in a way that ensures they stay on top by using premium ingredients, real sugar, and no preservatives. They also just have that artisan feel nailed down. Just look at their website and packaging. There’s a sophistication to their presentation.

But just as important to their business model is the willingness to be different. “We also try to do flavours that people might not have tried before or are unique to us. Our Celery Tonic is probably our most iconic flavour, we use celery seed, cucumber, apples, ginger and fresh celery,” adds Slater. Now don’t let the label “tonic” fool you. Their Celery Tonic is actually a soda. And how can you let a man who makes his own soda by hand ship it to you from across the world and not review his most popular product? That said, we’re reviewing the sarsaparilla. Just kidding, we’re reviewing the celery soda. (Immediately I realized this joke didn’t work because of the title and photos in this post. F#%k it, I’m leaving it in.) Currently, Six Barrel Soda has five bottled flavors with a sixth seasonal flavor that rotates. If you hit that link, you’ll also notice they produce a line of soda syrups. The shop also serves coffee and fries, but their commitment is unquestionably on liquid. In their own words, “We’re drink makers not chemists.” And in an age where “flavor chemists” are becoming more popular, it’s interesting to see the Kiwi’s making soda Americana-style with more good ole fashioned elbow grease than a lot of soda companies here in the states. Or something like that. And according to Slater, you might just see Six Barrel Soda pop up in America some time in the future. So stay tuned.

Where to get: According to Slater, Six Barrel Soda supplies “bars, restaurants, cafes, grocery and gift store across NZ, Australia, Singapore” and soon, Korea. Americans, your best bet is to email the company and see if something can be worked out. Six Barrel Soda sells their soda online and ships throughout New Zealand.

Nose: A balance of celery and apple juice with the celery becoming more prominent the longer you sniff.

Taste: Celery seed; apple juice; cucumber. Six Barrel Soda Co.’s Celery Tonic tastes light on sugar and rich in celery. You can really taste the celery seed as well as the cucumber. For a soda with two vegetables in it, this is refreshing and palatable. The apple juice provides a mild sweetness. The celery flavor lingers the longest. The cucumber provides some slightly bitter notes. The carbonation is very, very light. The ginger isn’t obvious in the flavor profile, but if you search for it, it’s there.

Finish: Lingering celery with a stronger cucumber flavor than in the body of the soda. Not sweet or savory. Right in the middle.

Rating: Celery is a vegetable you’re 100 times more likely to find in soup, but Six Barrel Soda Co. has no time for your culinary limitations. This is a soda made with two vegetables, but luckily doesn’t taste like vegetable soda. The primary flavors you’ll taste will be celery, apple juice and cucumber. All of them are mild. Celery is the most prominent, but don’t sleep on the cucumber, the soda’s most refreshing element and one that becomes more prominent throughout the duration of the drink. The apple juice does a nice job providing a sweetness, but I’d love to see the flavor more emboldened in the drink’s overall flavor profile. The celery and cucumber are both distinct, while the apple seems to be cast in a supporting role. I think a stronger apple would work really well with those two flavors. That said, Celery Tonic is a pleasant surprise. You don’t often expect a soda with a vegetable on the label to be something you want to drink, but I’d definitely down one of these on a hot day. Fans of botanical sodas or ones off the beaten path are almost sure to love this, but we’d recommend it to any sort of soda connoisseur. It’s an inventive take in an industry where innovation is half the battle to its customer base. Keep fighting the good fight, Kiwi friends.

1642 Cola

History: “Canadian people must have their own cola.” The thought kept running through the mind of 1642 Cola founder, Bastien Poulain. He admits the inspiration behind his creation stemmed from the fact that “there wasn’t a real Canadian coke.” A born Frenchman, Poulain now resonates most with Montreal and thus, wanted a cola that truly represented the city. This is the reason for the name 1642 Cola. For all you non-Canadians, 1642 was the year de Maisonneuve discovered Montreal. Poulain studied the business model of Breizh Cola in France, another soda with a strong regional identity that now commands 20% of the cola market share there. Armed with some knowledge, he really committed to the concept of being true to Montreal with his soda. Poulain notes “the ingredients are all made in Québec” (the province Montreal is located in). Another interesting note: instead of cane sugar, 1642 Cola has “Québec beet sugar” in it. 1642 Cola has some competition with Bec Cola for the king of Cola in Montreal. As the company looks to the future, Poulain says they’re working on a tonic and stevia cola. 1642 Cola is allegedly “a taste of Montreal.” I heard the same thing from a young lady I met there a couple years ago. Hope I don’t end up at the doctor’s office after this experience, too.

Where to get: To check out where 1642 Cola is sold in Québec, check out the company’s online locator. Canadians and Europeans can also buy the stuff online. Americans… as with many fun international sodas, your best bet is to contact the company and beg… at least for now.

Nose: Smells like classic cola, a little reminiscent of Coca-Cola, actually.

Taste: Crisp carbonation; classic cola flavor. The flavor here is pretty standard in terms of what you’re used to with cola. I’d say Coca-Cola is a pretty fair comparison. We’re not tasting the maple syrup influence. If anything, there’s a little bit of nuttiness on the back end, but it’s very minor. Some slightly fruity notes emerge in the body of each sip the more you drink it, but not enough to convince you this is drastically different from classic cola. This is straightforward in terms of cola: big, fizzy carbonation with classic cola taste.

Finish: Classic cola with a little bit of acidity from the bubbles.

Rating: 1642 Cola wanted to make a Canadian Cola because America had its own and their country didn’t. Poulain noted “there wasn’t a real Canadian coke,” and it seems he’s drawn heavily off classic American Coca-Cola. The flavors are as close to each other as we’ve come across in two unrelated brands. It really does taste like Canadian Coke in the most literal sense. There’s a classic crisp, slightly bitter head of carbonation in the beginning, followed up by traditional cola flavor. There’s some nutty notes near the end of each sip, but you have to really search for them. For a cola made with maple, we’re not tasting it. It must be very, very subtle… like my third marriage. If you’re in Canada and pining for something different that still reminds you of America, 1642 Cola should be your go-to. If you’re really wanting to taste that maple influence, you’ll have to have better maple senses than we did. 1642 is solid and works well as a mixer. A bottle here and there should tide you over.