Oogave: Horchata

History: Oogave’s Horchata is a interesting bottle of flavor to welcome us back to the craft soda game after nearly a year-long sabbatical. To our knowledge, they’re the only company in the world besides Rocketfizz (and let’s be real, Rocketfizz… actually never mind, we don’t want to get in trouble) that has converted this milky, cinnamon and vanilla-forward drink into an effervescent carbonated form. For those not in the know, horchata is a beverage that originated in Spain made using cinnamon, vanilla, and tiger nuts, which look like what you’d expect if peanuts and cranberries got together and had an ugly kid. In America, where tiger nuts aren’t as popular, rice is often used as a substitute. Oogave is a brand owned by Rocky Mountain Soda Co. out of Denver, Colorado and as one might guess, they use agave syrup instead of cane sugar to sweeten their sodas. Fun fact: according to co-founder and flavor creator Drew Fulton, the company specifically uses organic Blue Weber light premium agave, the same type of agave used in high-end tequila, to create their syrup. It takes seven years(!!!) to age the agave until its ready to to use in Oogave soda. Dawg, the age of the agave used in this soda is older than most small children. Agave syrup is also actually sweeter than cane sugar, so it takes less of it to make Oogave sodas, meaning they’re lower in calories than most craft sodas. All Oogave sodas are also organic and vegan-friendly.

Oogave Horchata was introduced in 2017 and its inspiration is directly linked to food, according to Fulton. He goes on, saying “Denver has a really great Mexican and hispanic food scene” and that the first thing he does after getting back in town from a road trip is hit up his favorite taco stand where he noshes on green chiles and tacos al pastor. We won’t divulge his secret spot, but he gushes that they make “dank” horchata and that’s he had the idea to turn it into a soda for “three of four years.” Fulton says he wanted to balance the crisp and refreshing elements of a lighter craft soda with the “darker cinnamon, spice flavor and some caramel notes” that are present in horchata. We’ll give him credit. He’s swinging for the fences here. Usually these types of offbeat flavors are love-it or hate-it with no in between. I’m skeptical. But I can’t help myself.

Where to get: Rocky Mountain Soda StoreAmazon • Or find your local retailer here.

Nose: Earthy – not as much sweetness as I’d expect from a drink based on cinnamon and vanilla. Mild vanilla and caramel. Oaerall kind of like a very mild cream soda scent.

Taste: Creamy cinnamon, tangy vanilla that lingers, mild red hots, caramel, soft carbonation. The taste is so much different from the smell and it’s delicious. The first flavor of Oogave Horchata you notice is this creamy cinnamon that evolves as you drink it from almost like a cinnamon cream soda into an earthier, but mild red hot flavor. The backbone of the soda though, is a light, tangy vanilla flavor. It’s hard to describe another soda I’ve tasted it in; it’s a different vanilla flavor than one you find in cream sodas or root beers. More pulled back in terms of boldness, but there’s a zip to it that makes it stand out. A signature tangy taste that when combined with the cinnamon and mild caramel notes, really plays well. This is light and refreshing i.e. lemon lime, but with flavors foreign to that style of soda. It combines elements from different genres of craft soda into a whole new drinking experience.

Finish: The finish is light and crisp with subdued cinnamon and vanilla flavors. The carbonation really stands out here. It’s light and frothy and doesn’t overpower the flavors like some sodas. It’s such a hard experience to wrap my head around because the main flavors – vanilla and cinnamon – are typically associated with sodas that sit heavy in the mouth and the stomach. That’s not the case here. This is refreshing and inviting.

Rating: I gotta be honest – I was pretty hesitant about this at first. Not even based on the flavor, but because of the agave. To me, the backbone of craft soda is pure cane sugar, so to go in a totally different direction raised flags. But Oogave Horchata is proof that great craft soda is not bound by traditional ingredients or flavors. “Organic has the connotation of being good for you, but not good-tasting. We want to dispel that,” says Fulton. This is master craft at its finest, a rare feat of taking an unknown flavor from one sector of the culinary world and infusing it into another seamlessly. It’s crisp, refreshing, yet also sweet and comforting. Even if you’re not a horchata drinker or haven’t even heard of it, these flavors are familiar. Warm vanilla and lush cinnamon dance along the tongue and are pulled back from the shore by a final wave of crisp carbonation. It’s nicely carbonated and the flavors aren’t overbearing. Nothing gets in the way or overpowers anything else in this soda. The agave, dare I say, makes this even smoother? This is best served ice cold out of the bottle or with finely chopped ice in a glass. If you’re into the cocktail scene, try it with a dark rum floater, per the soda’s creator. I’m telling you, take a risk on this thing. It won’t let you down. It’s one of the best sodas we’ve had in the last year. Easily.


Oogave: Citrus Paradisi

History: Agave is an edible plant native to mexico. In the food industry, it’s used as an organic sweetening agent. You may know it as an alternative to sugar or honey. The plant’s sap is actually called “honey water.” Most of you probably only know about it because of its association with tequila. Bunch of drunks. Just kidding. Not really. There’s even a soda brand dedicated to it. Here’s the big thing about Oogave Soda: according to the company’s website, it uses certified organic Weber blue agave juice to sweeten its sodas instead of cane sugar. Hence the name. Subtle, I know. What’s not subtle is the process. Agave takes seven years to harvest! That’s like three marriages for some people. Just remember that plant worked hard to end up in your mouth, so you better enjoy it, pal. Oogave is a brand that was purchased by Rocky Mountain Soda Company in Denver, Colorado. The two companies formed a relationship in 2009 when the people at Oogave allowed Rocky Mountain Soda to use their bottling line as the Colorado soda jerks were in the process of rebuilding a 1968 bottling line of their own. At that time, Oogave was one of the only all-natural sodas on the market. Says Rocky Mountain Soda operating partner Moose Koons, “I think they were probably pioneers a little bit too early in the marketplace.” With people still pinching pennies from the recession, Oogave sold off the company and its equipment to Rocky Mountain Soda, allowing that company to quadruple its output. The mission of the Oogave brand remains the same: to be a low-calorie, high-flavor soda using all-natural ingredients. “There’s a great relationship between the natural flavors that we use and the agave flavor,” adds Koons. The Oogave Soda flavors changed variations in the hands of the old owners but have since been amended back to the original recipes and infused with bolder flavors, while the packaging has been rebranded. A perfect example is the soda we review here, Citrus Paradisi. The latter of the two words means “grapefruit” in Latin. Koons notes that with Citrus Paradisi, the company was looking to emulate a flavor profile similar to a bolder, more tart version of Fresca, a citrus soda that hit the height of its popularity in the 90’s. While almost no soda would be considered “healthy” for you, Oogave is about as close as it gets using organic ingredients with low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, and low-glycemic index counts.

Where to get: Oogave Sodas are available at known health food grocery stores like Whole Foods and Natural Grocers. Oogave is not as widely distributed as it once was, but Rocky Mountain Soda is working to get numbers back up. If you can’t find it in a store near you, it’s available to buy online via Rocky Mountain Soda’s website or Soda Emporium (make sure they carry Citrus Paradisi and not Grapefruit as the latter flavor is not the most current.)

Nose: Tart grapefruit; Fresca.

Taste: Tartness; grapefruit; agave syrup. Right off the bat, this is very crisp with a little dry grapefruit. There’s a citrus element to this akin to Fresca that permeates the palate for a few seconds before giving way to a mildly sweet flavor. This is the agave. If you’ve never had agave, it’s similar to honey, but more neutral in flavor. It’s not quite as sweet as honey. Crisp is a good buzzword to use for this. Refreshing and full of dry citrus.

Finish: Mild, tart grapefruit that quickly fades.

Rating: Oogave Citrus Paradisi is a quintessential warm weather soda. It’s light, crisp grapefruit flavors are mildly tart and refreshing. Easy-drinking for a day out at the pool. The grapefruit flavor isn’t overbearing, something that should be welcome news to soda connoisseurs. Grapefruit is a flavor that often gets overdone in soda as if to show off who can produce a more macho citrus flavor. Oogave reigns theirs in with the help of agave syrup that provides a neutral, yet sweet companion flavor. Some may be concerned about using agave as a sweetener in a soda instead of sugar. Don’t be. There’s still enough sweetness in this to be recognizable as a soda instead of some weird sparkling citrus thing. Still, I wouldn’t mind seeing the grapefruit turned up. It’s probably a little too mild. Oogave’s previous incantation of this soda was wildly tart, but Citrus Paradisi has been reformulated for a more neutral, dry citrus flavor that presents grapefruit in a palatable fashion. Citrus soda fanatics will drink this up as will lovers of dry sodas. I’d suggest maybe pairing it with vodka, but then again, can’t we say that about everything in life?