Craft sodas were a trend in the northern hemisphere summer. Now they are expected to be just as big in South Africa this summer, writes Sacha van Niekerk
THE FIZZY drinks we once drank as kids come in an assortment of iridescent colours, pack a powerful sugary punch, and just a sip is enough to summon memories from childhood parties with polystyrene cups, stained mouths, and all.
Fortunately, for those of us who can no longer palate artificial flavouring or have jumped on board the natural-ingredient bandwagon, craft soft drinks, in a range of “grown-up” flavours, are pioneering the shift towards quality and authenticity in sodas.
Craft sodas available in rhubarb and Madagascan vanilla or grapefruit and lavender may not be the flavour combinations of your childhood, but with their growing popularity, it might be time to quench your thirst with something more sophisticated this summer.
From peach and habanero boasting sweet, tropical notes up-front and a tantalising burn that follows, to the crisp floral flavours of red apple and ginger with a peppery kick – these unique carbonated concoctions are at the centre of “craft sodas” that are starting to make an impact in the billion rand soft-drink market.
Also known as artisanal, specialty or small-batch sodas, these beverages promote the use of natural ingredients and inventive flavour combos that showcase local roots and creative packaging.
Nowadays, regular sodas are seen as more indulgent beverages to be consumed only as a treat, rather than simply on the side of one’s dinner. And with celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and nutritionists from all over the world fiercely promoting against high-sugar drinks, there’s certainly a gap in the market for healthier alternatives – which craft soda has very comfortably filled.
As society gravitates away from plastic towards more sustainable alternatives, another attractive point of craft sodas is their sustainable packaging. Craft soda brands use cardboard cartons, glass bottles, and aluminium cans in place of plastic. There’s nothing millennials love more than Instagrammable beverages that are eco-friendly and funky.