Drinks were something that we (Oli & Ash) started dabbling with in 2018 when we tried to create an all-natural, fiery, alcoholic ginger beer. This didn’t quite go to plan, and to those that were unfortunate enough to taste our prototypes, we apologise - one day we will nail an awesome recipe and you can drink as much of the good stuff as you like!
Despite starting with a flop, this kickstarted some mad scientist style experimentation with all sorts of drinks. If you can think of it, we probably tried it: beer, cider, kombucha, wild fermentations, shrubs, water kefir, milk kefir, alcohol infusions and sodas. Although we really enjoyed a lot of these, it was the sodas that were the standout winners. We were getting great feedback from our volunteer taste testers, and quickly realised we could drink them straight up, with a splash of something stronger, or in a snazzy cocktail – yes, we’ll be sharing these ideas on our blog.
Things started moving pretty quickly from there. We spent loads of time researching kit, learning about flavour combinations, understanding a bit more about the soda world and crunching numbers (something we were a little more comfortable with, both being accountants). After quitting our jobs, things were really taking shape as we found a new home at Bons Farm in Stapleford Abbotts and fit out a small production room. We were on the verge of getting started in the spring of 2020 but THEN….. COVID!
The whole world took quite a horrific turn, and unfortunately we had to hit the brakes on production. Entering the first national lockdown, we didn't waste any time as we took the opportunity to work on everything ‘behind the scenes’. We spent countless hours researching ingredients, sourcing suppliers, understanding the science behind drinks and dissecting our equipment manuals. Most importantly, we decided that flavourings were something that we wanted to fully avoid! Incredible flavours can be achieved using real, quality ingredients and slight natural variations are all part of their charm. This is at the core of everything that we do, and we make sure that every drink we produce uses some of the best ingredients and is big on flavour.
the Best ingredients
With the easing of restrictions between the first and second lockdown, we started pressing local apples ourselves, collected straight from the farm, to use as an ingredient in one of our first sodas. We very quickly learnt how different the varieties of juice tasted. Some were outrageously sweet, and others refreshingly tart, something that we hadn’t really experienced before, having only bought generic ‘apple juice’. These all tasted so good in their own right, we decided to launch our small batch apple juice, pressing new varieties as soon as the apples were harvested. Capacity was our main challenge and we spent a crazy amount of hours pressing all the different types of apple, most with names that we'd never even heard of. We finished the 2020 apple season having pressed over 30 different varieties of apple juice, and having learnt so much from our local farmers that it isn't a rarity to hear us nerding out about apples.
After the apple season and with almost no time to catch our breath, we quickly turned our attention back to our soda dreams. There are so many flavour combinations that we were wanting to try, but the first to get refined and make it through the kit was our Twisted Limeade. Super juicy limes, organic cardamom and Essex sea salt create a soda that tears opinion, but definitely gets people thinking about the complex flavour combinations you can get in sodas. Now the ball's rolling, we have so many more drink ideas that we can’t wait to mix up and share with you!