Sparkling Fuji Apple? Sparkling Blood Orange & Cranberry? Sparkling Meyer Lemon? Sparkling Pineapple Tangerine? Toto, I don't think we're in Soda Kansas anymore.



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KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE™. Her brother enjoys a cola with every meal; and she is so happy to be able to set a soft drink on the table that doesn’t upset the La Tache.


July 2005
Updated May 2006

Main Nibbles / Beverages / Soft Drinks

Fascinating Fizz

Time To Enter the Beautiful New World of Alternative Sodas

With all due respect to the colored fizzy water of our youth, that was then. Today, every drop diverted from these great “adult” sodas is a wasted calorie.



Of the many exciting developments in the rapid growth of specialty foods, the “adult” or “alternative” soft drink segment is one that we’re most grateful for. We personally avoid the over-sugared, artificially-flavored commercial soft drinks of this world: if one has a palate, one probably finds them unpalatable. On the other hand, sometimes one wants to quaff something other than sparkling water, iced tea, or pomegranate juice; or one’s relatives request a soda.


That’s why we are grateful to the producers below: so much so that we now serve a number of their products at very formal dinner parties because they go so well with food. Not all of our guests are wine drinkers; some are designated drivers, or carrying the foodies of tomorrow. Interestingly, many of the oenophiles, rather than being chagrined to see a soft drink at the table, want to try them too.

At fine restaurants across the country, chefs are actually cooking with alternative sodas. Mixologists make cocktails with them. It’s like adding juice to a recipe. Izze has recipes for sorbet and vinaigrette on its website; Wild Fruitz has cocktails, non-alcoholic beverages, desserts, even fish and green bean dishes. Some prominent restaurants also offer adult sodas paired to specific courses.

You can enjoy them anyway you please. However, you have your work cut out for you. We’ve only listed seven companies below, plus one at the top left. But there are about fifty brands exhibiting at the Fancy Food Show this month.

Get ready to meet some of our favorite classics, flavor innovators, and juicy updates. Who has the bottle opener?

Great Classics

Boylan’s Bottleworks

If this isn’t the best-tasting complete line of classic sodas in America, please ship us a case of the line that is. Boylan’s will show you what the genre tasted like when it was invented, with natural flavors, cane sugar and low carbonation—before big business cut corners with artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, and lots of fizz and chemicals to cover up the bad flavor. The diet sodas are an amazement unto themselves. People rave about the Black Cherry, but the Diet Cane Cola is so good, it is virtually a myth: the last time we saw a bottle, it was at Fog City News in San Francisco. We kept the empty as a souvenir: you can see it in the photo at the right.


Flavors include Birch Beer (Original and Red), Black
Cherry, Creme Soda, Ginger Ale, Grape Soda, Orange Soda, Sugar Cane Cola; diet flavors include
Diet Original Birch Beer, Diet Black Cherry, Diet Cane Cola, and Diet Creme Soda.

If you find any, grab them all. Your diet-cola-drinking friends would rather have it than Dom Perignon.

  • Suggested Retail Price:
    $1.59, 12-Ounce Bottle

MAY 2006 UPDATE: Distribution has expanded! We now buy our Boylan’s from Fresh Direct in New York City; and it is available through the company’s Amazon store. Click here for our complete review.


GuS means Grown-up Soda: flavors done “dry” (read, low sugar, low carbonation, high flavor) for sophisticated palates. One can imagine Cole Porter and Lillian Hellmann enjoying their Extra Dry Ginger Ale or Dry Meyer Lemon. We have a passion for Star Ruby Grapefruit; and Carrie Bradshaw would most certainly be living on Dry Cranberry Lime when press deadlines precluded her tossing down the Cosmopolitans.

GuS Sodas

Available in Dry Cranberry Lime, Dry Crimson Grape, Dry
Meyer Lemon, Dry Valencia Orange, Extra Dry Ginger Ale, and Star Ruby Grapefruit.

If you are a lover of grape or orange sodas, one taste of Dry Crimson Grape and Dry Valencia Orange will have you off the kid stuff forever. The other benefit of “dry” is that low sugar means only 90 to 95 calories per 12 ounce bottle (a 12-ounce can of big brand soda has about 140 calories).

  • Suggested Retail Price:
    $1.49 12-Ounce Bottle
    $4.99, 4-Pack
  • Certified kosher by OU

Flavor Innovators

What happens when you take basic soda concepts and stretch them in a different direction?

Jones Soda

Can you say fun? You don’t have to be counterculture to be jonesing for this colorful brand. Not only are the sodas bright (you can put together a vivid red-white-and-blue selection for Independence Day, e.g., and work through just about any other occasion including Neon Day); but each label is a statement in alternative art (consumers can submit their own label designs). There’s a basic line, plus fun flavors that are always coming and going (alas, poor FuFu Berry...). By the way, those Turkey Gravy, Mashed Potato, and Green Bean sodas for Thanksgiving were a PR gimmick—and did they ever put Jones Soda on the world map!

Jones Soda

Available in Bada Bing, Betty, Berry Lemonade, Berry White, Blueberry, Bohemian Raspberry, Cherry, Cream, Crushed Melon, Dave, D’Peach Mode, Fu Cran Fu, Fun, Green Apple, Happy, Lemon Drop, Limes with Orange, MF Grape, Orange & Cream, Peachy Keen, Strawberry & Cream, Strawberry Lime, Strawberry Manilow, Tangerine, Twisted Lime, Vanilla Cola, Watermelon, Whoop Ass. Sugar-Free sodas include Black Cherry, Chocolate Fudge, Cream, Ginger Ale, Pink Grapefruit, Root Beer.

However, buyers who mistakenly drank them not only got a skewed idea of how good the “normal” flavors are (really—what did you expect Turkey Gravy and Green Bean sodas to taste like!), but missed out on selling them on E-Bay for a small fortune.

  • Suggested Retail Price:
    $1.29, 12-ounce bottle

Steaz Green Tea Soda (formerly Steap†)

A soda made from Ceylon green tea and organic sugar: worth a try, isn’t it? Originally riding the green tea health trend, green tea may not be the disease-fighter we hoped it would be*, but the line stands on its own for its refreshing natural flavors blending tea and fruit. Key Lime is an original. Root Beer and Cola have a charming point of view that lovers of those classics will want to try; and Grape will definitely appeal to purists seeking true Concord grape flavors.


Available in Cola, Key Lime, Lemon Dew, Orange, Raspberry,
and Root Beer; plus Diet Black Cherry, Diet Cola, Diet

Three diet flavors, made with stevia and organic cane juice, have recently been introduced: Diet Black Cherry, Diet Cola, and Diet Lemonlime.

  • Suggested Retail Price:
  • Certified organic
  • Certified kosher by OU

*The FDA issued a bulletin on June 30, 2005 concluding that there is no evidence that green tea helps with two major cancers. See THE NIBBLE™’s Gourmet News for July 4, 2005. However, the polyphenols, antioxidants and vitamins are helpful in other ways.

†The company changed the brand name from Steap to Steaz because of international trademarking issues.


Juicy Updates

A different path was taken by these favorites: they started with fruit juices and added a little fizz. The result: a modern take on old-fashioned goodness. They have a lighter taste profile than classic sodas: less heavy, less sweet, lighter carbonation.  And while soda is essentially flavored, sweetened carbonated water, these are juice, with all the nutritional benefits of juice (e.g., they rely on the juice’s natural sugars for all or most of their sweetness, instead of added sweeteners).

As with the classic sodas, within the carbonated juice segment, there are choices from wholesome to hip.

Fizzy Lizzy

Fizzy Lizzy’s sparkling fruit juices have no added sugar or sweeteners, and thus have lower sugar/carb levels than other sodas that are also 70% juice. They have developed a large following among those who want fizz with their fruit. Founder Liz Marlin developed the line because she mixed her own fruit juice and seltzer at home but could never find anything similar at retail.

Fizzy Lizzy

Flavors include Apple, Cranberry, Grape, Grapefruit, Orange, Passionfruit, Pineapple, Raspberry Lemon

The line offers all the traditional favorite flavors. Passionfruit, a flavor not seen too often, is heavenly; and revisiting old juice favorites like apple, cranberry and pineapple Fizzy Lizzy style is a new way to walk down memory lane with friends and family. Think juice spritzer—and enjoy!

  • Suggested Retail Price:
    $1.29, 12-ounce bottle


Izze calls itself sparkling juice. We don’t care, as the old joke goes, we just hope it calls us to dinner. The rich dark fruit of Sparkling Blackberry and the fruitier Pomegranate can easily substitute for a glass of red wine at dinner for those who don’t partake of wine but would like something more than water. Grapefruit and Pear stand in well for the whites. We’re just a little bit in love with this line. We may name our firstborn Izze.

  • Suggested Retail Price:
    $1.29-$1.49, 16-Ounce Bottle
    $4.49, 4-Pack

Flavors include Blackberry, Blueberry, Clementine, Grapefruit, LemoFlavors include Blackberry, Blueberry, Clementine, Grapefruit, Lemon, Pear, Pomegranate.

Wild Fruitz

Although only 25%-38% fruit juice, these soft drinks do taste wildly fruity and intense, due to the addition of cane sugar (the good sugar) to the all-natural flavors. You must try them all. Just in case you were going to pass it by, Watermelon is a real winner: an unusual flavor to find in a beverage, and it is special, like watermelon in a bottle. It has layers of complexity from pear and aronia berry juices that are blended in.

Wild Fruitz

Flavors include Apricot, Cranberry, Huckleberry/Blueberry, Lemonade, Orange/Mango, Raspberry, and Watermelon.

Huckleberry/Blueberry is also noteworthy and a combination not commonly found. It has a subtle tartness, sweeter than cranberry: a pleasant challenge. Not that you drink a label, but the graphics—which don’t show up well here—are charming, classic country store vintage. You feel the fruit.

  • Suggested Retail Price:
    $1.59, 16-Ounce Bottle
    $5.99, 4-Pack
  • Certified kosher by KOF-K.

Prices and flavor availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.

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