It's not often that rounding the corner at a chain supermarket leads to New Year's drinking resolutions, but such was the case when we spotted new additions to our local Ralph's soda shelves: DRY Soda. Last we checked in with Sharelle Klaus, the Seattle-based company's founder, her line of lightly sweetened sodas in flavors like lemongrass, kumquat and juniper berry were available in limited L.A. outlets (primarily specialty wine retail shops and the occasional Whole Foods). That the company has expanded into Coca-Cola chain grocer territory is a telling sip of our growing corn syrup intolerance (DRY sodas are cane sugar based).
More interesting is why the non-alcoholic drinks were originally found in wine retail shops.
Klaus, a mother of four, says that after spending plenty of “dry” years during her pregnancies, she became frustrated by the lack of interesting beverage options. “I was into pairing wine with food and couldn't drink,” she recalls of the company's early beginnings in 2005. “I wanted to create something that could pair with food during a meal, a drink like wine that was more sophisticated and not too sweet.”
“When we first started, [my] soda was only in restaurants,” she continues. “That meant [soda pairings] were more of an event, poured into a Champagne flute by the wait staff at the table. A lot of the sommeliers embraced it, interspersing the sodas during wine pairings, things like that. That's really how it started.”
That “dry” food pairing menu reminder is particularly noteworthy this time of year, after we've been flooded with so many alcohol-induced holiday pairing suggestions from those first Thanksgiving bottles of Beaujolais to New Year's sparkling wine round-ups. And so we wondered, how about a course-by-course holiday tasting for our “dry” friends, too? Klaus has already done some of the recipe work on her revamped website, where chef recipes like a Scandinavian seafood salad from Marcus Samuelsson are suggested with various sodas (here, the DRY Blood Orange soda).
Which gets us conveniently back to our New Year's drinking resolution: To keep more interesting non-alcoholic options, perhaps even the occasional course-by-course pairing, on hand for non-imbibing friends who drop by for dinner.
Dry Soda is available at these local retailers.
More from Jenn Garbee @eathistory + eathistory.com.