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Roots Soda
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It's January and there is a good chance that you've sworn off booze for a few weeks; maybe it's time to give those fancy looking soft drinks from Edinburgh's very own Roots Soda Co a try?

They've been on the market since pre-summer and you may spotted them in your local trendy independent outlet. Maybe you even considered popping one in your basket, but relented when you realised they were the same price as a half decent bottle of beer.  They've clearly tried to position themselves as a non-alcoholic cousin of the craft beer movement (how I hate that phrase).

The bottles look very "beery" They also have the mandatory macho attitude and hyperbole on the back label.

A quick scan of the ingredients will give you a pretty good idea why these drinks are priced well above the competition. Instead of glucose, sucrose and E numbers, they are made of proper, foodie-courting stuff like bell-pepper, hibiscus, basil and sea salt. The first two releases are Hoodoo; a fiery, chilli & pomegranate concoction and Kaleidoscope; a strawberry, basil and balsamic juice.

Of the two the Hoodoo is the most successful. It is a pretty, pink apple colour with a gentle prickly effervescence.  It's well balanced with   the tart sour cherry notes of hibiscus up front and the green chilli flavour (not just heat!) building through the finish. It is very full bodied for a soft drink and more complex than most beer.

The Kaleidoscope is cracking as well, if maybe a bit sweet for my palate. It has the creamy, cloudy appearance of a flat hefeweiss, a lovely, oily texture and just a hint of Lilt (the totally tropical drink) to the finish.

I split a bottle with my two sons whose initial response was "YUMMY!"  And "I LOVE IT!"

However, despite this they couldn't manage more than a couple of mouthfuls and this sums up the problem with the Roots Soda drinks, they are just too good.

The flavours are enormous, the palates are complex, the recipe's great; but when would you drink them? They don't offer the instant hit of refreshment and hydration of a classic soft drink, they would overwhelm any spirits they were mixed with and they are too pricey for kids.

But they do work for people taking a break from drink. Personally I would much rather sip one of these slowly other the course of an evening than strain my bladder with pints of lemonade.

 (J. Wrobel)

 

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