When I seek inspiration for new cocktails I’ll browse through books, website, marketing material and any other source of material to get an idea. When I found Trader Vic’s Rum Fizz I thought it was a very interesting drink, partially because it contained an ingredient you’d be hard pressed to find at any modern bar. That ingredient was Cream Soda, which you can find at most grocery stores. So, when I went looking for a bottle of cream soda, I ended up with a mixed pack of Jones Soda. Since Jones Soda makes a unique range of products, I thought I should take a look at them and see if they are valuable to the mixology world.
The history of Jones Soda is pretty simple, it started off as a beverage distributor in western Canada in the late 1980’s. As the company grew, they gained significant knowledge of the beverage industry and decided to get into the market with alternative beverages as the Urban Juice & Soda Company. In 2000 the company officially changed its name to Jones Soda and moved from its headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle, Washington to improve US sales. The key for Jones Soda was the ability to create unique products and unique marketing ideas, such as the ever changing label. Currently Jones Soda can be found in many places including Starbucks, Barnes & Noble and 7–Elevens.
One of the interesting things that Jones Soda Co. has done recently is switched all of their products to pure cane sugar. Unless you buried your head in the sand, you are probably aware of the controversy around high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and its “supposed health issues”. I’m not convinced there are any genuine health issues, aside from over consumption, since high fructose corn syrup is just glucose and fructose, which are both natural sugars. But anyway, cane sugar is good for those who fear HFCS.
Just for the sake of tasting things I decided to “review” Jones Cream Soda. Why? Because this is the Art of Drink, and I cover everything drink related. Plus, it is used in a cocktail by Trader Vic and if he can use cream soda in a cocktail, so can I.
Jones Soda Cream Soda
Appearance: Clear like water
Aroma: Soft vanilla, cotton candy
Taste: The flavour is unique with sweet vanilla being the most obvious component. There is a light acidity in the finish, but over all this is sweet, carbonated vanilla pop.
The one thing I like about the Jones Soda flavours is that you can probably make some interesting cocktail twists with them. Sure, I’m not an Apple Martini guy, but when someone orders one, as a bartender I have to make it. I really don’t have time to convert everyone. But I could see giving the Appletini a little sparkle with some Jones Green Apple. Or adding some Jones Crushed Melon to some summery watermelon flavoured cocktail.
Jones Soda isn’t for everyone, but it can ad some sparkle to a few drinks. Especially when someone is just looking for something to relax on a patio on a hot summer day. Or it could be a good non-alcoholic drink for the same summer afternoon. You know you don’t always have to have a drink, right?
Pop vs Soda
On a related side note, the term “soda” is most commonly used in the US to describe sweetened carbonated beverages. In Canada “pop” is the prevailing term. However there are some significant regional differences in the US. For example in the north east, “soda” is common, in the northern Midwest “pop” is the prevalent term, in the south east “Coke” is the dominant term and in the south west “soda” is king.
The following map was an interesting study to determine who says what across the US. Blue is “Pop”, yellow/mustard is “Soda” and red is “Coke”