In Detroit, Botanical Extracts Inform These Tasty Small-Batch Sodas
Like some insatiable thirst, the global soft drink market just keeps growing, and will be worth a projected $1.4 trillion by 2027. While ubiquitous macro brands still reign supreme, tiny artisan producers are gaining momentum, fueled by consumers who increasingly seek libations made from healthy, natural ingredients—ironically, something more like the classic fountain sodas of the early 1900s, when pharmacists concocted their own blends and sold them at their drugstores.
A notable standout is Casamara Club, a Detroit-based producer of small-batch refreshments made in the style of Italy’s aperitivos and digestivos using plant, fruit, and herbal extracts and with no artificial sweeteners. Jason LaValla, a one-time corporate lawyer (whose clients happened to be beverage companies), founded the company in 2017 after having grown tired of the usual happy-hour staples. He liked liquor, but loved amaro, a bittersweet Italian herbal liqueur, and began experimenting with ingredients including mugwort, angelica, and burdock root, making high-concentration extracts in his apartment. When he decided to take a break from drinking altogether and needed a quaffable replacement, he decided to mix the bitters with sparkling water, creating tasty, fizzy, nonalcoholic drinks that went on to inform Casamara Club’s four offerings.
For an introductory taste, try Como, which packs a bright citrus flavor that intermingles with nips of peppermint, licorice root, and clove buds. There’s also the more pucker-inducing Alta, LaValla’s take on a Negroni, with notes of juniper berries, anise, and acerbic chinotto orange; and Onda, a savory brew made from lemon juice that’s enlivened by sage and rhubarb root. After the sun sets, reach for a bottle of Sera, an after-dinner treat that tastes of strawberry candy.
As its name indicates, Casamara Club sodas are available via subscription, but they can also be found at a selection of supermarkets and specialty stores across North America. If you can’t decide on a single flavor, grab a Variety Case, which features an assortment. Each drink is meant to be enjoyed on its own—though, if you’re feeling adventurous, makes for a bellissimo mixer.