This story was originally published on February 11.
Originally from Ottawa, Dodie Ellenbogen sat down with me to talk about her five-year business venture, The County Bounty Artisanal Soda Co. She kindly provided me with a range of flavours and in the interests of you the reader, I'll admit it was no work whatsoever to taste through this rainbow so that you might discover what, I feel, are the finest sodas available on the market.
I first came across one of her bevvies a few years ago and was immediately struck by the bright flavours, but also by the nominal use of sugar which made the soda even more quaffable. If you consider that a supermarket soda has from 38 to 42 grams of sugar per 355 ml can, you'll be delighted to learn that CountyBounty sodas range from 13 to 28 grams per can.
But back to the Queen of Sodas: Dodie and her husband spent years growing vegetables on her parents farm in Prince Edward County and while a passion, selling vegetables at farmers markets was not a sustainable lifestyle and so, as a value-added for her customers, the idea for a soda company was born. Initially their sodas were as sweet as any on the market but the honest customer feedback gave them direction and led them to recipes that involved less sugar and they work admirably.
Recently they moved their business to Napanee and are still rounding out their new operations. They buy all their produce from Ontario farmers and forage for other plants like sumac, pine & cedar that make their way into her favourite soda: Foraged Botanicals Tonic.
It's a unique and entirely friendly beverage that speaks to a naturally gifted palate and when I mention my favourite, Lavender Lemon-Basil she simply replies “yes, that was an educated guess.” And here's the thing I learned and wanted to get at: Dodie's as honest as her sodas. There's integrity in her products. You only need to read the Indigenous territorial recognition on each can to understand that.
With a current production run of 12,000 cans a month they are available in as many as 300 retail outlets in Ontario. The CountyBounty is looking to bring production up to over 30,000 cans in 2022 so we can expect to see more retailers come on board. At the moment more than 20 shops in Ottawa such as Around the Block Butcher Shop, The Piggy Market and The Red Apron, offer these drinks with Culture Kombucha providing the full range and free delivery with orders of $20.00 or more.
They have been working on a new line of flat teas that are slated for a release at the end of February 2022 and I know that as we get into the warmer weather the seasonal Blackcurrant Lemonade will become a favourite. Really...just anything Blackcurrant is a favourite.
Whether you're interested in exploring an assortment of booze-laced long drinks or extending your dry January for a few more weeks, you have an adventure of unique flavours ahead of you. And if I can just leave you with my years long food and drink mantra: Drink Less, Pay More. Drink Better.
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