Where Are the Savory Sodas?


[Flickr: _rockinfree]

The best cocktail I drank this year was the Dream Weaver, at Charleston's Husk restaurant: gin, Jack Rudy tonic, diced heirloom tomatoes, and herbs with a rim of bourbon-smoked salt and pepper.

The Cocktail Club, also in Charleston, makes a Caprese martini—tomato-and-peppercorn-infused vodka, basil, white balsamic, celery bitters, with tomato, basil, and mozzarella to garnish—that mimics the taste of a Caprese salad so accurately that it renders moot the question of whether or not cheese and herbs belong in a cocktail.

Not long ago, the only savory cocktail at many bars was the Bloody Mary. Now, in the wake of the cocktail revolution, savory drinks are numerous enough to populate a genre. Having been converted to the savory side somewhere around my first bacon-infused Old Fashioned, I've found it hard to go sweet again.

In the soda aisle, though, sweetness still reigns. Cloying, tooth-rotting, stick-to-your-tongue sweetness. The soda industry, for the most part, has decided that we can't handle anything less. As a soft-drink taster with a sugar-soaked palate, I am of the opinion that we could cut the sugar a little bit, and let other flavors shine through. But could we handle straight-up savory sodas?

Imagine soft drinks flavored with Tabasco and lime, or tomato and basil—seasoned with salt, pepper, smoke, pickle juice. Sound disgusting? We drink all that and more come nighttime. Outside of some farmers' markets and rarefied palaces of molecular gastronomy, though, you won't see those flavors on ice without a little liquor.

Have any of you tried savory sodas? Made them, purchased them? Would you? What flavors would you like to try?