I'm fairly certain that the thing that drew me to the amber colored soda bottle was the set of cherry, red lips that leapt off its label, instantly transporting me back to my Rocky Horror Picture Show days. The bottle contained blackberry soda, made by a company called (not surprisingly) HOTLIPS. I've never been much of a soda fan, but something about this one tempted me and, being one who can't resist a new, nicely packaged product, I decided to check it out.
I took the bottle home, along with the other incredible finds I had picked up at BiRite Market that afternoon, put it in my fridge and promptly forgot about it. Then, one late evening, a week or so later, I was hit with a major sweet tooth and had little on hand to remedy it. That's when I remembered the blackberry soda.
The first sip was an explosion of flavor. The blackberry essence was so pure that I could almost feel the scratches on my hands from just picking the sun-plumped berries off of their thorny branches. The taste was pleasantly sweet, but naturally so, not cloying like most sodas. The carbonation was just right– not so intense as to make me sneeze, but not so mild as to make me question whether it had gone flat. I poured some of the soda into a glass and was not surprised to see that it was a vivid, magenta color, reminiscent of a light bodied pinot noir wine.
With each sip, my taste buds were reawakened, and unlike traditional sodas, I never experienced that tongue numbing sensation that overpowers, preventing you from tasting anything but sweet. I also didn't get that nasty, dragon-breath that I always seem to get from super sugary drinks, and instead, was left with just the lingering taste of fresh berries.
The highlight for me came with the last third, or so, of the bottle. With each sip, I could feel the consistency of the soda change on my tongue as the presence of the pulpy, blackberry puree became slowly discernible. I'm pretty sure that I even chewed the last few sips.
HOTLIPS sodas are produced in a small, family run company in Portland, Oregon. Their philosophy is as simple as their ingredient lists: Pick the freshest, ripest sustainably grown fruit, add water, cane sugar, lemon juice and some carbonation, and bottle it up in locally recycled glass bottles.
Soda flavors vary based on seasonality, showcasing locally grown fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries, apples and pears, to name a few.
I look forward to sampling as many HOTLIPS soda flavors as I can find and am already dreaming up some ideas for summer ice cream floats and effervescent cocktails.
If you can't find HOTLIPS sodas in your area, you can always order them from their website.