Everyone knows I love craft beer. But much in the same way absence makes the heart grow fonder, a night off the hops makes the palate stronger. I don’t mean switching to wine or G&T, but choosing alcohol free beverages instead. However, when you develop craft tastes for one thing it carries into other areas of your life. And these days, although there’s a better range of colas and lemonades available than just the mass-produced varieties, finding a decent soft drink in pubs and restaurants can still be quite tricky. What we need is a soda revolution – and I think Kitsch can show us the way.
Kitsch drinks are artisan sodas, handmade in Leith with fresh fruit, herbs, sugar, water and nothing more. Founder and kit(s)chen wizard Craig devises and tests all the flavours. The ingredients are boiled up in small batches, then bottled by hand using a simple gravity-orientated machine before carbonation, chilling and labelling – all by hand.
Unlike other soft drinks, Kitsch’s flavours are seasonal, meaning there’s often something new to look forward to. (And hey, beers on draught rotate, so why shouldn’t sodas?). Current flavours to stimulate the palate include Darjeeling, Lemon & Thyme; Rhubarb & Thai Basil and Cucumber & Fennel. I really enjoyed the rhubarb, a pale pink, fizzy beverage with a pleasant tartness. The Thai basil adds a citric sweetness to create a delicious, interesting and satisfying alternative to alcohol; easy drinking without the hangover.
I was less convinced by the cucumber. Whilst enjoyable and refreshing, I think it would take a real penchant for cucumber to consume that much in one go. For me, it might have benefited from a third element such as the sourness of lemon to contrast with the surprising sweetness of the cucumber, although the lingering tingle of aniseed in each mouthful was wonderfully unusual. As a side note, it’s always worth reading the bottle: I definitely should have shaken my soda to avoid unattractive bits of sediment floating in the pale green elixir – although it didn’t affect the flavour.
The Darjeeling was an excellent example of three flavours working together, with the tannins of tea, zing of lemon and earthiness of thyme very well balanced. Chilled over ice, it was probably the best iced tea I’ve ever had. I considered adding gin but I was enjoying it too much as it was – Kitsch sodas would certainly make excellent mixers, but they’re too good for that.
Danielle: I tried a trial batch of Earl Grey and lemon which was thirst quenching but Craig assures me that the Darjeeling is even better!. There was still a little hit of bergamot tea, but just the right amount. The Rhubarb was the first one I tried. I discovered it at Brew Lab between shows during the Fringe (as one does) needing something other than coffee that day. As to the cucumber, I thought this was very special – summer in a glass for me! Now I am just pondering whether I could add one of the sodas to bread dough ….
Find out more
Want to enjoy one for yourself? Find Kitsch at Edinburgh Farmers Market on Saturdays at Castle Terrace and in selected cafes across Edinburgh, including Twelve Triangles and Cairngorm Coffee. You can also find out more about Kitsch on their excellent website – there’s loads of great details on the blog.