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words by niall roeder
Six Barrel Soda Co. is old school. The Wellington refreshment mongers make speciality sodas and soda syrups, so don’t be calling it fizzy or soft drink. Boasting the likes of sarsaparilla, lemonade, ginger ale and cola, their flavour line-up is delicious and old-timey. And their design includes nostalgic brown glass bottles and soft labels with crimped edging, reminiscent of the “Guinness for strength” ads of old.
It’s no surprise to learn that the two heads behind the trendy bubble drink, Joseph Slater and Mike Stewart, are big fans of classic sodas and soda fountain culture in general. Established in 2012, the soda project grew out of the pair’s trouble finding quality cocktail mixers for their bar, Monterey.
The penny dropped… into a glass of soda. Why not make their own?
The lads did exactly that. They chose the name Six Barrel Soda Co. – a ‘sixth barrel’ being a small barrel used by distillers for experimental batches. They formulated recipes and produced their own syrups and sodas to be mixed in audacious cocktails or sipped as bold refreshments. In addition to the traditional look and in what seems to becoming the standard, Slater and Stewart decided to make their brews the old-fashioned way – that meant all natural ingredients.
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Not every aspect of the company is purposely dated. As mentioned, the current flavours include classics like sarsaparilla, lemonade, ginger ale and cola, but paying homage to the traditional “sixth barrel”, also includes the adventurous cherry and pomegranate, celery tonic, raspberry and lemon, and the very intriguing salted cucumber and mint (sugar-free). These are flavours are a fine mix of old and new, somehow familiar and unexpected, like a nanna on a hover board.
Head to the corner of Eva and Dixon streets to go straight to the source, Six Barrel Soda Co. is open every day. Otherwise, you’ll find it in select cafes, restaurants and bars around Wellington and Melbourne, and of course in the QT Museum Wellington minibar.
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