Fizz whiz: Make your own natural soda with Drink More Good in Beacon

Jason Schuler of Drink More Good

Jason Schuler of Drink More Good

Most soda has a bad rap. It’s mass-produced by corporations, way too high in chemicals and high-fructose corn syrup and often not the best-tasting substance, either. Yet millions are addicted to it, to the detriment of their health and tastebuds. There has to be a better way.

Jason Schuler of Drink More Good is making soda better – way better – and making the world better while he’s at it. Using the skills of the craftiest mixologists, he makes syrups from raw organic cane sugar, distilled water and natural flavors, for mixing with fizzy water to make instant delicious sodas and flavored seltzers. The company and its customers are helping people access clean water, too, via a partnership with Generosity Water.

I’m not a big soda-drinker these days, but Drink More Good (DMG) could turn that around. I was lucky to sample its three syrups made into sodas at Mother Earth’s Storehouse not long ago, and they were all so good that I couldn’t choose a favorite.

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Regular ginger ale tastes like chemicals and operating-room recovery rooms to me, but DMG’s sprightly and fresh-tasting version has local organic herbs and spices and five pounds of fresh organic ginger root infused in each ten-gallon batch of the syrup. To make ginger ale you mix an ounce of it into 12 ounces of seltzer, or stop at half an ounce of the syrup to make a refreshing flavored seltzer.

Although I once consumed more Tab and Diet Coke than I care to admit, regular corn syrup-sweetened colas are too cloyingly sweet for me. But DMG’s version, the luscious Cassia Kream Kola, uses cassia, a true cinnamon, with roasted kola nut and whole vanilla bean insides scraped into a spice blend that includes organic lavender.

Most root beer, to me, is best as part of a root beer float, where the ice cream melts and makes the soda creamy. Drink More Good’s root beer is ethereal, with a complex flavor profile from five different roots, including sarsaparilla. Can you imagine a root beer float with this heady stuff and a scoop of premium or homemade vanilla bean ice cream? Heaven! And Schuler recommends all the products as excellent cocktail mixers as well.

These wholesome beverages have their roots in the bar trade. Schuler has 18 to 20 years in the bar and restaurant business, is originally from Hopewell Junction and lived in LA for seven years. “I cut my teeth there as a barman,” he tells me, “under a mixologist who was mixing syrups. I came back here and worked at a cocktail bar at Gleason’s in Peekskill, helping formulate cocktails.”

Then, in Christmas of 2012, he started making soda pop. “I drink a ton of seltzer,” he says, “but I wanted more flavor complexity and depth than the usual single-note flavorings.”

A customer asked Schuler to make nine bottles of his Cassia Kream for family. Schuler did that and started taking orders. He cooked up batches of his syrups every two weeks and researched how to produce them safely and manage the red tape of the Food and Drug Administration. Then he launched his syrups in local farmers’ markets when the season kicked into gear in April 2013.

He had a retail store in Beacon, selling ingredients for bar supply, and since November a 2,000-square-foot replacement has been under construction on Main Street next to the Towne Crier Café. Customers will be welcome just to come in and hang out and use the wi-fi, no purchase necessary, Schuler says; and there will be an open kitchen where people can watch batches of syrup being handcrafted. Intended as “a creative space,” there will also be classes from Common Ground Farm of the Town of Wappingers Falls, as well as a commissary where small food businesses can make their products.

“We want to be a resource for the community,” Schuler says. “The driving force of Drink More Good has a heavy philanthropic side to it. I want to make the world a better place while being self-sufficient too. The idea is to help the consumer make a world a better place too, by giving them a chance to help. That’s why I hooked up with the water charity Generosity Water. We made a deal with them to give them ten percent of our net profit per year.” DMG also gives the organization proceeds from its various fundraisers. Generosity Water helps developing countries access clean water by funding the building of sustainable water wells.

Schuler’s syrups are available at several farmers’ markets in the Hudson Valley and New York City, as well as a number of local health food stores, including Mother Earth’s Storehouse (Poughkeepsie location only), Mrs. Green’s, Nature’s Pantry and Whole Foods’ new Albany store, as well as the Hop at 458 Main Street, the Beacon Pantry at 267 Main Street and via the website at https://drinkmoregood.com.

The product line will be expanding, Schuler says, with bitters as well as orange and lemon/lime syrups now finalized, and passion fruit flavor in development.

Read more about local cuisine and learn about new restaurants on Ulster Publishing’s www.DineHudsonValley.com or www.HudsonValleyAlmanacWeekly.com.

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