With most of our attention turned to craft spirits, we often overlook the other half of the equation – a good quality mixer. Not only does Cape Cola offer artisanal mixers for your drink, but also great tasting beverages for the ultimate conscious quench.
A few months ago, I was chatting to the Leonista pride about their range of 100% Karoo Agave spirits, and the conversation turned to serving suggestions and perfect pairings. This was the first time I heard of Cape Cola. I was told they make a mean ginger lemonade cheekily called Lemi Lemi. This locally crafted beverage pairs a dream with Leonista’s Lemonista, which is a heavenly mix of Leonista’s Reposado or Reposado Black with Lemi Lemi.
Always intensively curious about new and local products, I reached out to Cape Cola to sample their range, which also includes their signature Cape Cola. Twelve little bottles packed tightly in my bag, I embarked on my road trip to the Eastern Cape, ready for this tasty journey that was about to begin.
Founded by Lasse Presting, Cape Cola was borne from an idea to change the most popular soft drink in the world by adding a local flavour to cola. The initial plan was to turn cola into a drink that is still refreshing, but also so much more than just that. It needed to be something that was created fairly, consciously, right here in Cape Town. As a starting point, Cape Cola‘s ingredients are locally sourced, ethically produced and 100% natural.
Cape Cola’s vision is as big as their appetite, and they are hoping to facilitate social change with the production of their beverages. They want to give back to South Africa’s society by working with social NGO’s, in the long run contributing a percentage of sales to projects which support people and children in need or our valuable environment.
The ethos of Cape Cola
There are three core characteristics that underpin the ethos of Cape Cola, which includes:
Natural flavour: they use local and natural raw materials, which gives their Cape Cola a distinctive natural and refreshing taste. They use stevia and birch xylitol in order to keep the sugar content as low as possible.
Regional rootedness: Cape Cola wants to ensure the bond to Cape Town. They work exclusively with local producers and partners and make sure that they share their core values. We also want to strengthen the working conditions and labour market in Cape Town.
Social responsibility: Cape Cola also sees and acknowledges their responsibility to support social projects and to promote equal opportunities.
I was gifted six bottles each of Cape Cola and Lemi Lemi. I was impressed at first glance with the minimalistic packaging and the un-fussiness of the bottles; vintage-y glass cola bottles with metal flip caps, adorned only with a small cardboard neck label with the necessary dietary information. Smooth, sleek and thoughtfully designed, they looked every bit as good as they tasted.
The bottles instantly reminded me of the crates of Bashew’s my dad used to buy me as a child, in all the rainbow colours. Cape Cola, however, although it still holds some of those nostalgic memories, is all grown up, way more sophisticated and refreshingly flavourful without the nasties.
Lekker Lemi Lemi
Ah, the ultimate thirst quencher. My first chilled bottle of Lemi Lemi was cracked opened in the middle of the Karoo, after a hot afternoon exploring the veld. I was too impatient and thirsty to mix a cocktail, so I swigged the iced Lemi Lemi straight from the bottle. I love a good ginger zing, and Lemi Lemi delivered that back-of-the-throat burn sensation one craves from a soft drink. As the lemon notes mellowed down, all that was left was a pleasant, spicy hum.
Immediately hooked, we followed up with sundowners, cheers’ed and paired with Leonista’s Reposado. Roaringly delicious.
Look, I love myself a cola on occasion, but always the sugar-free version, as I find regular commercial cola incredibly syrupy and sweet. I cringe every time I see that infographic with the rows of heaped teaspoons of sugar stacked next to a tin of cola.
The next afternoon, as we got home from a game drive, parched and dusty, I handed my nephew from Canada a bottle of Cape Cola. He’s been telling me that Canada is miles ahead on the artisanal beverage scene, and that he’s tasted a few craft cola’s in his handful of years abroad.
The verdict was unanimous. Delicious. Better than anything he’s tasted in Canada thus far. It tastes close enough to cola to satisfy the craving, but uniquely, delectably different; even slightly botanical in the aftertaste. A lot less fizzy than commercial cola’s, we could appreciate the full palate of flavours without the overbearing bubbles getting in the way. I loved the hint of spice; vaguely reminiscent of Dr. Pepper or the South African Iron Brew.
A surprising ingredient is honeybush. A great natural sweetening addition to drinks and dishes, in retrospect, it now seems like the most logical local ingredient to use when creating a cola with a conscience. Did you know there’s no added sugar in Cape Cola products, and that it is a proudly vegan range?
My perfect serve? A mouth-watering elevation of the humble rum and cola. But using a local craft rum, paired with Cape Cola, and squidges of lime. Sunset has never seemed so beautiful.
Only at the start of their cola journey, I’m excited for all the new developments and additions Cape Cola have in store for the local consumer. As we all move closer to the roots of our food and become more involved in the food-processing chain, Cape Cola is offering consumers a chance to make a small conscious switch in their consumption habits. Every little bit of good done is a start, and with every bottle of Cape Cola you can be assured you’re doing the best you can for the greater good.
Thank you, Cape Cola, for creating beverages that have been thoughtfully crafted, with not only taste in mind, but simultaneously showcasing our abundance of local produce!
Disclaimer: I was given this product(s) as part of a press drop in exchange for my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.