At the height of the American soda fountain’s popularity, the term “jerk” was given to those tasked with developing and dispensing unique flavors.
We were jerks before we ever started making soda.
Friends since forever, the idea for creating fresh soda from natural ingredients came together in 2012 on a quiet street at the edge of Cannonborough. We all grew up drinking soda, but we wondered, what would soda be like if it grew up with us? Using the training we received in Charleston’s most creative bars and kitchens, we set out to create a culinary-minded beverage by replacing artificial ingredients with fresh produce and natural sweeteners. Being exposed to the exciting advancements of craft beer, boutique wines and small batch spirits, we noticed a lack of creativity in the non-alcoholic beverage market. Dominated by a few big players and defined by a stagnant cast of artificial flavors, we saw soda as the perfect vehicle to carry over the attention to detail and quality sourcing of the craft beverages we admired.
Our first stop was the local farmers market in Charleston. In the Summer of 2012 we began selling our sodas by the glass from a modest booth in Marion Square, constantly testing new flavors and subtly balancing our beverages with input from the community. The following Summer, restaurants and bars around town began to offer our soda on tap as both a non-alcoholic offering and an effortless cocktail mixer. At this point, we were still carbonating each keg individually by hand on the off hours of a local pizzeria, and as we took on our first distributor and expanded distribution throughout the state, we realized it was time to take the next step for our business.
Keeping production of our product in house to maintain the quality we had become known for was the highest priority, but scaling our process was a challenge. We spent the next year slowly transitioning from our full time jobs to focus on Cannonborough Beverage Company, trading our time helping out at local breweries for knowledge of the equipment to develop our own unique production process. By 2014 we were in our own production facility with greatly increased capacity and a production line we tailored specifically for soda making. This allowed us to expand outside of South Carolina and offer our fresh fruit sodas to more of the South East. 2015 saw the release of shelf stable bottles, and we were fortunate enough to be named Garden and Gun’s Best Beverage in the South, as well as awards from Southern Living and the Specialty Foods Association. This exposure helped introduce our sodas to a much wider audience, and has led to Cannonborough Craft Sodas becoming available in over 200 retailers and restaurants in the South East and beyond. Although we’ve grown a lot since the farmers market days, we’re still making soda the way we always have, sourcing the best ingredients we can find and combining them in ways that let those ingredients really shine. We’re excited to continue to grow and share our passion with you!