Seeing a lack of adventurously flavored soft drinks on the market, the founders of Joia created their line by marrying recent culinary and cocktail trends into craft sodas.
Dan Oskey, a City Pages Best Bartender at the Strip Club, was introduced to Joia co-founder and longtime marketing executive, Bob Safford, through their mutual hairdresser. Oskey and Stafford, along with Joia's two other co-founders, Steve Walker and Carleton Johnson, were all heavily involved in the year-long product development.
"It was really fun that to create something non-alcoholic that was on track with people changing, wanting something more sophisticated, taking a palate of adventurous flavors and turning that into a soft drink," Safford says.
Joia sodas are made by fermentation with herbs, spices, and real fruit juices. (The name Joia was chosen to evoke celebration, along with festive bottle artwork created by Spunk Design Machine in South Minneapolis.) Oskey created 100 syrups that were taste-tested and narrowed down to four final choices for initial production. Although there are no plans to add new flavors for at least a year, Oskey says that the heavenly sounding Peach, Rosemary & Ginger almost made the cut, and that the biggest fizzle was attempting to use the flavor of cucumber.
Oskey describes the sodas as multilayered and aromatic. Like his cocktails, the sodas are created with diverse flavors that blend together seamlessly.
The first batch of Joia was brewed at Fox Barrel Cider Company in California, where Crispin Cider is made, but Joia plans to move its production to Minnesota in the future.
For the first run, six-thousand cases of Joia were produced, and are now being sold at premium grocery stores and co-ops, and also at Heartland and
Republic-- where Oskey says they are developing a cocktail list made with the sodas.
Here are the first four Joia--All Natural Soda flavors to hit the shelves, with a few tasting notes:
- Lime, Hibiscus and Clove: crazy delicious, perfectly balanced, and according to Oskey the most popular flavor to date.
- Blackberry, Pomegranate & Ginger: also flavored with lovely subtle elderflower, a fine complement to the berry flavors.
Grapefruit, Chamomile & Cardamom: the bright citrus of the grapefruit is an ideal match to the floral and exotic spice.
- Pineapple, Coconut & Nutmeg: summer in a bottle, the tropical fruit flavors gain an extra complexity with the added spice.
The Joia Life--All Natural Soda website has links to recipes, both non-alcoholic and adult-style, as well a store locator.