Refreshments Revived

Refreshments Revived

By Cherise Madigan
Photographs by David Barnum, courtesy of The Stratton Foundation

There’s nothing like that crisp “pop!” that precipitates a celebratory bottle of champagne or that first refreshing gulp of an IPA on a hot day. In Vermont, a vibrant culinary landscape encompassing countless craft beer, wine, and spirit producers awaits those seeking a taste of the Green Mountains. But what about those who don’t drink, or just aren’t in the mood?

Recently, a wellspring of local producers who craft their elixirs sans alcohol have begun to offer up equal portions of fun and flavor for all. While craft beer and spirits have historically generated the most buzz, these sustainable and sophisticated refreshments allow everyone to join the party.

With commitment to sustainability, quality, and flavor, brands such as Venetian, TreTap, Cold Brewtus, and TÖST have begun to define the nonalcoholic niche within Vermont’s growing beverage market. Regardless of preference, these local libations ensure that you’ll always have something special in your glass for every occasion.

TÖST, for example, presents the same dry and sophisticated elegance often found in fine wine, with notes of white cranberry and ginger within a sparkling white tea. Crafted specifically to evoke the finer attributes of an alcoholic beverage—including a distinct nose, a smooth finish, and a meaningful connotation—the concepts underlying TÖST are both compelling and complex.

James Beard Award–winning chef and Michelin Star holder Alfred Portale and an experienced flavorist consulted on the recipe prior to TÖST’s launch in 2017. “They included the tea for the tannins and astringency, a little citrus and cranberry, and ginger adds a little spice to the beverage,” explained TÖST CEO Brooks Addington.

That careful cultivation has not gone unnoticed, with TÖST recently awarded as the New Product winner of the “Cold Beverage-Ready to Drink” sofi Award by the Specialty Food Association. Soon, the company will also be releasing 4-packs of their iconic bottles in 12-ounce portions—with additional flavors and varieties likely to follow.

“There’s a time when you want something that’s got some sophistication; it’s meaningful; it’s fun and refreshing but not necessarily alcoholic,” Addington said. “TÖST is certainly a unique option in that market.”

 

COLD BREWTUS

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Burlington’s Cold Brewtus bloomed in the wake of a craft beverage revival in Vermont, and founder William Peters—a lifelong Vermonter—says that the state’s attitude toward niche markets like his own makes Vermont “a special place to do business.” Peters, working alongside his father, found inspiration in that vibrant atmosphere and began to transition his cold-brewing hobby into a scaled business three years ago. Now, Cold Brewtus kegs, Nitro and Espresso cans have begun to explode in popularity across the Northeast—and 10% of the company’s profits are donated to Vermont charities.

According to the coffee connoisseur, however, it’s the bold flavor of Cold Brewtus that brings customers back time and time again. “It’s creamy, it’s bold, and it’s got a good kick of caffeine,” Peters explained. “We also have an espresso cold brew … which is a little more nutty, chocolatey, and balanced but not over-roasted.”

 

TRETAP SPARKLING WATER

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TreTap Sparkling Water, a collaboration between two of the largest organic maple farms in Vermont (and the country, for that matter), utilizes organic tree water—a byproduct often discarded during maple syrup production—to formulate a tasty yet sustainable treat. “Maple is the lifeblood of a lot of Vermonters, and the source of our water is one of the most unique in the world,” explained founder Aaron Harris, noting that sustainability and transparency are two guiding tenets of TreTap’s philosophy. “The cool thing is that the water is sustainable, and just happens to come out of the trees every spring.”

Offering flavors such as Real Maple, Bright Cranberry, Wild Blueberry, and Cool Cucumber, TreTap worked closely with the University of Vermont to create recipes that are both healthful and vibrant—without the preservatives and additives found in many beverages. “We wanted to create something that is low calorie, low sugar, healthy, and actually tasted good,” said Harris.

 

VENETIAN GINGER ALE

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Venetian Ginger Ale also boasts the clean ingredient list that is of growing importance to consumers and places a stringent focus on using Vermont-made bottles, labels, and ingredients when possible. And for Vermont native Justin Bunnell, launching Venetian not only represented the opportunity to craft a unique product, but to continue a family legacy. 

Dating back to 1917, Venetian Ginger Ale was the brainchild of Bunnell’s great-grandfather, German immigrant Michael Dorn. Although the Burlington-based company experienced an initial success, the business gradually faded away in economic strife of World War II. 

Antique Venetian products and photos were laying in wait for decades, however, until a young Bunnell discovered his family history—and eventually worked to continue it. “Venetian is inspired by my great-grandfather’s recipe, and made with real ingredients,” said Bunnell, who strives to honor the simpler production methods of the past. “We try to use single-origin, organic, and sustainable ingredients as much as possible.”

 

Where To Find Them

TÖST
• Above All Vermont, Manchester
• Al Ducci’s Italian Pantry, Manchester
• Beverage Den, Bennington
• Dorset Union Store, Dorset
• Nature’s Market, Manchester
• Wayside Country Store, Arlington


COLD BREWTUS
On tap
• Bennington College, Bennington
• Bromley Ski Area, Peru
• Love A Bagel, Bennington
On the shelf
• Al Ducci’s Italian Pantry, Manchester
• Brown Cow Café, Bennington
• Dorset Union Store, Dorset
• Elm Street Market, Bennington
• Kilburn’s Convenience Store, Manchester
• Manchester Discount Beverage, Manchester
• Stratton Mountain Market & Deli, Stratton Mountain Resort

TRETAP SPARKLING WATER
• Above All Vermont, Manchester
• Al Ducci’s Italian Pantry, Manchester
• Barrows House Inn & Restaurant, Dorset
• Bennington College, Bennington
• Bringing You Vermont, Bennington
• Bromley Mountain Ski Resort, Peru
• Clark’s Quality Foods, Londonderry
• East Dorset Jiffy Mart, East Dorset
• The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa, Manchester
• Hildene | The Lincoln Family Home, Manchester
• The Hill Farm Inn, Sunderland
• Southern Vermont College, Bennington
• Spice n’ Nice, Bennington
• Stratton Mountain Resort
• Taylor Farm, Londonderry

VENETIAN GINGER ALE
• Bennington Beverage Outlet, Bennington
• Bennington Lanes, Bennington
• Catamount Glass, Bennington
• Clark’s Quality Foods, Londonderry
• Heer Deli, Grocery and Liquor, Arlington
• Kilburn’s Convenience Store, Manchester
• Winhall Market, Winhall