Distilled: Rambling House soda a cut above the rest

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From the August 7, 2014 edition

When Rambling House opened last year and began serving its gourmet, craft sodas, I was intrigued. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had the opportunity to hit up the Hudson Street retreat until this summer. I found excellently made sodas — far from the typical big brand stuff — ideal for commendable libations.

As I’ve stated innumerable times in this column, whiskey is my favorite beverage in the world. Sorry, water. However, what I haven’t probably stated is that whiskey and ginger beer (or ale as a replacement) is my go-to simple cocktail.

So upon entering Rambling House on a not-too-hot-and-muggy evening, I knew I would immediately go for the Relentless Mule (Watershed bourbon, ginger beer and a dash of honey). The cocktail was quite fantastic, bringing a spicy, tangy bite with a hint of sweetness.

“I really hope [it] will be a year-round drink. It’s selling really well during the summer, and it’s refreshing,” said Rambling House owner John Lynch. “But the spiciness and the warmth of the bourbon will make a good drink when the weather gets colder.”

While I would’ve been more than content to sit back with another ginger concoction, I moved on to some other flavors. The sarsaparilla was also a better-than-the-norm version, but the soda-booze combo I’ll head back for is the Columbus Cola and whiskey (or bourbon). Once Lynch explained the recipe, I knew I needed to try it.

“I think our cola is a perfect example of a beverage that fits the trend of caring what goes into the drink,” he said. “It’s lemon, lime, orange, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander and a little bit of cola nut for caffeine. It’s the soda we make that I’m most proud of.”

Getting your hands on some Rambling sodas will be easier soon, although I still recommend experiencing the cozy, minimalist speakeasy (Thursday through Sunday). Lynch said Rambling House plans to open a second, production-only facility soon to offer more sodas on tap in more bars and restaurants — Seventh Son, The Crest and a handful of others already serve Rambling House — and begin bottling by the end of the year.

Photo by Meghan Ralston