Is Durango ready for locally made mocktails? Some companies dabble – The Durango Herald

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Beverage companies produce tonics, sodas and sparkling waters with taste – but not hangovers

Blaze Davies, owner and founder of Voodoo Tonic, holds two of his products, Chupacabra Milk and Mojo-jito, Thursday in a commercial kitchen where he makes the product. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Blaze Davies started his company, Voodoo Tonic, as a way to create uniquely flavored cocktails with pre-made concentrates, but last year he discovered his herbal blends were being used for mocktails, served with sparkling water or even used as teas.

“This next generation seems to have more people choosing not to drink, and socially that can be a kind of badge of honor,” he said. “So I think in the years to come you’re going to see a lot more soft drinks being made.”

Davies has their original tonic, Voodoo Tonic, which is more of a classic tonic with hints of lime, ginger, and juniper. It also has a beet and lime tonic called Chupacabra Milk. The final tonic he makes is called Mojo-jito, which tastes like a classic mojito with strong flavors of lime and cucumber with a minty scent. All tonics have earthy flavors layered between the primary flavors.

Voodoo Tonic is made by Blaze Davies, owner and founder of Voodoo Tonic. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

“Using these tonics to create non-alcoholic beverages can give the depth of a mixed drink, but it just doesn’t have the alcohol,” Davies said. “The idea is that you have all the components of a classic mixed drink.”

Most often when people use Davies’ tonics for soft drinks, they add about 1-2 ounces of concentrate to a glass of sparkling water, depending on whether they want their drink sweeter or more bitter.

“What’s really cool about all of these toners is that the bitterness and sweetness balance each other out and will actually switch places depending on how much tonic you add,” he said. “You really get a different drink depending on how you mix it. So one of these mixes can give you five different soft drinks depending on how much you add.

Chupacabra milk made by Blaze Davies, owner and founder of Voodoo Tonic, is packaged in a larger bag for commercial use in restaurants and bars. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Davies distributes its tonics online, and they are distributed at bars around Durango such as the Bookcase and Barber and El Moro. Some companies, like EsoTerra Ciderworks, are looking into using full Voodoo Tonics as a non-alcoholic option, and even sell a non-alcoholic flight that includes all three tonics and an apple slushie.

In an effort to market to people looking for a cocktail alternative, Voodoo Tonic occasionally shares recipes on its social media platforms on what it calls Mocktail Monday.

“We’re also trying to get people to recognize that it’s tea,” Davies said. “It’s a concentrate of herbs and spices. The way I like to think of it is like a cold brew for tea.

Durango is no stranger to producing soft drinks. Local soda maker Zuberfizz has been offering alternatives to Coca-Cola and Pepsi since the early 2000s, and Ska Brewing Co. has been making its Skagua sparkling water for years.

Both Skagua and Zuberfizz were born out of a desire to provide a non-alcoholic alternative.

Zuberfizz co-owner Dan Aggeler started out as a brewer who wanted to drink something other than beer.

“I used to drink quite a bit of beer, and it was never a problem, but now I’m almost 50 and I don’t crave alcohol as much,” he said.

Likewise, Skagua was born when Ska co-owner Matt Vincent was looking for something to sip during the day.

“We’ve been serving Skagua in our tasting room for over 15 years,” Ska Brewing Co. spokeswoman Kristen Muraro said. “People got to know it and became fans, and when we saw this market for flavored waters grow, we decided to can it about three or four years ago.”

Chili oils made by Blaze Davies, owner and founder of Voodoo Tonic, are another line of products he makes. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Muraro said non-alcoholic beer brewing at Ska has increased, but the cost of brewing equipment is getting in the way. The demand for non-alcoholic beer must justify the price of the new equipment that would be needed.

“I think there are people out there who are looking for quality or good-tasting non-alcoholic products, so they turn to their craft brewers to mimic the taste of their favorite beers,” Muraro said. “Right now, I think we need to do a bit more research on what that would look like in terms of demand.”

Many mocktails and soda-based cocktails around Durango use Zuberfizz as a mixer, Aggeler said. Especially after the company started offering a soda gun system a few years ago.

“It’s the same as the other bar guns, but instead of a Coke products bar gun, they have our cola and ginger ale,” he said. “These are becoming increasingly popular in bars.”

Aggeler said Zuberfizz soda guns can be found around Durango in places such as Grassburger and Zia Taqueria, among other bars and restaurants.

“When people pass by, they want to try local food, local beer, local soda,” he said. “We are an alternative to Coke and Pepsi, yes. But people want that local craft soda.

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