Of all the basic tastes — sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savory — the face-puckering power of sour is my flavor jam. It also guides my drinking habits, putting tart and sour beers, ciders and hard kombucha at the top of my list of quaffable beverages.
Raising the bar, local kombucha-maker Soul Fixx adds chef-made flavors to their hard (and soft) canned elixirs, such as Guava Cardamom, Szechuan Tangerine, Ginger Hibiscus and Pineapple Tepache. Loaded with the tang (and unpasteurized probiotic goodness) of black tea-based kombucha, bold herbs and spices like clove, cinnamon, ginger, lemon verbena and star anise, they make for a more complex drink than most other fruit-forward kombuchas.
Soul Fixx co-owner Erik Fritz sees his company’s canned kombuchas more as sour beers than hard seltzers. At about 4.5% abv (alcohol by volume), their alcohol content is relatively low but they pack a wallop of flavor absent in most seltzers. Soul Fixx kombuchas are also very dry (i.e., not sweet), making them an excellent alternative to sugar-bombs like canned cocktails.
Fritz and Soul Fixx co-owner Ruben Moreno were influenced by their professional background as chefs and by their shared Mexican heritage when they developed the flavor profiles for their kombuchas. The duo met at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley and then worked together at The French Laundry in Yountville for several years.
“We were exposed to how dishes are formulated based on spice, flavor, sweetness. The menu changes every day and we just saw so many combinations,” Fritz said of their time at The French Laundry. Soul Fixx’s Szechuan Tangerine hard kombucha was inspired by a dish at the renowned Yountville restaurant.
“I was talking to Ruben and I said, ‘How do we make this (dish) into a drink?’” Fritz recalled. “Everyone is doing lemon-ginger, cherry and other basic flavors for kombucha and dumping in a lot of sweetener for balance. They’re just all the same,” he lamented.
The two chefs wanted to make a different kind of kombucha, one that reflected their Mexican roots, using tropical fruits like guava and spices that are popular in southern Mexico.
Though kombucha typically has a strong flavor profile, the drink pairs well with similarly bold-flavored foods, especially spicy tacos, Fritz said.
Fritz and Moreno are operating their business out of a 6,000-square-foot facility in Healdsburg previously owned by Sonoma Cider to expand their line and distribution. Soul Fixx kombuchas can be found at most local grocers and in a growing list of Sonoma County restaurants, including Petaluma’s Lunchette, Down to Earth Cafe in Cotati, Fishetarian in Bodega Bay and Single Thread in Healdsburg.
In addition to kombucha, Fritz and Moreno are working on hemp-based drinks, as well as sparkling water beverages. The partners also are looking for investors to grow their operations, Fritz said.
For more details, visit soulfixxelixirs.com.