When my friend Kalista visited from New Zealand recently, my happiness at her arrival was matched only by deranged excitement when she revealed the contents of her suitcase – a motherload of NZ goodies including Fix & Fogg peanut butter, Tuatara beer, and a bottle of Six Barrel Soda Co soda syrup. Based in Wellington (aka my spirit home), Six Barrel produce seasonal sodas and soda syrups in a variety of unique flavours – think raspberry & lemon, hibiscus, grapefruit & hops, vanilla cream, and blueberry & fennel. From the brown bottles down to the hand-stamped labels, the brand conveys a wonderful sense of hand-crafted nostalgia, with a hearty dose of modern minimalism to boot.
I took my newly gifted bottle of Celery Tonic soda syrup for a spin as soon as it was polite to do so, and it’s a testament to my willpower that there’s anything left in the bottle. Understandably, when you hear the word “celery”, the first thought that springs to mind probably isn’t “universally appealing drink flavour”, but this stuff is rudely good. The taste is subtle and fresh, with a good measure of spice thanks to the celery seed and ginger notes, all balanced out with a kick of apple-y sweetness and an overall cucumber-y freshness. I’ve been enjoying it mixed with soda water as the folks at Six Barrel suggest, or with some Tanqueray and tonic for a highly pleasing cocktail-hour tipple.
If you don’t have kick-ass friends living in NZ, check out the Six Barrel website for a handful of international stockists. Better yet, jump on a plane to Welli and visit their cafe on Dixon St in person.