All killer, no filler: how Rapscallion Soda create modern craft mixers

All killer, no filler: how Rapscallion Soda create modern craft mixers

Gregor Leckie, founder of Rapscallion, tells us more about the new raw soda leading the way in flavour

Walk into any swanky bar and you'll find an array of craft gins infused with all sorts of herbs and botanicals, which all come together to create a full-on flavour experience. So why mask all that hard work by adding a mixer that hasn't seen a fresh ingredient in its life?

Gregor Leckie, founder of Rapscallion Soda, wants to change the way we drink soda, giving fizzy juice a more grown-up, craft-based edge. After years working in the wine industry and bars, he decided to focus on drink production. And after Rapscallion's soda sales outstripped alcohol at a friend's pop-up in Glasgow back in 2016, he believed he'd found a real thirst for something different in the soft drink market.

Each of Rapscallion's creations begins with a seasonal base fruit, which is handpicked, manhandled and thoroughly sniffed at the Glasgow Fruit Market before making it into production. Then the magic begins. Well, more science than magic as Rapscallion bring the search for the perfect flavour to a molecular level. 'Flavour sticks to either sugar or alcohol,' Gregor admits, acknowledging the struggle of creating lower-sugar alternatives to Scotland's traditional favourite soft drinks. So how have Rapscallion developed their reputation for raw soda packed with taste? His answer is simple. 'Obsession,' he says. 'We keep trying until we get it right.'

Each soda is constructed from layers of flavour, in the same way a chef creates a dish. Take the Ginger Ninja for example, one of Gregor's favourites which is developing a bit of a cult following in Glasgow. A whack of fresh ginger hits the back of the throat, then other, more subtle, flavours develop: lemon, cassia and cardamom – all working together to create a long, refreshing drink where every ingredient serves a purpose.

'It's been described as hipster juice,' Gregor admits. But his obsession with provenance is more than just a trend. We've seen a sea-change in the way we eat in Scotland, with consumers demanding local, quality ingredients in everything from fine-dining menus to humble burgers. Why shouldn't our soda be the same?

After a rocky first year, Rapscallion has found a natural home in some of Glasgow's best bars. Whether it's catering to teetotalers who want something better than a dash of watery cola, people cutting back on alcohol midweek, or drinkers looking to pair their carefully selected artisan gin with a worthy mixer. Rapscallion Soda is trying to change people's drinking habits one glass at a time, like subtle soda ninjas. With so much focus on reducing sugar, alongside an surge in quality local choices for the beer, gin, whisky, coffee and even tea we drink, perhaps Scotland is finally ready for a soda revolution. If so, Rapscallion is leading the way.

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