Made in Melbourne : StrangeLove Soda

StrangeLove Soda believe they have successfully succeeded in recreating the taste of homemade ginger beer using electrifying, authentic ginger; sour, succulent lemons, and sultry, cinnamon spice. Along with the ginger beer, James Bruce from StrangeLove Soda shares with us the secrets behind the whole range of their quirky Melbourne-made blends.

“We wanted to disrupt a category and capture people’s imaginations,” explains James.

“We started experimenting with a variety of beverages, before stumbling upon our signature ginger beer with green tea. StrangeLove started off in Byron Bay as a boutique company and people started drinking it because it was a really nice ginger beer. We took off in the area and then picked up a few major accounts in Sydney — including venues owned by renowned chefs such as Kylie Kwong and Luke Mangan who started stocking it in their restaurants.”

Instead of settling for the idea of creating a regular soda, James believed that StrangeLove could represent a shift in food and beverage culture. “Rather than just a healthy alternative to some sodas, we wanted StrangeLove to be about art and culture, with unique images and words adorning the bottles. We wanted people to be excited about drinking it so we started sponsoring art shows, which simultaneously gave us exposure to Sydney’s high-end food scene. Slowly we just started building this reputation as the best ginger beer,” says James. “Living in Byron Bay, I was exposed to organics in general, but I wanted to create a unique product with a strong point of difference and a reputation for being adventurous.”

With daring flavours such as blood orange and chilli, bitter grapefruit and smoked cola, James sourced bold ingredient combinations that truly make StrangeLove sodas stand out as a niche product. “Our early mission was to create a really beautiful organic product and portray it as exciting, trendy and premium, but at that stage, it was still a little bit fringe,” James explains. “Therefore, we wanted to get a bit ‘Willy Wonka’ with it, and concoct various flavours that reflected the idea of being exciting and disruptive.”

Aside from imaginative flavour combinations, StrangeLove also focus on using premium ingredients. “I think the organic movement is important and the more people that are interested in organics, the more the movement will grow. We have put a lot of energy into sourcing interesting ingredients that are organically certified and locally produced in large enough quantities to expand.”

James believes that supporting local brands is something that the Melbourne culture really embraces. “There are some really great bars here that really get behind speciality Melbourne made products. In general, there seems to be a shift towards supporting craft producers in the Melbourne food scene, it’s very exciting.”

“I would summarise our brand, or I would hope that people would interpret the brand as being imaginative, not just from a branding perspective, but also from a product perspective. We would like to think our flavours and eclectic ingredient combinations are at the frontier of innovative food trends. We love creating such concepts and involving people’s imagination, not just settling for the standard and I think that is what makes us unique.”

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