This was shocking. A while back I reviewed a Thai Basil soda from Pok Pok Som and I absolutely hated it. The context was all wrong for that initial tasting. I hadn’t fully read the label, I wasn’t familiar with the company, and I had no clue that I was about to drink something with a material amount of vinegar in it. That first experience didn’t inspire me to rush out and try the other three flavors but I felt like I owed it to my faithful readers to complete the series. Eventually.
This was delicious and different than any other ginger beverage I’ve had. The ginger comes through clean and hot, but the tang of the vinegar and sting of the carbonation are a perfect compliment for this refreshing drink. You go through a process as you moves around your palate. First it’s tart, then sour, then warm (ginger), and a lightly sweet finish. It’s not a ginger ale, it’s not a ginger beer, it’s a whole different thing.
It’s a dry soda, but with a fuller flavor than you can usually achieve by simply reducing the sugar. Having said that, these sodas do have about 2/3 the sugar as a lot of other sparkling beverages. There’s probably some sort of health benefit associated with the vinegar as well, but I’m not going to pretend to be a nutritionist. If I’m going to pretend to be anything it’ll be a food journalist.
If you’re unfamiliar with Pok Pok go ahead and take a look at their website. Pok Pok has several critically acclaimed Thai restaurants in Portland and New York in addition to their drinking vinegars and sodas. Chef Andy Ricker was featured on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown where they paraded through northern Thailand. He’s the real deal.
Having tried this and liked it I think I need to revisit the Thai Basil flavor. The Ginger Soda is an 8.3 out of 10 on my rating scale. It’s important to admit when you’re wrong, and I was definitely wrong about this brand.
Sampled in March 2017. Purchased at Uwajimaya grocery store in Seattle, Washington.