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Small Pleasures: Venetian Ginger Ale


Published February 2, 2021 at 11:49 a.m.
Updated October 5, 2021 at 2:49 p.m.

  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Venetian Ginger Ale
The story behind Venetian Ginger Ale is almost as compelling as the beverage itself.

In 2017, Justin Bunnell, the great-great grandson of a Burlington beverage entrepreneur, rebooted a century-old family brand for which the iconic Soda Plant on Pine Street was originally named.

Bunnell is still making and bottling the soda in Williston but has plans in the works to create a soda bar at the Soda Plant in Burlington over the next year, he shared via email.
Reader Gillian Franks of Essex Junction jogged my memory about this locally made soda when she recommended we check it out for our Small Pleasures column.

"It's a snappy ginger that helps clear sinuses and tastes delicious!" she wrote.

What Vermonter doesn't need a dose of snap and sinus-clearing in the middle of winter?

The ginger ale ($10 to $13.99 for a 4-pack of 12-ounce bottles) is exceedingly gingery and not overly sweet. Solids from the real ginger juice are visible settled at the bottom of the bottle.

I happened to run into another fan of the beverage recently. Joe Parent, who works in information technology at University of Vermont, said when he first tried Venetian he thought, "Wow, this is real stuff. It's not like waving the canister of ginger over. You can actually see the ginger in there."

The label urges "Swirl me!" — reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland's magical bottles that said "Drink me." The soda will not shrink you nor grow you like Alice's potions, but it provides a nice lift at the end of a long day.

I have now enjoyed several bottles straight up and also used it as a topper for both a spirit-free and spirited version of a thoroughly Vermont midwinter cocktail.
Ingredients for a cocktail and spirit-free version made with Venetian Ginger Ale - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Ingredients for a cocktail and spirit-free version made with Venetian Ginger Ale

The base combined equal parts Vermont Cranberry Company unsweetened cranberry juice and Singing Cedars Apiaries' honey-sweetened Meyer lemon juice (from lemons local to my California brother) with a good dash of Urban Moonshine's citrus digestive bitters. Lime juice would sub well for the Meyer lemons — or, if you prefer sweeter drinks, combine lime and orange juices.

For those imbibing, I added an ounce each of Bar Hill Gin and Putney Mountain Winery's Simply Ginger liqueur to each tall glass filled about halfway with the juice base and a big ice cube. Both versions were topped to taste with Venetian Ginger Ale and garnished with a wedge of lime.

Cheers to a gingery soda that adds pep to Vermont deep-winter days.
Small Pleasures is an occasional column that features delicious and distinctive Vermont-made snacks or drinks that pack a punch. Send us your favorite little bites or sips with big payoff at