Nostalgia goes on sale by the bottle as Coladka—a cola-flavored vodka from Dram and Draught owners Drew Schenck and Kevin Barrett—hits bar and liquor store shelves this month.
After watching different flavored liquors rise and fall in popularity over the years, Schenck thought he had a recipe for success.
“I had the idea that the person who came up with the next big popular shot wins and that a cola-flavored vodka would be delicious and good as a shot,” Schenck says. He convinced Barrett to try his hand at recreating that cola flavor and, after a dozen iterations or so, the two settled on what they thought was the perfect formula.
Versatile and surprisingly complex, Coladka goes beyond the traditional cola flavor profile. It’s sweet but not syrupy, with a hint of spice and a botanical element that makes it interesting enough to sip on its own. Barrett won’t share the secret recipe but he says the 72 proof vodka is crafted with all natural ingredients, including real cane sugar and essential oils.
“The bottle says, ‘This recipe is said to conjure memories of youth.’ That’s a nostalgic taste; the flavor is probably closer to what cola was 50 years ago,” says Barrett. “You can sip this, you can savor it, you can shoot it. You can do whatever you want with it but it’s a great, easy shot, chilled right out of the bottle or as an all-purpose cocktail ingredient.”
The pair recommend serving Coladka on the rocks or over ice with soda water; mixed with a splash of fresh lime juice in a Coladka Rickey; as a slushie or paired with ice cream in a float. They say it goes well in desserts— think chocolate cupcakes with cola-flavored frosting.
“It could even be used in a reduction for a meat dish, something savory like pork,” Barrett says.
Cola was invented in the United States in the late 1800s and quickly became popular around the world. Barrett and Schenck say they hope Coladka will have a similar wide appeal; in fact, they’re already in talks with companies in Argentina and the Czech Republic.
“Coladka is a universal flavor, a worldwide flavor [and] we believe this is going to go global,” Schenck says.
But to go global, they need people to try their product first. Look for them soon at bars, music venues and live events.
“We bought a van that’s all decked out,” Schenck says. “We’re going to be at events because it’s important to get liquid to lips and expose the public to the flavor profile.”
Coladka will be be available at North Carolina ABC stores for $18.95 a bottle this month. Learn more at coladka.com.
• 2 oz Coladka
• .75 oz fresh lime juice
• Soda water
1. Combine Coladka and lime juice; shake and strain with ice
2. Serve in a tall glass topped with soda water
3. Garnish with a lime wedge and optional mint sprig