Saturday, May 17, 2014

A True Taste of Kentucky Now Available in Chicago

Bourbon and cola is a very popular drink, but one most bourbon enthusiasts eschew. They prefer their bourbon neat or on-the-rocks, and if they want a mixer they know ginger ale is better. If they've spent any time in Kentucky, they know the best ginger ale with bourbon or rye is Kentucky-made Ale-8-One.

Ale-8-One is mostly sold in Kentucky only. You can buy it online, but the shipping costs are nuts. Slightly less nuts, if you're in Chicago, is a stop at Joey's Soda and Snacks, a tiny store at 1946 West Montrose. Look, you can even see it on the shelf in the picture on Joey's Facebook page.

In Kentucky, a six-pack of Ale-8-One bottles is about $3.99. At Joey's it's $9.99. But I'm not complaining. His cost to obtain Ale-8-One and the dozens of other regional favorites he sells must be astronomical. If you have some favorite from back home, check out Joey's, but don't delay. As Joey reports on his Facebook page, he turned 34 last Monday and he's thinking about selling the place.

The Northcenter neighborhood where Joey's is located is fun. I discovered Joey's because Fountainhead, the bar and restaurant where I teach whiskey classes, is just a few doors west.

A few generations ago, most products were local. Every town had its own local brewery, bakery, dairy, meat packer, candy maker, snack maker, and soda maker. Coke and Pepsi started the trend toward big, national brands, many of which are now international brands. What gets lost are the emotional connections and, often, some unique products and tastes. Although Joey is struggling, Ale-8-One itself seems to be doing okay. So are the makers of Jones Potato Chip, made in my hometown of Mansfield, Ohio, and still the best potato chip in the world. (They're marcelled.)


Iakov Alenchik said...

Not familiar with Ale-8-One, but if you want a butt-kicking ginger ale, I'd go with Blenheim's Ginger Ale from South Carolina. Old #5 will allow you to taste your bourbon without blow torching your sinuses too severely. Blenheim's Old #3 is too hot for bourbon. I went to Clemson University, and I'd road trip to get some Blenheim's. I personally don't like ginger ale and bourbon. I'll take my Blenheim's neat. I take my everyday bourbon neat or in a Manhattan; my sipping bourbon neat.

Unknown said...

I grew up in Meade County, Kentucky (Brandenburg). Ale 8 wasn't available in that part of the state. I drank lots of it later, even if I didn't particularly like it. Too sweet, and very little ginger kick.

To each their own, I guess.

Michael Shoshani said...

I grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, where Ale-8-One was available for a few years in the early to mid 1980's. The local Coca-Cola bottler had a deal with the family that owned Ale-8-One, and was the only outside bottler ever to package and sell the stuff to an outside market.

Here in Chicago, I've found Vernors to be a very good match for any rye whiskey with a backbone to it.

theBitterFig said...

Make mine Moxie. The real, gentian-root stuff with the orange label and the Moxie Man. Not the citrus energy drink with the same name. Back in Maine, that was my old standby. Caffeine doesn't do too well by me, so I stick to Vernor's now in Ohio, but I might need to grab Ale-8-One sometime.

Anonymous said...

[slapping side of head]: I saw the picture and thought "ahh, a great Kentucky craft BEER!"...umm--no, try again :-( [it's late and I've been imbibulating awhile.] Never tried Moxie, tho' I've lived in Maine for many years now. Can't bring myself to take the plunge, I guess. Definitely an acquired taste.

Eli said...

I was introduced to Ale-8 while camping at Natural Bridge last summer--who knew I could have had it only a couple miles from home!

Now, if you ever find a Chicago source for Mingua Beef Jerky (Hot), I will pay cash money for that information. The cashier at the gas station laughed at me for buying so much of it on my way out of the state, but there is really nothing else like it available here.

Unknown said...

Do you live in chicago still?

Chuck Cowdery said...

I do, but sadly Joey's is no more.