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.)