Nothing beats a hot day, likes a cool drink.
And in my world, my backyard, the sun beats down like nobody’s business. Mid-afternoon to early evening there is no shade, no tree cover, nothing to help the stove top that is my paver’s patio.
Recently on a Friday evening, where I had been sweating it out somewhat in the backyard while my kids were picking apples off the ground and our rogue apple tree, I invited my friend Kate down to try a new drink mixer that I’d heard about around town.
The flavor: Sea Salt Caramel. The suggested adult beverage to pair: vodka.
(Just ignore the Malibu, that’s for another summer day.)
I had no Grey Goose or Ketel One on hand, as a matter of fact there was less-than-average vodka in my pantry. But it had been a long week for both of us and we were down for trying it. We mixed the two together, per instructions on the back of the bottle, added some ice and took a swig.
Immediately, we gave each another a knowing head tilt and glance.
“That’s kind of dangerous,” Kate said.
She doesn’t even really prefer sweet drinks. She calls it smooth and I agree.
“Ir rolls back off the sweet,” my friend and neighbor then said after taking a second sip.
This response is not unusual in the least, from what I found out. The company offers that flavor, plus Cucumber Habanero, Grapefruit Basil, and Vanilla Ginger. The fact that really made my mouth drop: the syrups pair with everything from alcohol to sparkling water and ice cream.
“We have repeat customers. That’s a sure sign we were onto something,” co-creator Barb Stauffer told me as we talked by phone.
Root 23 is the name of the company that makes these syrups. It is the creation of Stauffer and Leah Monaghan, two Clintonville moms who both enjoyed successful careers and then chose to stay home with their children. After 12 years at home Stauffer, who worked before with both Limited Brands and Abercrombie & Fitch, wasn’t sure she was ready to go back into the corporate environment. So she decided to go to school for Integrative Nutrition. Her husband has Celiac Disease and she herself was dealing with some food sensitivities.
Last fall, with the knowledge she had in hand and hopes of changing her family’s eating habits, she started making popsicles with her friend so their families could enjoy a healthier option than the boxed variety. They made old school simple syrups and then infused their frozen snacks with those syrups.
“Every popsicle we would try we would say, this would go nicely in a drink,” Stauffer tells me laughing.
And with that thought, Root 23 was born.
The flavors are made from fresh ingredients. Stauffer tells me they are actually peeling and cutting up ginger for their Vanilla Ginger syrup. These simple syrups DO contain natural sugars, don’t mistake that fact. But the moms agree that it’s better than the high fructose corn syrup you find in most sugary drinks. It’s also perfect to use in moderation.
I have a feeling this local product is about to get a big following. The ladies had their first real week of production the first week of June. They bought 1700 bottles and that purchase seemed crazy to them at the time! They thought the supply would last them until Christmas. But instead, local retail shops started picking up their product. You’ll find it at The Hills, Weiland’s Market, and a few others throughout Columbus. And now they’re also providing it to specialty stores in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chillicothe, Dayton, and Mansfield.
“It’s so much fun when you see how well received it is,” Stauffer tells me, “I love the personal impact of getting to know the people who buy our products.”
The women are enjoying a ripe time in the craft cocktail market. Specialty drinks are popular and Stauffer tells me when you’re shopping, you won’t find a lot of simple syrup options. Root 23 is finding a moment in the midst of that mix. Their price point: between $11.99 and $12.99 a bottle.
Because of the quick popularity the ladies have found in Ohio, the two are now looking for a packaging and distribution space. They’re also bolstering their business plan. With 5 kids between the two of them, Monaghan’s been getting up at 4:30 in the morning to make the syrups. As the kids go back to school in the next couple of weeks, they’ll regroup to figure out what’s next for their product line.
Stauffer tells me they would love to do bottles for weddings, baby showers, and corporate gift packaging. But they’re also interested in how it could be received on a wider level. One of her relatives tells her that the syrups work in Sodastream machines.
As Root 23 takes root locally, the women are still offering samples and selling the product at local farmer’s markets. Stauffer says it’s still a critical part of creating brand awareness. You’ll find them at the New Albany Market from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and Pearl Market downtown from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.on Fridays.
I’m a fan. After I tried the Sea Salt Caramel Vodka cocktail, I tried the same syrup in my coffee in the morning. If you’ve been chatting with me over the years, you know how I feel about my coffee….
It was delicious.
Next stop: vanilla ice cream. And honestly– that may happen later today.
If you want to “like” the Root 23 Facebook page, here you go. If you want to check out their website, you can get to it right here. And I’ve included some drink recipes below in PDF form– so when you pick up some of this tastiness we can raise a toast together. Coffee or something a little more stiff– you choose 🙂
Happy Monday and here’s to finding something new!
****Basic Root 23 Recipes right here****
P.S. I’m thinking the apples from my backyard might be a GREAT addition to the Sea Salt Caramel Vodka recipe. That is, if I decide one hot afternoon to get a little crazy and creative….