September 2015 - February 2016
Dalston's (formerly Dalston Cola) was started by two old friends of ours, Steve Wilson and Duncan O'Brien. Both former chefs, they started making small batches of cola at Passing Clouds in Dalston, using ingredients from Ridley Road. They released 'Raw Fiyah', a spicy ginger beer, before moving their operation to a unit in Hackney Wick, where they steadily increased production, hand-filling and labelling each bottle. Now they have moved to an even bigger unit in Mile End, and their range of drinks is sold around London and the UK.
They asked us to collaborate with production manager Graham Walker, another former chef who has worked with us over the years, to experiment with some new flavours and do some trials into the use of some of modern natural sweeteners, which are hoped to replace some of the more unattractive chemicals which are prevalent in the soft drinks world. We played around with Root Beer and Cream Soda. The root beer idea was jettisoned when we reached an impasse - none of us were root beer drinkers growing up and we felt we might not do it justice. Instead, we concentrated on Cream Soda, eventually narrowing down a broad range of our favourite ingredients and arriving at an infusion of roasted hay, tonka bean and vanilla. We used Inulin derived from chicory to sweeten the drink in this and in trials for all of Dalston's range. We also worked on a fizzy apple juice, using Jonagold and Bramley apples from Gibbet Oak Farm in Kent.
The Dalston's range is now available in bottle shops and bar around the UK, and is stocked in Waitrose.