Rooibos citrus soda @ Hoots (W-S)
Hoots is most known for its beer and Tim Nolan for his cocktails, but together the two Winston-Salem institutions are responsible for some killer virgin drinks.
Ever had a hops soda? Then you’ve probably been hanging around Nolan, who came up with the drink using Horizon hops as a way to teach people about beer. But there’s nothing alcoholic about this lemony beverage that could still scratch the itch for someone who is sober. Picture a gentle, light IPA taste steeped in lemon and more parts soda water than anything else.
Hoots orders 40 pounds of ginger root a week, which they mostly use to make some badass ginger ale or ginger beer cocktails. But those fresh ingredients can be put towards all sorts of other drinks. Nolan — who developed the gin recipe for Sutler’s Spirit next door in the West End Mill Works and who has worked behind his share of other bars, including Tate’s — plans to work up a written cocktail menu as well as a list of the house-made syrups to go in all sorts of drinks.
He makes a flor de jamaica soda that tastes somewhat like an unobtrusive black-cherry soda. The hibiscus drink comes with a wedge of lemon, but better yet is a rooibos citrus soda.
Rooibos is a South African tea, and Nolan makes the orange-colored drink with a maraschino cherry garnish, at least when a camera is present. Watching my friend Ruth and me trying the creation, Hoots co-owner Eric Swaim reaches over for a sip, too. Not that he hasn’t had it before — Swaim is quite familiar with it, and lets out an “Mmmmmm” before saying, “I love rooibos.”