Rooibos citrus soda @ Hoots (W-S)

The rooibos citrus soda (right) and the flor de jamaica soda make by Tim Nolan.


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.”

— EG

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