A Wānaka mother-and-son duo is toasting the launch of their new beverage – Sidekick Soda – which is now stocked in retailers around New Zealand, Australia and the USA.
The all-natural range of fruity soft drinks include approximately half the daily recommended dose of apple cider vinegar, a known health tonic, and are a virtuous alternative to regular soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. As well as a range of national retailers such as New World, the beverage is stocked in WHSmith stores in Australia, and the exclusive Los Angeles-based health-food mecca Erewhon.
Sidekick Soda co-founder Fiona Tomlinson says the fact that an up-and-coming Kiwi beverage is now available in such highly regarded overseas retailers is a big victory for a small NZ business.
“It’s very exciting for us,” she says. “There is a significant demand for all-natural beverages that are healthier alternatives to alcohol or high-sugar soft drinks. Contemporary consumers are seeking more than traditional sodas and beverages, particularly the health-conscious Gen Z market. “It was important for us to create something that tastes delicious but wasn’t full of non-sugar sweeteners. It also had to look the part and be something you can take to a party or social gathering, or even something you can share with your kids on a picnic.”
This is the second line of beverages created by the family – the first was the successful Damson Collection Plum Liqueur, which won the award for the World’s Best Fruit Liqueur at the World Liqueur Awards in 2020.
The fun-loving Sidekick Soda brand and its three lively flavours (Plum, Strawberry & Plum, and Mango) were developed by Fiona and her son Rogie Tomlinson-Gillies during the 2020 lockdown. The beverages are made from real fruit, organic NZ apple cider vinegar and pure NZ honey. Apple cider vinegar is scientifically known for its health properties with acetic and malic acids being good for the gut while providing a refreshing ‘zing’ to each flavour.
The launch of Sidekick Soda follows a recent study by the University of Otago, Wellington, that indicates Gen Zers are drinking less alcohol than previous generations, predominantly for health and social reasons.
“It’s good to be able to offer a special-feeling, all-natural drink that appeals to many different markets,” Fiona adds. “Sidekick Soda also tastes great as a mixer, so it can be blended into mocktails and cocktails or served with your favourite gin or other spirit. It’s the versatility and the fact that it is sweetened with honey that makes Sidekick Soda a standout product.”