The Local Jerks
Meet our modern day soda jerks.
Mick Matricciano and Brandon Wogamon got into the beverage business years ago– as childhood friends and neighbors. Like most stories of entrepreneurial success, it all began with a lemonade stand.
Today, they and their other business partner, Matt Fendley, are the cofounders of The Cannonborough Beverage Company. Man oh man, what they’re selling is a whole lot better than lemonade: all-natural, locally sourced, hand-crafted sodas.
First, there was Apple Ginger Honey, a flavor that zings across the tongue, thanks to freshly juiced raw ginger, then mellows into the natural sweetness of apples and honey. Add a splash of bourbon and you’ve got yourself one heck of a bourbon and ginger. A few tries later, there was Strawberry Jalepeno: a beverage that bubbles with the tart, sweet, summery essence of real strawberries and concludes with the clean and fleeting heat of jalepeno. Add yourself some tequila and enjoy.
Unsurprisingly, these flavor combinations come courtesy of two F+B community members who’ve been lucky enough to work with some of Charleston’s master mixologists. Both Mick and Brandon used to work at the Gin Joint. Brandon now works at Social and Mick shakes things up over at the Belmont, for whom he won last year’s mixology competition at the 2011 Charleston Wine + Food Festival. Mick also recently graduated from the Charleston Art Institute’s culinary program.
“We took things we learned at the Gin Joint about making a balanced cocktail; the sweet, the sour, the right amount of acid,” explains Brandon, and they put it into something all ages can savor. That’s why, as Mick says, “You can add alcohol to this and have a well-balanced cocktail.”
When it comes to making these cocktail-quality sodas, the Cannonborough Beverage Company does three things: “We buy whole fruits and vegetables, juice, blend, and [force] carbonate ourselves,” Mick explains. They also work in small, 5-gallon batches, refuse to use anything artificial, and sweeten only with real sugar, honey, and agave. Besides, thanks to the use of all-natural, locally sourced ingredients, they don’t need to do much more than “let the produce do the work.”
Like so many local Charleston area chefs, the Cannonborough Beverage Company has learned to start with a main component, locally sourced of course, and add two to three accents so as not to bombard the palate with superfluous or competing flavors. While these sodas are flavored with complimentary notes, they’re not meant to be overly complex.
“Basically, we’re kids ourselves,” Brandon shrugs, “with a serious product.”
A serious product that’s sure to please next month as the trio makes their debut at the Charleston Farmer’s Market downtown. Each Saturday they’ll be stationed and ready like the soda jerks of old with three different lip-smacking, frosty, effervescent original creations like Lemon Mint, Cucumber & Orange and Cherry Vanilla to quench your thirst.
We won’t tell if there’s a little bit more than soda in your cup.
Available at Downtown Farmer’s Market
Saturdays, beginning April 7; 8am – 2pm
Story by: Annabel Jones
Photos by: Karson Photography