From gutsy ginger to calamansi citrus: Brooklyn Crafted explores Asian flavors

By Beth Newhart contact

- Last updated on GMT

The brand set out to explore putting ginger at the forefront of a beverage and modernizing the concept of ginger ale.
The brand set out to explore putting ginger at the forefront of a beverage and modernizing the concept of ginger ale.

Related tags: functional beverage, Functional ingredients, Ginger

Brooklyn Crafted (BC) has built its New York brand with its own spin on ginger ale, drawing on the gutsy flavors from its Chinese roots. It’s now exploring other exotic flavors with a new calamansi citrus drink.

BC has a beverage portfolio of ginger beer, ginger ale, and teas inspired by southeast Asian fruit flavors not often found in Western drinks. All products are manufactured with a ginger base in an homage to the company's Chinese culture, even though Brooklyn Food & Beverage (BFB) has distinct roots in New York as an American company.

It's made its name by introducing unique flavors and a modernized ginger ale to the US and it manufactures the BC brand, which formed in 2018. The first product launched under the BFB umbrella was the Bruce Cost Ginger Ale (BCGA) in 2011, and all subsequent flavors and formulas were developed from the original BCGA recipe.

Over the last eight years BCGA has grown beyond local distribution in the New York metro area to national recognition. It’s made with fresh, unfiltered ginger, including tiny ginger particles.

The Ginger Ale is designed to be enjoyed alone or as a mixer with cocktails, sold in flavors like Jasmine Tea and Passionfruit. A ginger ale most closely resembles a soda product, and is carbonated and sweetened like one.

Finding function with ginger

Ginger beers, on the other hand, are traditionally brewed and fermented like alcohol. They are not typically alcoholic, but have a spicier, more ginger-forward flavor than ales. In 2018 BFB launched the BC brand with the Ginger Beer products in New York City.

The Ginger Beers also use whole, unfiltered ginger in the formula as well as organic ginger extract. They are described as having a more ‘adult mouth feel of a beer or wine.’ The line is available in Classic, Sugar-Free, Extra Spicy, Mango, Lemon Lime and Earl Grey.

Flavor decisions behind BFB comes from the founding family, who are Chinese immigrants. Drawing inspiration from their culture and frequent travels resulted in a beverage company that puts the most functional ingredients first in innovation.

The average ginger ales on the US market are sweeter and less ginger-heavy than what BFB expected, so they set out to explore putting ginger at the forefront of a beverage and modernizing and reinventing the concept of ginger ale

Marcia Hu, marketing manager at BFB, told BeverageDaily, said “Historically, ginger as an ingredient has Chinese roots. Our CEO initially started off in the Chinese food business, so ginger has always been a really integral part of his culture and his cuisine.”

Broadening US horizons

In line with this ideal is BC’s newest launch--the Calamansi drink. Calamansi fruit is a citrus that originates from southeast Asia, a cross between a kumquat and a mandarin orange. Though not ginger-focused, Hu said BC plans to include a little ginger in all upcoming launches to see if it amplifies the flavor and keep everything on trend.

There is also a new line of herbal teas from BC that comes in five flavors, which contains small amounts of ginger as well. Finally, BC is toying with a lightly sweetened cinnamon apple beverage, expected to be completed later this year.

“Prior to creating this herbal tea line, a lot of the ginger-based drinks they were making appealed to a largely Western audience,”​ Hu said. “Herbal teas are Chinese in origin, but the target for this is definitely not just people who have a connection to Asian culture.”

Both the teas and the Calamansi drink are being distributed locally in New York before rolling out to national partners.

“The entire mantra behind BC as a company is about drawing on unique flavors and ingredients from around the world that currently don’t exist in the mainstream American market,”​ Hu said.

Keeping the Brooklyn in Brooklyn Crafted

BC has found its audience mainly with millennials who care about what they’re drinking and where these products are coming from. Hu said the company is fully transparent on the ingredients, sourcing naturally and never using preservatives.

The transparent supply chain is especially in demand within Brooklyn and Manhattan neighborhoods that are thriving with young people, interested in buying local items and supporting local businesses.

A main selling point to consumers is BC’s authenticity as a Brooklyn-born-and-bred company. Other brands may claim to be from New York City, but few actually manufacture and package their products within city limits.

BC’s Bushwick warehouse takes care of every step of the process, and maintaining a presence in Brooklyn is important to the company. Right now BFB is a manufacturer and a distributor, but it will soon also be a co-packer.

The new arm of the business will work with any beverage companies that are based in New York City, looking for a facility to bottle their products. It’s working with partners now and will be launching the service by March.

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