A spicy bite, tamed with just enough sweetness to bring it all into balance. It's the way ginger ale should taste, and it only took us 85 years to figure it out. We’ve brought back a concoction from the roaring 20’s—inspired by a family recipe almost lost to history.
With your support, we will be able to rent commercial kitchen space and purchase the necessary equipment to bottle Venetian Ginger Ale in its home state of Vermont 100 years later.
Our mission to bottle Venetian Ginger Ale in Vermont runs deeper than making tasty soda—it's also about bringing back the spirit and tradition of early Vermont entrepreneurs like Michael C. Dorn, creator of the original Venetian Ginger Ale.
Steve Conant is the current owner of the historic Soda Plant building that used to house bottling operations for the original Venetian Ginger Ale back in the 1920s. We sat down with him to talk about the growing Vermont startup scene and how it mirrors the early days of Vermont industriousness. And, of course, we also talk about Venetian Ginger Ale.
Hi Kickstarter, my name is Justin. In 2015, I discovered a box in my grandfather's basement containing an archive of my family's forgotten legacy in the beverage industry. My great grandfather, Michael C. Dorn, was a German immigrant who started a soda company in 1917 and built the now historic Pine Street Soda Plant in Burlington, Vermont. There, he bottled the original Venetian Ginger Ale that quickly became a New England favorite.
I learned very quickly during my research that this wasn't your typical wholesome family business. During Prohibition, the soda operation (allegedly) acted as a nexus for whiskey running across the Canadian border, down to the major East Coast cities. It turns out that Lake Champlain was a perfect, straight shot for bootleggers looking to avoid any entanglements with the law.
Armed with inspiration from the soda’s colorful past and a radically different take on Vermont history, I decided to try my hand at making some ginger ale, with the original as my muse.
Fast forward to 2016. After making countless batches, I finally narrowed in on a balance of spiciness and subtle sweetness I just had to share with people. After receiving overwhelming encouragement to take this to the next level, I assembled a small team of believers to begin laying the groundwork for production.
Over the past year, we’ve locked in the production recipe, identified suppliers for ingredients and packaging, made contact with enthusiastic distributors, built local hype, and have done our homework to understand the production process from top to bottom. We can’t wait for you to try Venetian!
It became obvious early on that my great grandfather was obsessed with quality. The original Venetian Ginger Ale was marketed as a high-end beverage, mimicking the appearance of champagne bottles during Prohibition.
To honor his legacy (and to satisfy my inner Vermonter), I made a commitment from the very beginning that Venetian Ginger Ale will only use high quality ingredients. This means using whole ginger instead of extracts and adding a touch of sweetness with cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.
Being a craft soda startup is no picnic. While it would be easier for us to get a large, out-of-state company to formulate and bottle for us, the small batch, “Made in Vermont” quality is an intrinsic part of the heart and soul of Venetian Ginger Ale. However, bottling carbonated beverages in-state poses unique challenges: we will need the initial funds for ingredients, materials, commercial kitchen space, and capital equipment to scale our operations beyond hand-bottling (that would take an eternity!) and produce the first run of Venetian.
We are Venetian Ginger Ale. Justin Bunnell, the great great grandson of Michael C. Dorn, the man behind the original Venetian Ginger Ale. Justin's wife Anna Bunnell. Ti Kawamoto, partner and humble marketing guy. Mark Covino, award winning director of The Crest and A Band Called Death. Nathan Beaman, co-owner of The Archives bar in downtown Burlington. Matt Bornhorst, marketing super-intern.
Risks and challenges
We went into this understanding that any new venture faces risk and uncertainty. Our biggest challenge will be to overcome the initial high cost of a first run. With that said, we have come up with multiple contingencies in the event that our funding goals are not met or fall short of what is needed. This project has support from many Vermonters who have a history of generosity and share our dream of bringing this historic brand back to life. We are determined to succeed.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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