Made in Our Hometown: Ouzon Soda
He was a musician turned lawyer. She was in publishing. Not the combo you'd think would create award winning soda, out of their home no less. But Anastasia and Phil Broikos of Penfield are doing that and are getting good reviews.
Soda Pop Reviews said, "I hate black licorice, everything about it is not good. However, this (Ouzon Soda) is fantastic."
It is getting good national press as well, a mention in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and a bronze BevStar Award from Beverage World Magazine. Its roots are local. The first sale was at the 2010 Greek Festival on East Ave in Rochester.
The Broikos created it. Both of Greek heritage, they love Greek food but could never find a soda with Greek flair. They decided that had to change and focused on the popular, strong Greek aperitif ouzo.
"We wanted to come up with something that was reminiscent of it, that had all of the flavor and the aroma without putting you under the table," Anastasia explained.
Phil, still a practicing lawyer at the time, cooked up syrup in their Penfield home.
"We had mini focus groups with friends and family and blind taste tests and they said oh I like this one, not this one," Anastasia said.
Cornell University then helped them find a certified kitchen in Dundee, NY where Phil makes the syrup now. Cornell also connected the Broikos with an out of state bottler willing to make small batches of soda. It's then distributed from a warehouse in Farmington to all over the US and sometimes all over the world.
This has been quite a journey for the married couple of two young kids.
"He was an attorney, I was in publishing. We had no background in commercial anything," Anastasia said.
Phil even spent time driving a van full of the product the across country, delivering it to Greek festivals and specialty stores along the way.
They quit their jobs and are now running the soda business full time.
They are in all the Wegmans in Monroe County where Anastasia is often offering free tastings.
It's popular in health food stores and natural restaurants. World Market carried it as a seasonal product. And you can always find it at Voula's Greek Sweets on Monroe Avenue in Rochester.
"I would say that 90% of what makes Ouzon, Ouzon is done here in upstate NY," Anastasia said with pride.