Made in collaboration with Jim Meehan, East Imperial‘s new grapefruit soda was inspired by a cocktail Meehan made for a rum brand—one that called for a grapefruit mixer. He was unhappy with the market’s selection and felt he had to choose between a natural grapefruit juice or a soda with an artificial additive. After a conversation with Kevin Law-Smith (founder of East Imperial), the opportunity to make his own, in collaboration with the brand, arose.
At five ounces, the smaller bottle is a welcome accessory for any bar. The size assures that every Paloma (or any other grapefruit-based cocktail) boasts effervescence rather than the remnants of the lesser half of a bottle.
The soda has tart notes of real grapefruit juice and peel, just enough sweetness from cane sugar and subtle carbonation. It’s a welcome change from similar iterations that use extracts and oils to fine tune their flavor.
“Kevin Law-Smith and I blind-tasted nearly two dozen grapefruit sodas from all over the world before embarking upon our journey to create what we believe to be the most delicious grapefruit soda in the market,” Meehan says. “In our appraisal, the offerings were split between really juicy grapefruit sodas used as the base of the beverage, and sodas that I would classify more in the citrus-flavored soda category, such as Squirt and Fresca. Their ‘grapefruity-ness’ was somewhat amorphous.”
Finding a balance between the two was the pair’s mission. “I think we landed on a soda that’s delicious to drink on its own, perfect in a Paloma (you don’t need the lime juice to cut the soda’s sweetness like you do with other brands) and satisfies my personal mission to find the perfect grapefruit soda to mix into my signature Banks Rum 5 Island Flamingo,” Meehan continues.
Banks Rum 5 Island Flamingo
2 oz Banks 5-Island rum
3⁄4 oz Fresh lime juice
3 oz East Imperial Grapefruit Soda
Pour rum and lime juice to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with grapefruit soda and garnish with a lime wheel or long lime twist.