Alcohol may be a neurotoxin, but a local company is putting a healthy spin on alcoholic beverages by launching Crook & Marker, a spiked soda brand made with “organic alcohol” derived from quinoa, millet, amaranth, and cassava root, and sweetened with a stevia-based product in each 80-calorie can.

Crook & Marker’s founder is Ben Weiss, founder of Bai in Hamilton, which makes fruit juice blends that contain coffeefruit. “In founding Bai Antioxidant Beverages, I launched a ‘Bevolution’ to overturn the conventional wisdom that says ‘good for you’ and ‘great taste’ can’t co-exist,” Weiss writes on the Crook & Marker website. “We clashed for years against Big Soda to deliver flavor-packed drinks without mounds of sugar and artificial ingredients.”

Bai was acquired by Dr. Pepper in 2017.

“Soda has become a bad four-letter word in many households across America — not because anyone ever fell out of love with the taste of soda, just the sugar and broken ingredients that came with it,” Weiss said in a press release.

“When other alcohol companies tried hard sodas, they didn’t bother fixing the ingredients, which is why consumers never held on. Imagine dumping 15 packets of sugar into your drink, which is what some of those brands are doing. That’s all about to change. Crook & Marker Spiked Sodas deliver the classic, refreshing soda taste that we all love –– finally, without the sugar or artificial sweeteners.”

Crook & Marker says its new spiked sodas are caffeine free, gluten-free, and contain alcohol at 4 percent alcohol by volume.

“We see today’s consumers, particularly millennials who are now all of legal drinking age, reject sugar, carbs, and ultimately calories, but still demand great flavor and enjoyment. We believe hard seltzers were just the first stop in their pursuit for a better way to drink,” Weiss said.

“Crook & Marker’s mission is to lead the industry away from bland and compromised ingredients and give consumers what they’re seeking — a portfolio of adult beverages that are perfect for having a good time and deliver bold flavor, variety and transparency.”

The new sodas will be available in retail stores, bars, and restaurants. The sheep-themed name, “Crook & Marker” is derived from a shepherd’s crook and a black “marker” sheep that shepherds used to estimate flock size, inserting one black “marker” for every 100 sheep.

Markers Edge LLC, 1 Johnston Avenue, Hamilton 08609. 609-838-2226. Ben Weiss, founder.

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