Bottles of Cronk are shown in this recent handout photo. (Cold Garden Beverage Company, Trevor Cox)

Bottles of Cronk are shown in this recent handout photo. (Cold Garden Beverage Company, Trevor Cox)

‘Cronk is the drink’: New take on old beverage sells out quickly in Calgary

Cold Garden brewed up 1,800, 375-millilitre bottles

The local news section of a Calgary Herald newspaper from 1883 began with a one-word paragraph: “Cronk.”

Interspersed between articles were similarly terse and mysterious phrases: “Cronk is good.” “Buy Cronk.” ”Cronk is the drink.”

A Calgary brewery, inspired by the enigmatic ads, has resurrected Cronk. Cold Garden Beverage Co. began selling stubby bottles of the fizzy, herbal-tasting beverage in its tap room Wednesday morning and ran out that night. More should be available online soon.

“I think, overall, it’s a success,” said Trevor Cox, brewer at Cold Garden.

“I think it really tastes nice when it’s cold and carbonated.”

Paul Fairie, a community health researcher at the University of Calgary, makes an occasional pastime of perusing old digitized newspapers and he often posts on Twitter the oddities he comes across.

“Oh God. I’ve got to learn more about this,” Fairie recalled thinking when he encountered the Cronk ads in June.

Cronk went viral. People posted photos of antique bottles that once contained the drink. Someone unearthed a recipe that calls for sassafras, sarsaparilla, hops, chamomile, cinnamon, ginger, green tea and molasses.

The owners of Cold Garden decided to have a go at brewing Cronk.

“The fact that it hadn’t been produced in over 100 years made us kind of interested to see what it would taste like. We couldn’t really find anywhere where anyone had said they had tasted it,” Cox said.

“The only way to find out was to brew it ourselves.”

Getting all the ingredients was tough during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Silk Road Spice Merchant, a shop near the brewery, helped procure what was needed.

The only diversion from the original recipe was leaving out sassafras. That’s because it contains a substance believed to cause cancer and Health Canada has banned it from being used in food.

The brewery used mint, burdock root and other ingredients to mimic the flavour profile of sassafras.

The first attempt at Cronk was a foul-tasting flop.

The problem was the type of molasses.

“The black strap molasses was just way too thick and you could not get any of the other flavours. It was just basically molasses fermented,” said Cox.

“So we used a different type of molasses and the second batch turned out to be exactly what we think it should have tasted like.”

Cox said the concoction has the taste of an herbal liqueur, like Jaegermeister, that’s been diluted to four per cent alcohol content and carbonated.

“It’s meant to be a light beverage.”

Cold Garden brewed up 1,800, 375-millilitre bottles. There was a lineup soon after the brewery opened on Wednesday.

Proceeds are going to the Alex Community Health Centre and to Heritage Calgary.

Some bottles were set aside for Fairie, who was expecting Cronk to taste like “maybe a nice-sipping cough syrup.”

Fairie said Cronk provided a surprising and welcome break from the COVID-19 doldrums.

“I couldn’t have searched for a more bizarre kind of way to spend a month-and-a-half or two months of the pandemic — just finding some weird thing that’s a little bit harmless and a little bit fun to get yourself involved in.”

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Trending Now

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Highway 5 southbound lanes are closed near Exit 286. Pictured are southbound lanes at 7:06 p.m. (DriveBC)
Coquihalla Highway southbound lanes closed due to vehicle incident

Southbound lanes closed between Exit 286: Merritt and the start of Hwy 5

Masks are now officially mandatory in all City of Campbell River facilities. (Black Press File Photo)
Interior Health reports 49 new COVID-19 cases overnight

302 cases remain active; two in hospital

There are numerous ways the municipality can use the money, granted by the province. Black Press file photo.
Town of Princeton gets $1 million in COVID relief

Funds to offset affects of pandemic on municipal revenues and operations

The Campbell Mountain Landfill and other landfills operated by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen will have reduced hours from December 2020 to the end of February 2021. (Contributed photo)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen landfills reduce hours for winter

Measures will take effect from December 2020 until end of February 2021

(Black Press file photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Garage in Kelowna burns to the ground, blaze deemed suspicious

Fire crews responded to the scene just after 4:30 p.m.

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

(Ty Hainsworth / Facebook)
No injuries after fire rips through South Okanagan fruit stand

A fruit stand caught fire Tuesday afternoon, closing Highway 97 for two hours

Damien Smith, with father Thomas Smith, is “frozen” with joy as he watches a special message Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds recorded for Damien’s 9th birthday on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Contributed)
Shuswap boy celebrates 9th birthday with family, community and Ryan Reynolds

People from around the world send birthday cards showing young Canoe resident he’s not alone

A major reconstruction project on 32nd Avenue is nearing completion and the road is now re-opened to traffic between 33rd Street and 35th Street. (City of Vernon photo)
ROAD REPORT: More roundabouts coming to North Okanagan

New intersection lights up Dec. 13, 30th Street paving delayed, PV Road completed in Vernon

Most Read