Press Clips: Meet the Soda Sommelier

Kathrine Larsen, Marylebone Journal

Kathrine Larsen

The Sophistication of Soft Drinks

Kathrine Larsen, winner of the United Kingdom’s 2014 Sommelier of the Year award, is taking her tasting talents to soda. VICE Media recently profiled the 32-year-old Larsen, who got into the business of tasting and pairing soft drinks when she was commissioned by South African sparkling juice company Appletiser to come up with a series of non-alcoholic options for racing season at Ascot Racecourse.

Larsen expanding the scope of her work coincides with a greater shift away from alcoholic beverages that’s currently being seen throughout the UK. According to the UK’s Office of National Statistics, one in five adults now abstain from alcohol completely, including 40 percent of 16 to 24 year olds.

“There’s been a move this way for a while,” she said. “Maybe two years ago there was a focus on water, and you saw water sommeliers and restaurants that will only serve water appear all around the world. If you go to an artisan coffee place, they really focus on enhancing the different type of beans and you can distinguish between them the aroma, mouth-feel, and texture. This is the next thing. I thought pairing soft drinks could be interesting.”

Diet Soda’s Troubles Continue

A California-based advocacy group is looking to take the Diet out of Diet Soda. According to The Seattle Times, U.S. Right to Know filed citizen petitions with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week, seeking to block beverage companies from using the word “Diet” to describe artificially sweetened products.

“Consumers are using products – Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi – that are advertised to make us think they assist in weight loss, when in fact ample scientific evidence suggests that this is not true, and the opposite may well be true,” read the petition.

The American Beverage Association begs to differ. In a press release published last month, the trade organization defended diet beverages, saying “Previous research, including human clinical trials, supports that diet beverages are an effective tool as part of an overall weight management plan. Numerous studies have repeatedly demonstrated the benefits of diet beverages – as well as low-calorie sweeteners, which are in thousands of food and beverages – in helping to reduce calorie intake”

Concerns over the safety of aspartame and and other artificial sweeteners have dogged the diet soda industry for years, but Right to Know’s Executive Director Gary Ruskin says the organization’s recent actions are the first to take the industry to task for deceptive marketing tactics.

NYC’s Drink by Workout Guide

AM New York has published “The Best Beverages by Workout,” asking New York City fitness instructors to name the best post-exercise drinks for their respective activities. Alkaline water brand Essentia was named the water to hydrate with post-yoga class by Movement Fitness instructor Heidi Kristoffer. If a Soul Cycle spin class is more up your alley then it’s Juice Generation’s coconut water you’ll need for its electrolyte-replenishing properties. Runners get Liquiteria’s Turmeric Tonic and for those fresh out of a Zumba class, well, apparently they just need some water.

The Joys of Parenthood

Parenthood changes everything folks. Just ask NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer, who told reporters outside of Texas Motor Speedway last week that the biggest change since the birth of his six-month-old son Cash has been a decline in consumption of evening “beverages.”

“It’s not days – the days are fine,” Bowyer said. “The nights are a struggle for me. That’s a game-changer. Usually through your 20s, maybe early 30s, the night life changes drastically from staying out enjoying a few beverages with your friends to changing diapers. You don’t do those beverages anymore.”

Speak for yourself Clint.