When it comes to refreshing, natural, healthy beverages that have minimal sugar and no preservatives, our luck is somewhat ill-fated. Unless you're making some fruit juice at home, it's highly unlikely to come across similar, drink-off-the-shelf products in Sri Lanka that tick all the above boxes.
Dushyantha De Silva and Gianee De Silva saw through this, and decided to set out on a journey to concoct a range of fresh, honest beverages that hit the sweet spot between homemade goodness and shelf life. They succeeded, and just like that, a few years back, SOZO was born.
It's a brilliant product, really, so much so, that it was featured on BBC Travel, just within three months since its inception. The technology behind SOZO makes it 100% natural and biodegradable while giving them a 1-year shelf life without preservatives and refrigerating.
As of now, SOZO has over 20 flavours that are available in 200ml, 350ml, 500ml and 1l, all in glass bottles. These beverages include a collection of Ceylon Iced Teas, and juices, and getting into these roots is an experience itself.
So on a Friday evening, we stepped into ColomBar at Cinnamon Lakeside - Colombo's one-spot for arrack-based cocktails (and more) for a special evening with SOZO - its flavours, elements, and a chat with its co-founder, Dushyantha De Silva (Dush).
We Lankans are privileged to live in a country that's not only gorgeous but also blessed with a vast variety of luscious tropical fruits, and the finest tea in the world. All thanks to the generous, yet balanced use of them, SOZO crafts up some unique, delectable flavours. Needless to say, that they're actually a reflection of the passion and knack they have towards what they do.
Take this Lime Crush for example. An absolutely citrusy, lime-based drink, SOZO infuses a dose of nostalgia to this drink. We couldn't help but notice the resemblance between this and the lime-flavoured popsicles we used to gorge on as kids. It has the simplest ingredients - purified water, lime, antioxidant (citric acid), and sugar, but makes for the mouth water-ingly good profile.
Same goes with the Pani Dodang Salt. It's an ensemble of purified water, Pani Dodang, antioxidant (citric acid), sea salt and sugar. So refreshingly tart and utterly delicious!
SOZO tries to keep the drinks natural to its core, so you won't get any abnormal artificial flavours. This Strawberry Lemonade delivers the promised flavours, with the use of strawberry pulp, lime, hibiscus, purified water, sugar and antioxidant (citric acid).
While the ingredients that go into these bottles seem simple and common, SOZO's excellent recipe-craftmanship ensures that they make an explosion of flavours.
The Tamarind juice, is nothing else but the pure sour bliss squeezed from fresh Tamarind, the Mango & Passion Fruit creates a sweet and sour concoction, while the cinnamon punch in the Pineapple & Cinnamon beautifully balances out the acidity of the drink.
The Achcharu drink, again has a dash of nostalgia. As a kid, I personally enjoyed poking a hole of a mango achcharu bag and sucking out the leftover juice. If you were like me, you're bound to love this one.
SOZO's tea-based drinks, or iced tea varieties are made by brewing real Ceylon Tea leaves, and not the extracts. Therefore, all of them have an intense tea flavour, that perfectly harmonises with the other elements.
For example, consider the Peach & Mango Iced Tea. Mango is often called as the "peach of the tropics," simply because of the almost similar, yet distinct flavour and texture they have. Incorporated with natural peach and mango flavours, black tea, purified water, antioxidant (citric acid), and sugar, this one is the epitome of a good summer drink.
Let's raise a glass to SOZO Spritz because anyone can make some legit cocktails at home now!
SOZO Spritz, is SOZO's new line of natural syrups and cocktail mixers, which saves you the hassle of dressing up and going to a fancy cocktail bar for celebrations.
During our chat with Dushyantha, award-winning Mixologist Sahan Weerasinghe whipped up cocktails with ease, showing us how easy it really is to make 'em at home with SOZO Spritz Syrups. In this picture, Sahan preps the glass by swatting fresh basil, picked from ColomBar’s herb garden. With this level of detail, you can expect great things; are you ready?
This beaut is powered by two syrups of SOZO Spritz - Ginger & English Apple, and Hibiscus Raspberry, shaken with White Arrack, lime, and egg whites. A gingerly, citrusy drink with a splash of berry flavour, it's one superb way to blow off some steam on a Friday night.
We also had the pleasure of tasting a local rendition of Piña colada, fueled by SOZO Spritz Pineapple & Cinnamon, coconut cream and white arrack. A light, fruity, boozy treat with a cinnamony kick.
SOZO products are the pinnacle of refreshment and indulgence. Freshness plays a huge part in its entire process, from sourcing the ingredients to bottling them immediately to capture all the freshness. The fruits are directly sourced from farmers and smallholders, which explains their robust flavour profiles. Plus, it helps to encourage the rural communities, due to SOZO's above "fair" price.
SOZO is currently available in 300+ outlets country wide, including sought after hotels & resorts (Shangri La Hotels, Marriott, Jetwing Hotels, Mövenpick Colombo, and Wild Coast Tenant Lodge etc.), selected retailers (24 Seven, Park Street Gourmet, Good Market etc.), Supermarkets (Cargills, SPAR, GLOMARK, Keells, Aprico, LAUGFS), online stores (Daraz, Goodness Me, Liquid Island, Shoppa) and popular restaurants. You can get more details from their website www.sozoiced.com and soon, even have your SOZO delivered right to you doorstep.
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