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Raft Syrups: Innovative, Tasty and Fun

A small Portland, Oregon company is making its mark in the craft cocktails industry with production of an intriguing assortment of three different syrups. But you don’t have to add them to alcohol if you don’t want to. Raft Syrups are equally popular served in soda water or used in home soda machines.

They make a Hibiscus Lavender, Lemon Ginger, and Smoky Vanilla. All three flavors are popular, but Hibiscus Lavender is more popular in spring and summer, Lemon Ginger in fall, and Smoked Tea Vanilla in winter.

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Co-owner Roslynn Tellvik says the Smoked Tea Vanilla has a smoky pine flavoring. “It’s almost like a campfire with a cream soda. It also has dandelion root, which gives it really interesting layers. It’s really fun in cocktails.”

The idea for a company initially began as a personal quest to make great cocktails. Tellvik said she’s a frequent reader of Imbibe Magazine. “They have all these beautiful cocktails and most require a syrup to make the cocktail.”

She teamed up with Sook Goh, a food scientist, to experiment with adding botanicals (health-promoting herbs, roots, and flowers) to create enticing syrups. Goh has a background blending teas for Tazo and also working for Starbucks. The result: syrups that family and friends loved and they wanted more. The applause isn’t just coming from those in their circle. They received two Good Food Awards in the spirits category for Hibiscus Lavender and Lemon Ginger. 

Even though the company has just passed the one-year mark, with Tellvik and Goh still making small batches and hand bottling, capping and labeling, Raft Syrups are already in 63 stores in 15 states and Canada. They also sell their syrups on their website.

“One misconception is the level of sweetness,” said Tellvik. “We recommend one tablespoon of syrup in eight ounces of soda water. That only adds 50 calories. It has sweetness, but it’s not adding as many calories as some of the other beverages out there.”

smoky palomaCheck out this cocktail recipe for a Smoky Paloma:

2 oz. tequila

2 oz. ruby red grapefruit juice

1 tablespoon RAFT Smoked Tea Vanilla syrup

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

sparking water


salt for the rim (Himalayan pink salt suggested)

Moisten half the rim of a highball glass with a lime wedge. Put some salt on a plate and roll the moistened half-rim through the salt to lightly coat. Combine tequila, grapefruit juice, RAFT syrup, and lime juice in the glass. Stir. Add two to four ice cubs and top with soda water, to taste. Garnish with a lime wedge.

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