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

2020 Ponoka business awards
Ponoka chamber 2020 Business Award winners

The Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce 2020 Business Awards were held… Continue reading

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owner found

Father and son found miniature horse while out for a walk at JJ Collett

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

(Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ponoka FCSS’ Empty Bowls sells out

For the first time ever, Ponoka Family and Community Support Services’ (FCSS’s)… Continue reading

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

Marissa Cunnington. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
NARCHC year end horse show photos and results

The Northern Alberta Reined Cow Horse Club (NARCHC) held its futurity, derby… Continue reading

From l-r., first lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden on stage at the conclusion of the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump, Biden fight over the raging virus, climate and race

Republican president declared the virus, which killed more than 1,000 Americans on Thursday alone, will “go away.”

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Most Read