The Summer Soda Tasting 2 fundraiser at this last Sunday, was promoted as L.A.’s “Amusement Park of Soda."
That pretty much made it a “must-attend” for me.
I have a fervent love for the ; all net proceeds from Tasting 2 benefited the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition's (FoSWMC) efforts to permanently re-open the museum to the public.
I’m also a big fan of Galco’s and its proprietor John Nese, who supervised staff while talking about the importance of re-opening the Southwest Museum. According to Nese, the museum is situated on a “crossover” spot where local Native Americans once sat and watched the sun come up as they prepared to die.
Along with the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition, Nese is determined not to let the same thing happen to the museum.
The Independents and the King of Pop
Not surprisingly, I’m not Nese’s only fan. Everyone I talked to on Sunday sugared their commentary on the product with praise for the “King of Pop."
One of the stars of Summer Soda Tasting 2 was Dublin Bottling Works. Kent Crouch--who rose from “yard boy” to General Manager of the Works--signed and auctioned off two of the last six-packs of Original Dublin Dr. Pepper, which raised $150 for the Friends of the Southwest Museum. Dr. Pepper had been bottled in Dublin, Texas, since 1891 until the corporate Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group shut them down this year.
In addition to the auction, Dublin also showcased their new, national soda line at the Summer Soda Tasting 2 with seven flavors including Cola (the favorite of Kent’s son Kade) and Vanilla Crème. Crouch says they aim to “put the vanilla back in Vanilla Crème” and based on my shot glass sample, they’ve certainly succeeded.
Nese offered Crouch advice on the new line, and Galco’s is currently the exclusive West Coast source of the soda.
According to Crouch, Nese is “a giant in our world.”
It's no surprise, as Nese supports soda producers just as fervently as he does the Southwest Museum. Just as Chris Corelli.
Corelli is only the third owner of Volcanic Mineral Refresher; the water’s high magnesium content helps headaches and hangovers, acts as a digestif, and is good for athletes. Corelli, who is reintroducing the line’s sparkling water--last available in 1921--notes that Nese was one of the first to call.
Other featured, independent sodas-to-sample were: Rieme Lemonades from France, small batch Gingers by Bruce Cost and Sweet Blossom Florals (sold exclusively at Galco’s). Sweet Blossom also created Mr. Q Cumber, Beverage World Magazine “Soda of the Year” 2010, which was introduced to the world at Galco’s.
Also debuting was the new, two-day-old root beer flavor from Highland Park’s own White Rose Soda. The original White Rose soda operated on Route 66/Figueroa Street from the 1900’s to the 1960’s; a long-time Highland Park resident remembers that the White Rose staff always gave the “short” fills to the local kids to drink and enjoy. White Rose sales benefit the FoSWMC year-round.
Heart and Soul, Worms and Sharks
Pop historian Charles Phoenix created not one but two Seven Layer Soda Pop Rock Cakes for Tasting 2 as well as signature “poptails."
“Luscious Lavender” was two parts Nesbitt's Peach soda and one part Frostie Blue Cream soda with a gum drop garnish. The “Aqua Lemonada”--equal parts Lemmy Lemonade and Frostie Blue Cream Soda--was garnished with a gummy shark or worm.
As Phoenix and I chatted, Nese hurried up, his arms filled with bags.
“Here are the worms,” said Nese before dashing off again.
Phoenix, a fan of Galco’s “homespun” appeal, praised Nese’s “soul and heart”.
Nese’s gummy worm delivery skills probably don’t hurt either.
No Structure Too Small to Save
Councilman Ed Reyes, who attended the event with his Chief of Staff Jose Gardea, lauded Nese’s efforts to “build up community support for the oldest museum in Los Angeles” and the “only museum that Charles Lummis had a hand in building.”
The Councilman further underscored Nese’s commitment to preservation; when the Mystic Dharma Buddhist Center was planning to demolish a house for a parking lot, Nese moved the building four blocks away and rebuilt it.
Summer Soda Tasting 2 a Success!
Nicole Possert, who leads the Friends’ efforts to reopen the Southwest Museum to the public, reported via email that “event attendance was significantly UP over last year at just under 800” while the “inaugural event pulled in just under 600.”
Attendance may have been up and the lines may have seemed amusement-park-long but the mom-and-pop store was much less congested than last year.
Not surprisingly, the long-time preservation advocate was “exhausted yet elated.”
Who wouldn’t be with the King of Pop in their corner?!