Muskoka Dry Pale Ginger Ale had its birth a century ago, created by Dougald Brown, who established Brown's Beverages in the old bottling plant on Gravenhurst's Bay Street, now the home of Muskoka Springs Natural Spring Water Inc.
Back in the late 19th century, Brown started bottling water from his Artesian Well for the local resorts, to counteract the pollution of the lakes caused by the logging and tanning industries. Packed in wooden crates, the hand-blown glass bottles were delivered by horse-drawn carts to the tourist camps and hotels springing up throughout Muskoka.
As soft drinks gained popularity in the early 20th century, Brown's Beverages expanded its operations, and the formula for Muskoka Dry Pale Ginger Ale became a huge success, which led to several other flavours being produced up until the late 1970s.
The vintage beverage almost disappeared for some years; but, thanks to Michael Billinghurst and Terry Galbraith, co-owners of Muskoka Springs in 1995, it reclaimed its place of distinction in the contemporary beverage market.
Recognizing the appeal of classic Canadiana, they decided to bring it back. The inimitable tang evokes a sense of nostalgia that is redolent of the timeless simple pleasures of lazy summer days in Muskoka. "It is near and dear to us," says Michael. "When cottagers come up, they like to buy it for its taste as much as for the memories it brings back."
The flavour and effervescence are exceptional, and hosts often choose it as a non-alcoholic beverage to serve at parties. Some aficionados savour the Dry Pale with the same respect that avid wine connoisseurs bring to their pastime. When the bottle is uncapped, the cool flavour releases the scent of botanical extracts; the first sip excites the palate; and a long draught satisfies and refreshes.
Building on the resounding success of the revival of Muskoka Dry Pale Ginger Ale, Muskoka Springs recently brought back the classic Muskoka Dry Orange Soda. These two remarkable vintage flavours are now easily accessible through online ordering and shipping processes.