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Times of the Islands Magazine

Designing Drinks - New and Creative Beverages Find Their Way to Florida Shelves

Oct 26, 2020 08:43PM ● By Gina Birch

The beverage industry is like fashion––trends come and go with thousands of producers vying for shelf space and your attention. Even the best-tasting product could quickly get bumped if packaging and messaging are not on point.

In addition, more consumers are looking for cleaner beverage options that lean toward health for both their bodies and the environment. Following an afternoon of sipping numerous, mostly adult beverages that are new to Southwest Florida, my friendly tasting panel and I agreed these not only look great, but they’re also quite tasty in their own unique ways.

Pulp Culture 

An alcoholic drink that is natural and raw, Pulp Culture is made from real fruit and botanicals that are said to help your body adapt to stress. “Botanicals are Mother Nature’s way of giving you medicine,” says cofounder Mark McTavish. “We’ve been doing it for thousands of years, so why would we not take that knowledge and incorporate it into a beverage.” 

Fruits are cold pressed into juice and fermented by their natural yeast and sugar, no additives. After a secondary fermentation, the juice is blended with various herbs and teas before carbonation is added.

What is not added are sweeteners, sulfites and sugar. At 4.9 percent alcohol, the drinks are only 99 calories per 12-ounce serving. Naturally occurring probiotics also make the drinks easier to digest.

Pulp Culture comes in four flavors. I sipped a can of Think while writing, hoping for a boost in brain power and energy as promised on the label. Made with guava, peach, ginseng, matcha and lion’s mane, it’s tart and fizzy with a tropical finish.

Other selections include Hustle (passionfruit, strawberry, ginger, turmeric, lion’s mane) to help you feel good and “get stuff done;” Relax (blueberry, lemon, lavender, valerian root, reishi) to take the edge off; and Restore (grapefruit, goji berry, dandelion milk, thistle, reishi) for cleansing. 

If you enjoy natural wines, sour beers or kombucha, this beverage is right up your alley.

Fun Wine Company

Based in Miami, Fun Wine has fun labels designed by Miguel Paredes, known internationally for his urban realist designs. He also has a gallery in the famed Wynwood Arts District in Miami.

The wines themselves, crafted by founder Joe Peleg, debuted at Miami’s famous Art Basel in 2019. Peleg’s intention was to produce low-calorie, low-alcohol, refreshing wines that were visually appealing and fun to drink. Mission accomplished. 

The Sangria bottle is adorned with brilliant roses, a flamenco dancer and Paredes’ signature anime cat. Add your favorite fruits, pour over ice and you are ready to go. The Strawberry Rosé Moscato is full of strawberry flavors that are depicted on the label, perfect for poolside or as a frosé.

If you like wines on the sweeter side, these are for you. Fun Wine products are also available in cans. 

Sunshine Sparkling Energy Water

With a name like this, Sunshine seems almost inevitable for any Southwest Floridian looking for a better-for-you energy drink. Each can contains about the same amount of caffeine found in a single cup-o-joe; it’s sourced from organic green coffee beans.

The real pick-me-up comes from a huge dose of vitamins—everything from A through E, including important B12, B6, B3 and B5 for a little extra boost. 

The sparkling water also includes electrolytes and key minerals for hydration. With zero calories, artificial sweeteners, flavors, color or sugar, Sunshine Sparkling Energy Water comes in flavors including Lotus Pear, Pomegranate Acai and Citrus Lime. 

The 12-ounce cans are now in Publix Supermarkets.

Clean tasting and thirst quenching, Sunshine Sparkling flavors are pleasing on their own but also particularly good when mixed with vodka for a lo-cal cocktail. 

NEFT Vodka

Vodka is one of the top-selling spirits in the U.S. and also one of the most versatile when it comes to mixing drinks. NEFT Vodka is turning heads with its portable, unbreakable barrel that keeps vodka cold for up to six hours, a near-perfect combo for the outdoor Florida lifestyle. 

This ultra-premium vodka is crafted from pristine spring water in the Austrian Alps and four types of non-GMO ancient rye grains. It’s distilled three times in a copper-pot still with carbon filtration. The result is a smooth vodka with a sweet spice on the finish, good for both martinis and mixing.

Besides its appealing flavor, it’s just cool. The barrels come in black or white and in several sizes: 1 liter, 750 ml, 100 ml. If you prefer more traditional packaging, it also comes in bottles. 

Have fun experimenting with these new finds this fall.


  • NEFT Honey Bear
  • 5 raspberries
  • 2 ounces NEFT Vodka
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ½ ounce honey syrup
  • Prosecco 

Muddle raspberries and add all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and pour over ice into a collins glass. Top with prosecco and garnish with a lemon twist.


Gina Birch is a regular contributor. A lover of good food, good drinks, and a fun time, she is also a well-known media personality in Southwest Florida.