It’s a familiar building in Burlington. They call it the Soda Plant. Ever wonder why it earned that name? It’s currently home to several stores and shops. Long ago it housed a vibrant Vermont family business.
That business eventually went away, but generations later you will soon see a return to the shelves of Venetian Ginger Ale once produced in the Soda Plant.
It was a glorious era. Pre depression in Vermont. They were the days when you dressed up where ever you went. German immigrant Michael Dorn was one of those who wore a suit everywhere he went. Justin Bunnell is the great, great grandson of Michael Dorn. “I grew up with these awesome pictures of my grandparent’s kitchen,” said Dorn. “They had this shot of the pine street building and all these guys in 3 piece suits were taking a picture and they looked real slick.” Dorn described them looking like gangsters or bootleggers. “They just looked really cool.”
Like many small businesses, Venetian Ginger Ale became a family affair.
A subtle spice and refreshing flavor, this Vermont made beverage became a huge hit across New England in the late teens and early 1920’s.
It was the age of prohibition. The Dorn’s knew there was a void to fill without the availability of champagne. The product was cranked out at this pine street building. “Venetian came in bottles in such beautiful packaging.” Said dorn. “It sort of gave you that feeing you’re celebrating your dinner or some kind of event”
But as the years and business entered the 1930’s a series of tragedies struck the Dorn family and eventually Venetian Ginger Ale became a product no longer seen on store shelves. “Prohibition was over with. WWII was coming up. There was a lot of strain on the family. One of them died in a car accident.”
Enter Justin, the 5th generation Vermonter whose curiosity about his family genealogy turned into the discovery of his great, great grandfather’s once thriving business.
Putting time in a bottle by bridging the gap of past in present, through a unique beverage that has all the flavor of Vermont.
Venetian Ginger Ale hopes to have their product back on shelves towards the end of this summer. You can sample their product this weekend at the “Made in Vermont” expo going on this weekend. For more information about the expo click the link below.