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Hester Street Fair Profile: Fresh Ginger Ginger Ale

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Just in time for the Memorial Day Weekend edition of the Hester Street Fair, we have another vendor profile.  Fresh Ginger Ginger Ale is the creation of Asian food expert and entrepreneur Bruce Cost.  Earlier this month we posted some photos of the mural Bruce and partner Kavi Reddy commissioned at the corner of Canal and Ludlow. This week I stopped by their Lower East Side apartment to talk about the new venture.

Bruce, in partnership with Brooklyn-based TMI Trading, is bottling his fresh, unfiltered ginger ale for distribution to restaurants and stores nationwide. But he actually created the product many years ago – in 1989 – whipping up small batches for restaurants he owned in California, and later in Chicago.

The recipe is really simple: the beverage is made with fresh ginger, pure cane sugar and a bit of seltzer – no extracts or oils added. There are three flavors: original ginger, jasmine green tea and pomegranate. The company does not advertise, but has been blessed with good “buzz,” including mentions on the “Today Show” and in the New York Times.

For many years, Bruce wrote for major food-centric publications about Asian cuisine. In 1984, he penned “Ginger East to West,” a cookbook and reference guide.  In building the new company, he says, word-of-mouth publicity has proven just as important as mainstream media exposure. An Choi, the Orchard Street Vietnamese restaurant, was the first place to start serving the ginger ale.  Like many entrepreneurs before him, Bruce believes in the Lower East Side as an incubator and as a place where new ideas can take off quickly.  Downtown trendsetters, he says, were some of the first customers to sample his product in New York.  The ginger ale is now being sold in Whole Foods, Duane Reede, among many other large stores.

A regular presence at the Hester Street Fair hasn’t hurt either. Staffing the table every Saturday is a big commitment for a company with just three employees.  But Kavi was an early fan of the fair, dragging (in the nicest way possible) Bruce to Hester Street every weekend for breakfast. When the opportunity arose to become vendors, they knew it would be a good move.

You can visit Bruce and Kavi’s table each weekend. In addition to the ginger ale, they’re offering homemade steamed Berkshire pork bao sandwiches. The Hester Street Fair is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s located where Hester and Essex streets meet.

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