Rocker turned entrepreneur brews exotic soda range

Mark Pool with some of the Roots range. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Mark Pool with some of the Roots range. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A FORMER rocker is bidding to become the king of pop with the launch of his own unique craft soda range.

Drinks entrepreneur Mark Pool, 35, is set to inject a little fizz into a lucrative industry dominated by the likes of Coca-Cola and Irn-Bru by appealing to the discerning palate with his exotic carbonated creations.

The ex-guitarist from indie group Penny Blacks, who toured the UK and opened gigs for acts including Glasvegas, has founded a firm called Roots that blends unusual ingredients such as chilli, bell pepper and hibiscus with pomegranate and citrus fruit to gain a foothold in the market by returning soda brewing to a bygone era.

The Egyptian-inspired concoction, Hoodoo, has been dubbed Voodoo when mixed with gin or vodka and is sold alongside Kaleidoscope – a second product in Mark’s portfolio – brewed from strawberries, orange, basil and balsamic vinegar.

All components of the handcrafted drink are natural and given time to brew before being dispatched to deli-style supermarkets and some top Edinburgh restaurants where it sells for around £2.40 a bottle.

Mr Pool, who single- handedly runs a small brewing factory in Granton, said he was keen to get his creative juices flowing amid the demise of a musical career that saw previous bands gain airtime on Radio 1 and XFM.

“I’ve always made stuff so I just looked for something I could make, something I could be really passionate about,” he said. “I thought of the idea of making a healthier soda and when I started researching it and looking into the history of soda in the United States I got excited about it.

“I loved the fact that it was kind of rock ‘n’ roll. Smoothies are like the good guys but sodas are that bit more naughty.”

He added: “Obviously the flavours are not like what’s on the market at the moment. The first thing we are doing is try to give somebody a flavour they’ve not had before in a soda. The second is simply to make it as pure as possible.

“It’s different. People come back and say it’s not like anything they’ve tasted before.”

Graham Birse, director of the business school at Edinburgh Napier that has helped launch 133 firms last year, said Mark was a “dynamic entrepreneur”.

“The important point about entrepreneurship is uniqueness and it sounds like Mark has found a niche there,” he said.

“You can see how the microbrewing industry has grown where the ubiquitous multinational brands have to some extent been supplanted by creative craft brews that are locally made. So there is form there.”

Hoodoo and Kaleidoscope can be purchased in outlets including Peckhams, BrewDog bars, Hanging Bat and Artisan Roast.