RENO AND SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) - Big Horn Olive Oil and Damon Industries are launching a new balsamic vinegar drink this month, but it's not what you might expect.
"Made in Nevada" shout at Big Horn Olive Oil
"It's really good. I love the flavor," said a customer trying the drink for the first time.
Mercedes Burkavage launched Big Horn Olive Oil with her husband John in 2012 out of a desire to bring ultra premium olive oils to northern Nevada and Las Vegas. They're building on their success with this new drink.
"The nice thing about a balsamic vinegar like ours is the fact that it has no added sugar so you're having a cocktail without the added sugar," Mercedes said.
The central theme of this drink is health, but without the sour taste. Many people drink apple cider vinegar because it's believed to improve heart health, lower blood sugar, and reduces belly fat among many other things. Mercedes and her husband developed their own recipe to deliver these same benefits but with a nice taste.
The line of balsamic drink mixes is called "Wild Horse". The flavors include Tropical Mix, Pina Colada Mix, and Punch Mix.
"Let me give that a little stir. Beautiful. There we go," said John pouring a sample for two customers in his store. "Wow! They're very different," replied one of the customers after taking a sip.
This report is about to take you on the journey from the proprietary small batch recipe Mercedes and John came up with to mass production at 822 Packer Way in Sparks where Damon Industries is located.
The process is a myriad of back and forth with tweaks to get it just right for your consumption at home.
Allen Nelson is the head mixer at Damon Industries. It's his job to make a recipe for a giant batch, but the drink he concocts must also meet government regulations for consumer consumption and he must extend the shelf life of the product, which is no easy task.
He starts with several two gallon jugs of Big Horn Olive Oil's proprietary vinegar. They all go into a big mixer, water is added along with other secret ingredients. Then Allen walks a small sample about 200 feet into the lab located on site. A small drop of the drink is place on this reader. The number 23.5 is revealed and the lab tester says, "Good to go."
The number 23.5 represents the sugar content from the grapes that are in each batch, which is the right amount to give the customer a balanced smooth taste between the sweet and the sour from the vinegar adding a depth of flavor.
The next step is a tasting in the lab and finally a visit from Mercedes herself to Damon Industries to taste the drink for her final approval.
It checks out. Everyone is happy.
The final step is bottling. The drink mix is poured into bottles. The top sealed. A label put on and it's finally boxed and ready for shipment to the two two Big Horn Olive Oil locations in Reno and the one in Las Vegas along with online sales across the United States.
The Wild Horse line of drink mix is meant to be served with soda water and anything else you want to add at home.
You can buy the "Wild Horse" drink mix by going to either Big Horn Olive Oil locations in Reno at 3888 Mayberry Drive or 75 Foothill Road #3. You can also buy the drink at the Las Vegas location at 2110 North Rampart Boulevard.