SparklingICE cocktailSparkling ICE, TalkingRain’s line of flavored, no-calorie carbonated waters, has seen explosive growth in the past few years as consumers seek out healthier beverages and demand for flavored waters continues to grow. In addition to being a major player in the flavored water trend, the brand is participating in the consumer craze for all things culinary by teaming with New York City-based chef Jordan Carfagno on a collection of recipes featuring Sparkling ICE beverages. I interviewed Nina Morrison, VP of community and customer relations for TalkingRain Beverage Company about why the brand decided to seek out a chef and how they create the recipes.

When and why did Sparkling ICE decide to start offering recipes?

Although Sparkling ICE’s bold flavor refreshment is delicious when enjoyed on its own, we also knew our beverage served as an excellent cocktail mixer. At first our team used Sparkling ICE as a low-calorie substitute for cocktails that are usually loaded with sugar and calories, for example our mixologists created our Sparkling ICE Lemon Lime Margarita. We then started to get a bit more creative, testing Sparkling ICE in recipes for popsicles, punches, and even cake mixes and grilling glazes. These recipes are popular with our consumers who value flavor but also want to live a healthy, active lifestyle. Incorporating zero-calorie Sparkling ICE into recipes is often a great substitute for using sugary ingredients.

Mixing up a cocktail with Sparkling ICE is a pretty straightforward way for consumers to use packaged beverages in a recipe, but how does Sparkling ICE come up with recipes like the Sparkling Pomegranate Blueberry Balsamic Glaze?
Once we delved into more advanced recipe creation, we started working with an experienced, NYC-based chef named Jordan Carfagno. Jordan has been extremely helpful in crafting our inventive food and glaze recipes, such as the Sparkling Pomegranate Blueberry Balsamic Glaze. Jordan’s idea for this recipe comes from the fact that traditionally a fruit and balsamic reduction can consist of balsamic vinegar, fruit juice and sugar being reduced on low heat until it’s thick and syrupy. All of these ingredients combined balance each other out, so the reduction is not too tangy, and not too sweet. The fruit juice compliments the vinegar and the sugar cuts a lot of tang from the two. Jordan used this as an inspiration because Sparkling ICE contains both fruit juice and a zero-calorie sweetener, Splenda. When reduced, we are left with a deep colored, low sugar, and tasty reduction that pairs well with many foods.

Sparkling ICE created a collection of berry-themed recipes for National Berry Month in July. What other holidays present big opportunities for creating food and beverages with sparkling ICE?
Since Sparkling ICE is available in thirteen flavorful assortments, we have a lot of opportunities for food and recipe creation surrounding national holidays and observances. For example, National Lemonade Day was August 20, and we have four Lemonade varieties that are excellent for creating everything from Arnold Palmer cocktails to lemon cake. There is even a National Margarita Day; our Sparkling ICE Low-Calorie Margarita is a hit on that day! We also look for seasonal opportunities to create recipes, such as our summer grilling recipes and glazes as well as holiday-inspired cocktails.

Where do the recipe ideas come from, and how are they tested?
Our more advanced food recipes are crafted by expert chef Jordan Carfagno, who uses his knowledge of food and beverages to incorporate Sparkling ICE into recipes in inventive ways. Many of our cocktail recipes are created in-house or by another partner of ours, for example Tommy Gene Harlow, a Pacific Northwest food and style expert who teaches craft cocktail creation classes.

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