5 Charlotte-area restaurants (and breweries) making their own sodas

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You want something to drink, but you don’t want to drink – not alcohol, anyway.

You know the drill at most restaurants: You can order a round of one of the usual suspects (Coke, Pepsi, etc.). You can settle for iced tea. You can ask for water.

Or, you can hope you landed at one of a handful of places that are making their own house sodas. Places like Kindred in Davidson, where general manager Blake Pope creates a new soda every few weeks from local ingredients, or Dogwood Southern Table, where bar manager Brian Lorusso is making ginger beer and shrubs from fresh ginger.

You could stop by Not Just Coffee at 7th Street Public Market for an Italian soda made from seasonal syrups, like grapefruit-mint, plum-allspice or cinnamon-orange. Or at Heist on North Davidson, where they serve housemade root beer and ginger beer they also use in recipes.

At Free Range Brewing on North Davidson Street, you don’t have to get a beer: Using local-ingredient concentrates created by Cleveland County farmer Jamie Swofford, Free Range offers sparkling sodas in flavors like blackberry ginger, muscadine rose and sumac hybiscus ginger.

Here are the housemade sodas we found:

Kindred

131 N. Main St., Davidson, 980-231-5000, open lunch and dinner; closed Sundays and Mondays.

Seasonal sodas made with local ingredients that change every few weeks. Currently: Ginger honey switchel with muscadine.  “It was a refreshing thing to throw back when you’re hot,” Pope says.

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Dogwood Southern Table & Bar

4905 Ashley Park Lane (behind Whole Foods), 704-910-4919, open for lunch and brunch Sunday-Friday, dinner daily.

Housemade ginger beer, plus shrubs and flavored syrups that change seasonally.

“There’s nothing worse when you’re at a bar and three people are drinking and the fourth is not, like she’s pregnant. And she’ll say, “I’ll just have water,'” Lorusso says. “I love to be able to say, ‘Let me make you something fun.’

“To see the change of expression on their face is so much fun.”

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Free Range Brewing

2320 N. Davidson St., 980-201-9096, closed Monday-Wednesday.

On-tap sodas made with local-ingredient concentrates from Shelby farmer Jamie Swofford.

“He really gets these flavor profiles, and he understands our needs for how it’s served,” says Jason Alexander of Free Range. “They’re all delicious. It’s hard for us not to drink them all.”

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Heist Brewery

2909 N. Davidson St., 704-375-8260, open daily.

Housemade root beer and ginger beer.

The entire main dining room at the Heist Brewery is lined by a glass wall encasing the establishment's brewery._ Seven breweries now call our area home - plus at least one outfit seeking a site, and two outposts of national chains. Brewpubs are flourishing and specialty suds shops are opening -- most recently the Good Bottle Company in South End - where you can both taste beers and take them home. The Common Market in Plaza Midwood kicked off a new 15-tap system at the end of October, and the newest brewery/restaurant in town, Heist, held its grand opening in late October in NoDa._ Heist Brewery, located at 2909 N. Davidson St. in NoDa, is open 11:30- midnight Sunday-Wednesday, and to 2 a.m. on Thursday through Saturday. _Craft beers are brewed within site of restaurant goers on Wednesday November 7, 2012. John D. Simmons - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Not Just Coffee in 7th Street Public Market

224 E. Seventh St., open daily.

Sodas only offered at 7th Street, but may be added later at the Atherton Market location. Italian-style sodas made from housemade seasonal syrups topped with sparkling water.

Happy Friday friends! Stop on by and have coffee 👌🏻 #njcclt

A photo posted by notjustcoffee (@notjustcoffee) on

Photos: Charlotte Observer file; Kathleen Purvis; John D. Simmons/Charlotte Observer

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