Ode to Ginger

How Boulder’s OliKo Is Bringing Ginger Beer Back to Its Delicious Basics

Article by Lisa Van Horne

Photography by Courtesy of Oliko

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Gabriel Oliver-Kose’s love of ginger—and all things spicy for that matter—stems from his childhood. Since his youth full of cooking ginger-infused meals inspired by his father’s upbringing in India, Gabriel has continued to be influenced by this powerful plant throughout his career.

“There is so much more to ginger than its spiciness,” Gabriel says. “The amazing warming sensation mixed with its tummy-taming powers has always made it special in my mind. When I found myself in the beverage world, it only made sense for me to reach first for ginger over other ingredients.”

Alongside his passion for ginger, Gabriel also developed an intense interest in fermentation throughout his more than 10 years working in the fine dining and bar industries in both California and Colorado. As a sommelier and craft cocktail bartender, he noticed a major gap in the market for high-quality drink mixers that were on par with the spirits he was pouring. This was the genesis of OliKo—Gabriel’s cultured, probiotic and non-alcoholic ginger beer recipe that is also the namesake of his Boulder company founded in 2019.

As the founder, owner and spice master of OliKo, Gabriel notes that his brand’s ginger beer pays homage to the origins of the beverage—a history that dates back to the 18th century when it served as a popular alcoholic drink in England and its colonies. However, he notes that this original concoction made by fermenting ginger and sugar in water is often drastically altered in its modern iterations with dominant extracts, preservatives and an overload of sugar.

“OliKo literally goes back to the roots of ginger beer,” says Gabriel. “There are no extracts or preservatives in our spicy fresh beverages ever. The end result is a no-nonsense ginger beer that has minimal ingredients, a spicy backbone and a tangy finish.”

OliKo ginger beers are created using fresh-pressed, organic ingredients—such as Peruvian ginger—and wild fermentation. While originally created to serve as a cocktail or mocktail mixer, OliKo ginger beers also stand alone beautifully as fizzy, delicious imbibements. Gabriel notes that, with their four flavors currently on rotation, there is an OliKo ginger beer perfect for anyone, any season or any occasion.

For the purist looking for a classic go-to? The Classic Ginger contains just three ingredients and is a spicy, tangy option for ginger beer sipping or cocktail creation.

For a cozy, especially warming experience? The Carrot Turmeric is unique in its utilization of a vegetable versus a fruit, and it provides earthy tones and the added boost of the health benefits of turmeric.

For a recommendation from the spice master himself? The Green Apple Cardamom is inspired by two of Gabriel’s favorite things—apples and the unique flavor profile of the cardamom spice. It is his personal favorite of OliKo’s flavors with its balance of tartness, sweetness and spice, and it’s his choice when it comes to enjoying it on its own as well.

For thirsty summer dreamers looking for a respite from the winter chill? The Blackberry Mint is OliKo’s most recent flavor and is a celebration of the tastes synonymous with Colorado summers.

The myriad benefits of OliKo extend beyond the physical properties of its ginger beers and permeate the company’s mission as a whole. Deeply invested in nurturing the Boulder community, Gabriel is a champion of both local nonprofit organizations and the local food and beverage scene.

“Boulder is a very special place for food and beverage brands,” says Gabriel. “There is a wealth of resources both independently and through Naturally Boulder, and it is also home to some of our favorite brands that have gone on to see national success. We feel blessed to be based in such an amazing town.”

For more information and a trove of exciting ginger beer cocktail and mocktail recipes, visit the OliKo website at OlikoGingerBeer.com.

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