"Some restaurants use the wrong ratio of syrup to water, resulting in a too-diluted, forgettable version or an inedibly strong version. Try Aunt Rosie's as a benchmark."
If someone told you that there was a delicious fruit-flavored soft drink that was only available in one region of the United States, all but completely unknown outside of that region, and yet bottled by Pepsi-Cola, would you believe it? Well, it's true, and the beverage is Loganberry - also known as Loganberry Juice - a rich red, uncarbonated drink that is now sold in cans, bottles, and even jugs of syrup. You'll be hard-pressed to find it outside of Buffalo, unless you're in Southern Ontario, Canada, but you'll be surprised at where you can find something close.
The Secret: Originally cultivated in California in the 1880s, Loganberry is an actual berry, a hybrid made from accidentally crossing a raspberry with a blackberry. According to legend, the Loganberry wasn't popular as a fruit on the West Coast, but quickly found success in beverage form at a Lake Erie summer resort (and now-defunct amusement park) called Crystal Beach. Though the Crystal Beach park is closed, the beach community lives on, as does the Loganberry drink - properly served sweet, with a thick consistency, without carbonation. A Canadian company called Cronfelt continues to sell the classic version of Loganberry in syrup form, instructing buyers of its Cronfelt's Crystal Beach Loganberry Beverage Syrup ($5/1 qt.) to mix four parts water to every one part of syrup, but pre-made versions are better-known and more popular today. Pepsi-Cola bottles and sells the well-known brand Aunt Rosie's Loganberry, which we swear by and have been able to enjoy in both bottled and syrup jug form.
Notably, a more recent competitor, PJ's Crystal Beach Loganberry, is now sold in regular, diet, and sparkling versions, the latter two never previously conceived due to the sugary sweetness and syrupy consistency of the original. The maker of PJ's, Sarasoda, previously partnered with Niagara Falls, NY-based Johnnie Ryan to sell a version to restaurants; now independent of PJ's, this version is known as Johnnie Ryan's Sugar Cane Loganberry, which like Cronfelt's version uses sugar as a sweetener rather than corn syrup.
The Shame: Other than the fact that it's hard to find outside of Buffalo, something that the makers of PJ's Crystal Beach Loganberry are trying to change, the only Loganberry shames are these - the canned Aunt Rosie's version has traditionally had an awful metallic taste that should be avoided at all costs. Some restaurants use the wrong ratio of syrup to water, resulting more often in a too-diluted, forgettable version than an inedibly strong version. And finally, we're not huge fans of the PJ's or Johnnie Ryan's versions, as they're thinner than our favorites; the latter at least has the right sweetness, if not the right viscosity. If you're not from the area, our advice would be to try Aunt Rosie's as a benchmark, so you'll know what it's supposed to be like elsewhere.
The Alternatives: Surprisingly, a completely different fruit, the Lingonberry, has been incorporated into a very similar drink that's available in Ikea store restaurants. Though Ikea's Lingonberry Juice isn't as strong as Loganberry, and tastes a little more tart and less sweet as it's derived from a more cranberry-esque berry, it's good enough to pass muster when you can't get the real thing.
(Note: This article was last updated March 4, 2009.)