Ale-8-One Bottling Co., maker of the ginger & citrus based soft drink Ale-8-One (aka “A Late One”), kicks off its celebration of the drink’s 90th anniversary today. Since July 13, 1926, soda lovers have been drinking the unique ginger formula originally created by beverage innovator and founder George Lee Wainscott.

A true entrepreneur, G. L. (Lee) Wainscott got his start in the bottling business in Winchester, KY in 1902 with distilled water and flavored sodas, known as Wainscott’s Flavors. After being unsuccessfully sued by Coca-Cola for developing his own thriving cola beverage, Roxa-Kola, Wainscott began the search for a recipe all his own that would stand the test of time. He traveled to post war Europe where ginger beers were popular, and brought home a few recipes. He loved the rich ginger flavor but preferred less bite, adding more citrus and floral notes.

Wainscott perfected the Ale-8 recipe in 1926, launching his new beverage at the Clark County Fair, where he allowed folks to sample the product and held a naming contest. Submitted by a young girl, “A Late One”, slang for the “latest thing” in soft drinks, was the winning entry. Being in the midst of prohibition, Wainscott transformed the phrase into the name the drink has carried for 90 years, Ale-8-One. Those who couldn’t imbibe could still enjoy a refreshing, nonalcoholic treat.

“Ale-8 has always stood apart from typical ginger ales because it has more flavor, less carbonation, and less sugar with an added kick of caffeine. Yet it goes down smoothly, without the bite found in ginger beers,” said Fielding Rogers, 4th generation owner and great-great nephew of Wainscott. “To me, the most special ingredient is the care and heritage we put into every bottle. I still mix up the secret formula by hand myself, the fourth generation in the family to do so. Not only is it made with real ginger extract that has been blended specifically for Ale-8-One, but many people say our classic green glass bottles add a little magic to the experience.”

Ale-8 is surely one of the last soft drink bottlers left in the United States continuing to receive and refill the old returnable, long neck, glass bottles. These bottles are thicker and heavier than today’s bottles, and people say Ale-8 tastes best in the refillable bottle, perhaps because the thicker glass holds the cold longer, perhaps because of the memories each bottle contains. They also represent true recycling and are making a comeback with restaurants that focus on local, authentic and green.

Pair the unique flavor of the drink with the company’s proud heritage as a Kentucky based, family-owned business since 1902, and Wainscott’s legacy continues to grow.