We all like to cheer for the underdog and Ale-8-One is a true David and Goliath sort of tale whose rumblings began on Main Street in small town Winchester. Local inventor G.L. Wainscott began experimenting with soda water and flavored drinks in 1902 and by 1906 he had a competitive entry into the cola market with “Roxa-Kola,” named after his wife Roxanne. In an effort to thwart all competition, soft drink giant Coca Cola sued and a lengthy legal battle began. As befitting an inventor, Wainscott created a way to keep selling his product even during the judicial wrangling — He simply took the label off and sold the bottles with no markings. In the end, Coca Cola was defeated and Wainscott was allowed to continue the manufacture and distribution of his beverages, albeit with a much lighter wallet thanks to attorneys’ fees.
At some point during the lawsuit, Wainscott, most likely feeling harassed and frustrated, traveled to Europe in search of “ginger beer,” a ginger ale type of soft drink not found in the States. He supposedly bought the house recipes from several ginger beer companies that were going out of business. Upon returning home to Winchester, endless experimentation went into what eventually became Ale-8-One.
The name Ale-8-One is a play on words of the phrase “A Late One” which was the submission of a young girl for the branding contest Wainscott held at the 1926 Clark County Fair. “A late one” was in reference to the beverage being the newest soft drink to hit the market.
Time passed and Roxa-Kola was discontinued in 1968 with the remaining flavored colas being discontinued in 1974 so the company could concentrate exclusively on Ale-8-One which is the only soft drink created in Kentucky to still be in existence.
In recent years, the company has expanded its brand by offering barbecue sauce, salsa and suckers, all through a collaboration with local KY Proud producers and businesses.
Today Ale-8-One is still a family owned business headquartered in Winchester. I was told that only four people alive know the recipe for the amber concoction that flavors Ale-8-One with its ginger and citrusy tones. Truly, we can all be proud of this unique Kentucky drink whose creator fought doggedly for his own piece of history. Might I suggest the next time you enjoy one of these green gem bottles that you give a nod to Mr. Wainscott, Winchester’s own deliciously mad scientist.
- 2, 1.5 lb. – 2 lb. frying chickens cut into pieces
- 1 cup Ale-8-One
- 1/2 cup salad oil
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1 medium onion grated
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. rosemary
Place chicken pieces in deep dish. Combine Ale-8-One with remaining ingredients; pour over chicken and cover the dish. Refrigerate for 3 hours and remove chicken from marinade. Bake or grill at 425 degrees basting with remaining marinade occasionally. Bake 30-40 minutes. Makes six servings.
The Ale-8-One plant in Winchester periodically does tours for the public. Reservations may be made by contacting 859-744-3484 or contacting firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.