By Nancy Covert
There’s an old/new item on the menu at the Bair Bistro in Steilacoom.
It’s called “Green River” (not to be confused with the coffee-colored liquid that meanders through Auburn), and the refreshing, green beverage conjures up a bit of nostalgia for those who remember “the good old days.”
A few days before Christmas, a handful of regular customers had an opportunity to taste-test this old-fashioned liquid while Bistro proprietor Sarah Cannon experimented with the recipe to replicate the perfect “Green River.”
After several patrons had sampled the mixture, Jane Bair Light, granddaughter of Bair Store founder, W. L. Bair, added her straw into the sample blend…sipped deeply, paused …and pronounced, “no, it needs a bit more syrup.”
The syrup/soda proportions, Cannon vowed, will be perfected by the time patrons flock to the Steilacoom Historical Museum’s “Living Museum” to order the renowned soda fountain drink.
According to www.ask.com/wiki/ Chicago’s Schoenhofer Brewery developed the soft drink as a non-alcoholic option during Prohibition. That was in 1919, and, eventually, the refreshing mixture trailed Coca Cola in popularity.
By the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the Brewery’s owners returned to making alcoholic beverages, with Green River being relegated to second place. Nowadays the Clover Club Bottling Corp. of Chicago produces this nostalgic item that’s served primarily in chain restaurants such as Schoop’s Hamburgers, Hackney’s or Pepe’s. Prior to St. Patrick’s Day, the soft drink is available at Chicago-area supermarkets. Besides being available at the Bair Bistro year ‘round, it’s also served at least one other old-fashioned soda fountain, but you’ll have to travel to Zaharakos’ in Columbus, IN
Eddie Cantor, an early 20th century entertainer, allegedly wrote a jingle about the soft drink, with a chorus that advises: “For a drink that’s fine without a kick, Try Green River; It’s the only soft drink you should pick!”