Portland Syrups

Portland, Oregon

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Portland Soda Works was founded in 2013 by two friends, Dan McLaughlin and Chris Onstad. When Chris quit drinking alcohol, he noticed a lack of exciting non-alcoholic options at bars and restaurants. Tired of coffee and soda as his only beverage choices, he set out to create what he called the “Belgian beer of craft soda.” He and Dan started experimenting with recipes in their home kitchens in 2012 and before long they were selling their products to restaurants and bars. Portland Syrups started taking off.


At the time that Portland Soda Works was getting off the ground, Chris was a full time graphic artist. He’s also a former food critic for the Portland Mercury and was heavily immersed in the food and beverage culture of Portland for many years. Dan was a full-time blogger, investigating the 10,000-hour theory (from Malcom Gladwell’s book Outliers) and writing about human performance. In 2016, three years after starting Portland Soda Works, they left their day jobs and now both work full time at the company they started.


The Portland Syrups team takes a lot of pride in the high-quality and small-batch process that they’ve created. They also really enjoy their jobs – being a part of the daily process, cultivating relationships with their clients and collaborating with other local companies. The maximum batch size is 40 gallons and they still hand bottle, label and shrink wrap the bottles themselves.


They carefully steep their botanical ingredients to extract flavor and nutrients. Then, they add cane sugar as the sweetener. One of the other admirable things about Portland Syrups is that they strive for less sweetener than the typical simple syrups you find behind bars. A traditional syrup is 67% sugar and theirs is 40% sugar. The goal is to continue to knock down the sugar content every year and experiment with using other natural sweeteners.

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