Lemonade that'll lift your spirits

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 March, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 March, 1996, 12:00am

When Duncan MacGillivray commandeered his neighbour's orchard of elderly Lisbon lemons to make a brew for his Adelaide bar, he had no idea Two Dogs Alcoholic Lemonade would bark so loudly.

In just two years, the enterprise has grown from a five-keg experiment to a multi-million dollar drinks business, ironically contributing to a 32 per cent rise in the price of Australian lemons.

Most of the original 3,000 cases sent to Hong Kong have been sold and an order of 70,000 cases will be delivered soon. Elsewhere in the world, sales of Two Dogs is expected to clock up about three million cases this year, bringing in $573 million. Not bad for a drink designed as a thirst-quenching alternative to the amber nectar at Mr MacGillivray's Astor Hotel.

He explains the amazing success of the product. 'Obviously I was excited about Two Dogs at the beginning as it was the world's first alcoholic lemonade,' Mr MacGillivray said during a recent visit to Hong Kong. 'But how can you imagine something this big? It's impossible to judge - it could just as easily have bombed.' The label advises that Two Dogs is best served chilled with ice and a slice of lemon. And, yes, it is undeniably superb, like someone spiked your granny's homemade lemonade. Yet at 4.2 per cent alcohol it affords hours of boozing without total inebriation.

'It's also a good mixer,' says Mr MacGillivray. 'T & T is my favourite - Two Dogs and tequila - or a T & V is pretty good - Two Dogs and vodka.' It may not be giving him hangovers but the lemonade's name is certainly giving its founder a few headaches.

'The name started off as a bit of a joke suggested by a friend of mine who was fed up with me asking him what I should call it,' he says. 'It stems back to an old joke which most Australians will know. But in Asia, of course, everyone wants to know how I came to name it, which can get a bit tricky.' There is an extremely cryptic explanation on the label - and six strategically placed paw prints to give the uninitiated a clue. In short, it's not such a clean joke.

Now a new MacGillivray product is about to enter the market. Called Rhubarb Rhubarb, it's sparkling, red, tangy but sweet, and is made from the fermented fruit of the same name.

'Rhubarb has always had a boring image so I decided to liven it up a bit,' Mr MacGillivray says. 'A British supermarket chain has exclusivity on the first three months starting in April and we will then start to expand distribution.

'If I had to sum up the secret of our success I would say we are in demand for our 'realness'. There's nothing artificial about our products . . . they fit in with people's lifestyles and we just hit the right market at the right time.' Two Dogs is available at Oliver's ($11) and Park'N Shop, and from next week at 7-Eleven. Bars selling it include Mad Dogs, the 1997 Group, Ned Kelly's Last Stand, the Kangaroo Pub and Restaurant, The Fringe Club, The Flying Pig and Joe Bananas. The price is about $40 a bottle.

No nutritionist will tell you junk food is good food, but more than a few will recommend keeping it in your diet.

'Each of us have our own weaknesses,' said Linda Van Horn, a dietitian and professor of preventive medicine at a United States medical school. 'Potato or corn chips are basically worthless for nutritional purposes; they are simply calories and salt. But some people find them to be fun food.' Eating habits that do not allow for some fun will not last. The key is knowing when you can 'afford' junk foods as part of your daily intake.

'The typical person needs about 2,000 calories each day to fuel basic living activities,' Professor Van Horn said. 'It takes about 1,200 calories to get vital nutrients for the body. So the other 800 calories are for discretionary use.' Anyone exercising regularly will need more calories and consequently can boost the 'fun quotient' in their eating habits.

Most experts, however, still suggest that you get most discretionary calories from nutrient-dense foods such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains. This is better for your weight and your heart.