Rachel’s Ginger Beer expands.
“Have you ever seen photos of Thomas Edison’s lab in Florida? It’s as minimal as you can get as a mad scientist.”
Rachel Marshall recently leased a corner storefront in Pike Place Market for a soda fountain and cocktail bar that she plans to style after Edison’s sleek, rustic glass-and-concrete lab. But Marshall—famous for her pungent, all-natural ginger beer—is channeling the ambitious inventor in more ways than one.
Marshall is an innovator in the creation, carbonation and kegging of cocktails. She advised Linda Derschang on her recent rollout of kegged cocktails at Smith, King’s and Linda’s, and inspired Analog Coffee’s cold brew draft coffee. At Montana, the Capitol Hill dive bar she co-owns, she’s serving a concoction that stirs these elements together in a single glass: the Analog Cold Brew Cocktail, a spiced-rum and coffee cocktail served carbonated from a tap, was co-developed with Analog Coffee as well as Crumble and Flake’s Neil Robertson.
Marshall is a savvy entrepreneur, building a mini-empire through symbiotic collaboration. The dreadlocked 32-year-old Pullman native got her start vending at the Capitol Hill Farmers Market, where she scored berries, fruit and other produce that flavored her ginger beer. Back then she brewed Rachel’s Ginger Beer in restaurant kitchens around Seattle during off hours and waited tables at night.
That was just two and a half years ago. Now RGB is served in 40-some restaurants and bars across Seattle and is sold by Amazon Fresh. In March, Montana doubled in size and simultaneously leased the space next door to Kedai Makan, an Indonesian walk-up joint run by friends from the Capitol Hill Farmers Market who she met years ago while working in Garmisch, Germany. And Marshall will occupy one of the most high-profile locations at Pike Place—the former 30-year home of Seattle’s Best Coffee on Pine Street and Post Alley.
“We have to deal with the Historic Board because it’s a historic district,” she says on a recent Monday afternoon, light streaming through the empty space’s copious windows. “They’re holding my hand through the process, which is awesome, because it’s the most in-depth business plan I’ve ever written. Everything gets submitted, every menu item.”
RGB Market, which she expects to open in mid-July, has long been her dream, which is why she refrained from opening a ginger beer shop on Capitol Hill. “The Historic Board wants flagship stores in Pike Place,” she says.
She initially envisioned simply a family-friendly soda fountain, but the Market Board was intent on bringing in a bar to increase evening life in the Market at night. Thus Moscow Mules, made with local gin and, of course, RGB, will be on tap.
Marshall has already installed in a $65,000 juicer in the back of the space—a SUV-sized monstrosity capable of juicing 100 gallons an hour. (Production will quadruple from its current rate of 400 gallons of ginger beer per week.) RGB Market will source produce from Market vendors, serve five or six flavors of Rachel’s Ginger Beer and floats made with Cupcake Royale ice cream.
“Ten million people a year come through this market,” she says. “Unless you’re a complete dweeb, you should be able to do good business.”