Thursday, January 27, 2022

‘21st century coffee but refreshing’: Drinx focuses on plant-based energy drinks, healthy grab-and-go items

Drinx will open Tuesday, Jan. 4 in The Cargo District, located in the alleyway between Half United and Queen Street Barbershop. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

WILMINGTON — When April and Joey Walker lost their jobs with BB&T due to its merger with Truist in 2020, they decided rather than go back to work for someone else in a corporate environment, they would become their own bosses. April operated a dog-sitting and -walking business for a short while, but when a newfound love for finding the tastiest caffeinated drinks left her palate with something more to be desired, she said it sparked a business venture she convinced Joey to journey on with her.

“He’s been so supportive of all my ideas,” she said.

On Jan. 4, the two officially will open Drinx in The Cargo District at 1605 Queen St., Suite 10. Their first foray into the restaurant industry, Drinx will serve plant-based, caffeinated energy drinks, along with açaí bowls and a few healthy grab-and-go items. Tucked away in a 300-square-foot space, the cafe is located in an alleyway between Queen Street Barbershop and Half United. 

“It’s like 21st century coffee but refreshing,” April explained. “You still get the caffeine, energy and kick from it without the jitters and the crash.”

Lotus energy drinks are made from plant-based extracts, such as cascara (the coffee cherry before it’s processed), lotus flower, schisandra berry, rhodiola, and superfruits. The drinks are served over ice, caffeinated from green coffee beans and sweetened with pure cane sugar — “which our bodies process more naturally,” April said.

The lotus concentrate comes in four “undertones” (flavors): red is tart cherry (“it’s the closest flavor to Red Bull,” Walker said), blue is blueberry and açaí, pink is tart cherry and raspberry, purple is elderberry and blackberry, and the purest form, white, has no undertones or flavor yet offers the same benefits. 

“Lotus flower is a powerful antioxidant with B vitamins,” April said. “It has a component where it relieves stress and elevates your mood.”

It also helps with clarity.

“So, if you walk into a room, and you’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh — what did I go into this room for?’ Well, that’s your mental fatigue, and the lotus extracts can keep you more alert,” she said. 

The drinks are essentially Italian ices, mixed with the lotus energy concentrate, Torani flavored syrup, and flat or soda water. They come on the rocks or frozen like a frappe. April said they are still deciding on which ice to use —  currently, it’s cubed but she is considering “ice nuggets.”

Drinx will have a set menu, priced $5 and up, featuring a dozen or so specialties, such as Seabreeze, flavored with blue lotus, blue curaçao and wild berries, or the Pink Dragonfruit, consisting of pink lotus and dragon fruit syrup.

“We’ve got a new one called ‘Autumn Breeze,’” April said. “And the way my husband describes it, he says it’s like sitting in the mountains in the crisp autumn air, seeing the leaves changing — if you can just capture that in a drink.”

The drinks are gluten-free, vegan and made without genetically modified organisms. Each can be “elevated” by adding lotus super cream — offered in regular or vegan-based oat — to make them silky. Fruit fusions, such as strawberry cheesecake, can be added, too, and there is an option to “power up” with a plant-based caffeinated booster, for an extra 50 cents.

“My hairdresser needs the super pump to get her through the day,” April quipped.  

The Honeybee Lotus will feature honey that the Walkers plan on harvesting from their own hives come spring. For now, Drinx uses Seaside Honeybee, also offered as a topping on Drinx’s açaí bowls. The bowls are made on site, with açaí mixture dispersed through a soft-serve machine, to be topped with granola, peanut butter, coconut flakes, fruit, and even bee pollen.

Aside from açaí bowls and energy drinks, the cafe will be working with local food vendors to provide grab-and-go salads, wraps, veggie, fruit and charcuterie cups, and other options that can be served in a bowl.

“We did a soft opening about two weeks ago because there were holiday markets in The Cargo District, and we wanted to get our name out there and get samples to people to find out what they liked,” April said. “The response has been great.”

This week the Walkers are finalizing the menu, portion sizes, and installing equipment ahead of their Tuesday launch. Drinx will open six days a week — closed Monday — 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during weekdays, with extended weekend hours. 


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Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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