Jo Snow Syrups: Adding a Little Fun to Your Coffees, Cocktails, Sodas & Snow Cones

VideoBy Liza de Guia on Jan 5, 2012
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“I thought it would be all the kids that would be loving it, but it was the adults! It was the adults who kept coming.”

Meet Melissa Yen, who just so happens to answer to the name: Jo Snow. Melissa is the founder and senior syrup slinger behind Jo Snow Syrups, a small-batch, artisan syrup company based in Chicago, IL.

Melissa is a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur. All her life she’s started and stopped businesses with none ever really clicking until now. For her, Jo Snow Syrups is the first business she’s ever technically mastered. She makes syrups for a living. That’s her job – boiling and bottling up to 500 syrup bottles a week. She’s good at it. Really good at it – which is great because she’s always, always, ALWAYS wanted to own a food brand.

I found Melissa through a little investigating before my Chicago trip a few weeks back. I put out a few feelers to food folks I knew who lived in the area, letting them know I was spending an extra day during my travels to, hopefully, film a story. I got a lot of good responses, lots of interesting artisans were thrown my way. But, time after time, Jo Snow Syrups just kept coming up in conversation. And when a name gets mentioned that much, my general feeling is, the product has to be pretty damn good. So, I took a leap of faith and booked my story, blindly, without ever tasting it.

Well, who exactly knows how serendipity works, but Melissa ended up being that perfect kind of artisan I love to film: passionate, creative, fun, and full of life and energy. An artisan who truly loves what they do. An artisan who makes a product I’m excited to talk about. These syrups are incredible. The flavors are thought-provoking and interesting on the palate. They wake your senses, and make coffees and cocktails and sodas way more fun than you think they would.

So, go ahead, try it. I just dare you to have some fun!!

Jo Snow Syrups Current List of Flavors:

  • Soda Pop Flavors: Cola #6, Sass! Root Beer, Kickin’ Cream Soda
  • Coffee Flavors: Cafe de Olla, Fig Vanilla Black Pepper, Cardamom Rose Water (my favorite)
  • Fruity Flavors: Hibiscus Basil Orange Blossom, Ginger Passion Fruit, Tangerine Lavender Honey

Thanks so much for watching food. curated. I truly appreciate all the support and notes of encouragement while I took a little time off of storytelling these past few months. But now, I’m back. And I’m ready for a whole new season of storytelling. So stay tuned because I’ve got so many fun things to show you in 2012… Happy Drinking!



  1. molly yeh says:

    yeaahhhh jo snow!! fig vanilla black pepper, I LOVE YOU!

  2. Gina Zammit says:

    Good to have you back, Liza! Happy New Year!

  3. Shell says:

    Love her energy..that alone makes me want to try one of her syrups. Glad your back, Liza..I look forward to more food stories.

  4. Tess Wysocki says:

    Great video and even greater syrups! Yummmm yummmmm yummmmmmm is all I can say.

  5. Todd Freeman says:

    This is great!! Way to go Melissa; we have been flying through the fig vanilla black pepper and the cardamom rosewater at Rigsby’s. Cheers!!!

    • Melissa says:

      Excellent Todd! So glad you guys are mixing up some Jo Snow cocktails in Dayton. Rigsby’s makes an amazing martini with the cardamom rose water syrup, Ketel 1 vodka, Pama liquor, topped with prosecco. That’s reason enough for a road trip to Dayton for me!

  6. Stacey Dyer says:

    Great video! You really captured the spirit of a wonderfully creative, passionate soul & the awesomely tasty product that she creates. I love Jo Snow Syrups – YUM!

  7. Liza,

    What a wonderful video on Jo Snow Syrups. You really captured the essence of this artisan. I watched it twice in a row!

    Bravo. Keep curious!

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Debbie, you’re the best Thanks for stopping by. I hope you try Melissa’s syrups. Get at lease one for coffee and one for soda/cocktails from her website.

  8. Monica says:

    Beautiful as usual, Liza! Love her and the story – thank you for sharing.

  9. Melissa says:

    I tear up every time I watch Liza’s amazing video on Jo Snow. She really captured the essence of me & my product. She put me so at ease when I met her, that I couldn’t help but be myself & trust her & her storytelling/video skills. I am so happy with the way the video turned out & so excited to be able to share a part of me & my company with other food passionate people. Thanks everyone for your support. I really appreciate it! Cheers!

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Melissa – you are deserving of any and all good things that come your way for Jo Snow. I hope more artisans like you help people connect to good food and flavors/ingredients we haven’t tried before. You make me love what I do BTW. People with passion and joy for their products bring so much fun and life to film making. Thanks again so much for letting me into your world. It was a gift and a pleasure. xoxo, Liza

  10. Mimi says:

    Thank you for spotlighting Ms. Melissa Yen and Jo Snow! This video captured her energy, passion and infectious enthusiasm. Jo Snow syrups rock and it’s obvious from your fab video that you think so too! Jo Snow is a staple in our house!

  11. Fabulous! A great personal story and an infectious laugh. Nice to see an entrepreneurial success story for a change. Wishing Jo Snow all the best!!!

  12. Bridget says:

    Fruity JoSnow for my champagne cocktail. Cardamom Rosewater JoSnow in my latte. Rootbeer JoSnow with my cheeseburger. What will Melissa think of next?!?!!!! I can’t wait to see!

  13. Laura says:

    I’ve been a fan of Mellissa’s cooking for years and still miss her breakfast panini.

    These syrups make great hostess gifts. During the holidays, I brought them to various parties and they inevitably were served immediately. Such fun and so delish….

  14. I’m not sure I know of any other artisanal syrup makers, this is cool! I love her flavor combos. Oh the cocktails I could create. Thanks for showcasing this very cool woman.

  15. Damien says:

    We love to see Melissa and Jo Snow making it to the big time! Can’t wait for Baconfest Chicago this year for another round of Jo Snow and Santome Prosecco cocktails… We couldn’t make ’em fast enough last time.

    Great work on the video as well. Love the relaxed feel.

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Glad you liked the video Damien. I appreciate you taking the time to watch! Love to get the Jo Snow Prosecco cocktail recipe. That sounds quite refreshing.

  16. searah says:

    I am such a big fan of Jo Snow that I worked with Melissa to create a special customized flavor just for my little sex shop. We got rave reviews for the Love Potion no 14 that we sold last year around Valentine’s Day and we plow though bottles of her syrups at home as well. Fig in my Old Fashioneds. Woodruff Italian sodas……


  17. Jason Lerner says:

    We love Melissa and JoSnow syrups at Masa Azul! Our Bev Director Jenny Kessler has created several world class cocktails using Melissa’s amazing products!!

  18. Richard says:

    Melissa, I teared right up with you! Your passion and effervescence for your product just jump out of the video from start to finish. And those flavors…wow! I drizzzzzle ’em where I can!! Can’t wait to try out a good old Berliner Weisse with a spritz! What is coming next?????

  19. Nicole says:

    Love this! Melissa is the real deal & so are her syrups. She has such a knack (and love!) for creating unique flavor combinations – the likes of which I don’t see anywhere else. Cardamom Rosewater & Cafe de Olla are staples in my kitchen, and it’s so fun to chat up Provenance customers & find out how they like to use their favorite Jo Snow Syrup. Go Jo Snow!!

  20. Nancy McClelland says:

    So pleased to see this wonderful independen­tly-owned business making such gorgeous, small-batc­h, high-quali­ty products get the attention it deserves. Melissa Yen and Jo Snow make the best syrups available today — we love them so much we even gave them away as party favors to our friends. Such exciting and interestin­g flavors, and it feels great knowing they are all-natura­l. Try them in your tea, coffee, sodas, cocktails and snow cones. Yum!

  21. Puffs of Doom LOVES Jo Snow Syrup and Melissa. She and her syrups have inspired many cream puff flavor collaborations. After meeting Melissa and trying Jo Snow syrups we immediately went out and purchased a soda stream so we could enjoy homemade delicious Jo Snow syrup sodas and we have not looked back since!

  22. Johanna says:

    Great video! We love and adore Melissa Yen and her syrups. How can you not? They are a staple in our home and a go to gift for everyone. Melissa’s warmth and energy are contagious and we are looking forward to more creative and delicious flavor combinations in the future.

  23. rachel post says:

    I have to say I’ve never had a snow cone from Jo Snow that I didn’t like… (and by ‘a snow cone’ I really mean closer to ‘a bunch’) I fell in love with Melissa’s syrup concoctions back in Vella Cafe days with the Cafe de Olla, and Cardamom Rose lattes she would whip up, and now am glad to say that thanks to her syrup in my fridge I can create my own at home! Thanks Melissa!

  24. Wendy says:

    I loved this almost as much as I love Melissa!! It was fascinating getting an ‘inside peek’ at how the syrups are made. The syrups are as unique as Melissa is herself – Fun, friendly and sweet!! I’m looking forward to watching as the market for Jo Snow expands. You GO girl!!

  25. Katherine says:

    Melissa’s syrups are super cool – and very unique, it’s not exactly a saturated market out there with the artisan syrups! We designed a caramel around her Cafe de Olla syrup – Orange Cinnamon – and it was a huge hit for the holidays. Thanks so much for writing about this awesome lady.

    • Liza de Guia says:

      You’re welcome Katherine. It was such a pleasure to film with her. Melissa has one of those personalities that I love. And her laugh is so genuine. I love that she can just laugh at herself and have fun all the time.

  26. Mark McClelland says:

    I’ve been making my own syrups for years, primarily for cocktails, and I can’t say enough good about Jo Snow. Melissa has a real gift for great flavor combinations, and I love her dedication to quality ingredients.

    Here’s a cocktail recipe that’s a current favorite, and is very suitable to experimentation with other syrups:

    — Hibiscus Fizz, serves 2 —
    3 oz London Dry gin
    1 oz vodka
    1 oz Jo Snow hibiscus-basil-orange-blossom syrup
    juice of 1/2 lemon
    white of 1 egg
    1/2 tsp sugar (helps make the egg white foam)

    Shake very well, strain into tall fizz glasses, add ice. Top off with soda water or ginger ale and gently stir. You can also skip the soda or ginger ale and strain directly into a martini glass. You can halve the recipe, but make sure to reduce the egg white along with everything else.

  27. Lisa B says:

    My love for Melissa’s syrups began with cardamom rose lattes in my old neighborhood (before her bottles had the fancy and adorable labels), and lives on with special and magnificent drinks at my favorite local restaurants,

    Magic in a bottle, yes, indeed! There is nothing more refreshing than a hibiscus basil orange blossom Italian soda made in the comfort of my own home!!!!! So fun to to see the love, care, expertise, great fun, AND PASSION that goes into every bottle!

    You make the world tastier and more colorful, Melissa!

  28. Andrea says:

    What an excellent profile of an excellent person! I thought this video was so thorough and so well done, and I learned a ton about the process and philosophy behind the syrups. Go Melissa! The syrups deserve to fly off the shelves, they’re filled with authenticity and goodness just like you!

  29. Susie says:

    Three cheers for goodness. What a treat. Melissa is a treasure. So passionate, real and fun. This profile captures Melissa brillance, vibrancy and love of clean, delectable food. Thank you Melissa for being the real deal in a highly processed world. Can’t wait to try your syrups.

  30. Colleen Harvey says:

    I found Melissa from a post last year on the food blog Lotti + Doof and have been a super fan ever since. Not only is she pretty much the coolest gal ever, her product is amazing! I have gotten my family & friends completely addicted to Jo Snow! If you come to my home, you are guaranteed to have a cocktail (or mocktail!) made with one of these amazing syrups. This video is an awesome look into my favorite find of the entire year!

  31. Landan Hoag says:

    Major thanks for the article.Really thank you! Really Cool.

  32. Laurent says:

    Liza was so fun to work with, Melissa and I had a great time that evening. We were making syrups, tasting and laughing the whole time. Thank you so much for a wonderful experience, Liza truly brought out the essence of Jo Snow. Great video, can’t wait to see more!!!

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Laurent! I was hoping you’d say a little thing or two. Thanks so much for letting me put you on camera. I had such a blast just hanging out and filming the whole process. You have so much to be proud of in that Syrup Slinger of yours!

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  37. Loving the syrups keep up the good work!

  38. Syrups are awesome by the way congrats !

  39. John says:

    I would have to say these are the best syrups that I have ever tasted to be honest

  40. Dave says:

    Have to say these syrups are up there with the very best I have ever tasted – also really enjoyed the video cool !!

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  42. Monica says:

    I really like the syrups.

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