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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Moxie Original Elixir

There are many avenues of Weird Soda research which intrepid investigators have been following. A lot of fruitful work has been done in carbonation intensification, including the possibility of bubble-based fusion*. Researchers looking into the conditions on Earth which led to the formation of self-replicating molecules have made great strides with Kombucha Wonder Drink. And, of course, the military's use of Biotta as a non-lethal (barely) weapon shows great potential. But the history of Weird Soda development--its origins, systematics, and evolution--holds probably the greatest promise for the advancement of Weird Soda Science.

In the beginning, it appears that all soda was Weird. Only later in its development did the non-Weird classes appear. The Galco's Institute of Weird Soda Science has found descendants of these early Weird Sodas which have shown little change; the coelacanths of the Weird Soda world. (There have even been exciting recent examples of retrograde evolution, such as Pepsi Throwback). My status as a preeminent scienttist of the Weird Soda community allowed me to procure one of these "living dinosaur" Weird Soda speciments from Galco's.
I plan to quaff it tonight.

So tonight we have a bottle of Moxie, surnamed the "Original Elixir". The bottle further claims that its heritage dates to 1884, which is pretty old for a Weird Soda. Whether its formula is truly unchanged in that time is not clear. (I am assuming that this bottle is not itself from 1884, as it would have been an example of remarkable prescience on the part of the bottler to print "Since 1884" on the bottle. Even more so for them to have predicted the existence of a CA CRV.)

Moxie's label is quite distinctive; it suggests that one "Drink It for Vim and Vigor!", and even provides a short abstract:

"Originally known as Moxie Nerve Food, legend says it was an aid to digestion, a cure-all for nervousness, insomnia, and exhaustion"

A cure for both insomnia and exhaustion? This is some impressive stuff. Let's check the ingredients.
OK, I can see how the caffeine and sugar would help with the exhaustion part, but insomnia? Maybe that's the gentian root extract.

And wait, there's one more thing I have to do.
*hands the bottle to the Kibbitzer-in-Chief*
Hey, the kid's got Moxie!

Where and when: purchased April 2009 at Galco's, Los Angeles
Color: dark brown, just a hint of purple.
Scent: sweet cola, but with a strong herbal note. Maybe licorice? Smells a bit like Dandelion and Burdock soda.
Taste: Whoa. WHOA. What the heck? Is that cough syrup?
OK, here goes. The initial taste is quite sweet, vaguely cola-ish, but sweeter. Right behind that is a secondary sweet taste, with a strong chalky component, and a bit of mint. That part is odd--it reminds me vaguely of the tooth-polishing compound you get at the dentist, or quick-dissolve allergy medicine.
But then it hits you. Right behind that--no more than a second behind--a bitter herbal taste surges up. It's not strong, the sweet is stronger, but it's quite distinct. It's similar to the bitterness of the Abbondio Chinotto, but weaker and with less citrus and coffee.
K-i-C: "It's the gentian root. That's why it tastes like it's good for your stomach."

As it sits in the mouth, the bitter and sweet circle each other, warily, like two jackals wanting the same piece of carrion. Their eyes never leave each other, watchful for a sign of weakness, of hesitation. There's no room for timidity.
And then a slight acidity rises from below, permeating the scene like fog, drifting between and around the combatants.
The aftertaste lingers, but it doesn't undergo any big changes. Those jackals are still circling in the fog, a minute or two later.

It's interesting, but I can't really say I like it. The bitter herbal flavor is pretty weird. I suppose it might be an acquired taste; I haven't acquired it yet.

Quaff rating: 2.5. Most of the flavor is pleasant. Most of it.
Cough rating: 2. I have to give it at least two, because I actually coughed after my first sip.


  1. I just drank and reviewed this soda for the first time myself. I loved it, but I sought out your opinion on it and already predicted it would be an acquired taste...I'm pleased that you agreed with me two years before I discovered a bottle in the wild.

  2. It's pretty potent stuff. Oddly, the Kibbitzer-in-Chief likes it more than many other sodas. I can never predict her preferences.

  3. I'm one who would bring back a few cases home every trip from the east coast and amaze (or appal) friends. Gentian root is component of bitters in drink mixology- if you have ever had a "old fashioned" or have a chance to taste the cheap mixer, you can imagine the flavor. (minus the alcohol, of course) Maybe that's why it was popular soda in the old days...

  4. I have recently come to have a fondness for this beverage, no doubt in small part because I can remember my grandmother drinking it when I was a child. As a child, I found it repulsive. As an adult, my horizons are broader, my tastes are more refined, and not everything needs to be strawberry pink flavored. I taste definite comparisons to sarsaparilla.

    All that said, it is vastly improved by pouring it over ice and drinking it cold and slightly diluted.

  5. Must say I've never had anything like Moxie before--the official state drink of Maine. There's something "antiquey" about the taste, and the bitter aftertaste is indeed a *huge* surprise. The Quaffmaster outdid himself here.

  6. My curiosity on what Moxie is all about brought me here to your site. Based on this article alone, I'm definitely reading more of your stuff. 10/10 As for whether I'm picking a bottle of this stuff up? Well, I have to try it at least once. The weirdness factor sounds amazing.

  7. I got my first bottle of Moxie at Galco's two years ago and now I'm addicted to it. You can't buy it in Washington so I have it shipped in from Massachusetts. Served from the fridge and over ice? That first swallow is fantastic. I make my supply last by having it every other day or third day.

  8. I bought my first two bottles of Moxie at a Local Cracker Barrel restaurant. A group of us (7)sampled it at our company Christmas party last weekend. three hated it and four liked it. I loved it and will buy more. Probably through the Moxie website. Cracker Barrel gets $2.00 a bottle.

    1. The Phoenix Cracker Barrel stores carry it for $1.40 a bottle. And if you purchase a whole case of 24 bottles you receive a case discount of $6.41. This brings it down to about $1.13 a bottle. (These are 12oz. bottles)

  9. As a New Englander(NH specifically), I drink Moxie all the time. When I First tried it, I thought it tasted like diesel (don't ask), my Dad thought it was hilarious and had to finish my bottle (I choked down less than half). But as time went on, it started to grow on me (...Like Fungus!).

    This is not a drink you can "one and done". you have to build up a pallet, like with Wine or Whiskey.

  10. Born n raised in New Hampshire, I've always loved it. It is the oldest soda in the US. Now, when I was a kid , the holy grail was a Dr Pepper. It wasn't sold East of the Mississippi back then.

    1. My first bottle of Moxie was bought in NH back in 2011, I'd say, while driving out to Mt. Washington.

      First sip had me wondering if my drink was outdated. Looked for the date and it was still good. I was warned that it was 'different' by a buddy of mine who grew up in Maine. 2nd sip was easier on the palate and I guessed that it had some kind of licorice flavoring to it. 3rd sip until the end of the bottle was very enjoyable. It's as though Moxie was able to flip a switch deep within my neural pathways to reinforce and reward my choice that day. I love the stuff and make special trips down to Vermont, which is the closest place that I can get my hands on some Moxie.

      As long as a Moxie is available to me, I don't drink anything else.

      Nothing like the taste of that Gentian root, I tell ya!

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  12. upon drinking this the first thought i had was “yeah this tastes like old” like how you would expect your grandma’s bedroom to taste like


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