Click here to send in your own Weird Soda Review!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Diet Dr. Pepper Vinaigrette

Here at the Lab, we* are sometimes seized by moments of what one might call psychotic inspiration. Tonight, an attack of such sodatori has led to what might be a discovery**.

I had just retrieved my emergency Diet Dr. Pepper from cold storage, and was headed down the corridor from the kitchen module to the media viewing module, when I passed the Kibbitzer-in-Chief comparing some sort of dark bottle with Neighsayer. This didn't strike me as particularly unusual, but then I happened to take a swig from my bottle while smelling what was in theirs.

I stopped dead in my tracks. As the volatile vapors of the Diet Dr. Pepper wafted through my nasal cavity, they joined with the heady aromas from the dark, mysterious bottle wielded by the Kibbitzer, launching a joint assault on my olfactory epithelium. Nerve signals were ricocheting around my brain, forming new connections and unearthing new possibilities.

"Where," I whispered, "did you put that balsamic vinegar?"

Perhaps it was the light of incipient discovery burning in my eyes. The K-i-C and Neighsayer simply indicated the cabinet in which they had sequestered the vinegar. I opened the cabinet, my mind a-bubble with inner visions.
Diet Dr. Pepper would go great with balsamic vinegar!

Truly, I can understand hearing a statement like that with some skepticism. If I hadn't had the combined smell experience, I wouldn't have thought of it. But what has been smelled...cannot be unsmelled. And now I had to know.

I poured about a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar into a cup, and filled it the rest of the way with Diet Dr. Pepper. There was a bit more foam than usual, but in the course of pursuing such a thing as a discovery, a Quaffmaster knows no fear. I took a sip.
I took another.
It wasn't wonderful...but it wasn't bad at all. And the longer it sat in my mouth, the more interesting it became. This had potential. This needed exploring.

"Okay, kids!" I shouted. "Who wants to try something new?"

Nazgul and Olorin, knowing who I am, were understandably somewhat reluctant to simply drink from a fizzing cup I offered, especially given that I wouldn't tell them what was in it (out of a desire for scientific rigor). However, they both agreed that it was actually pretty good. Even after I told them what it was.
The K-i-C and Neighsayer admitted (reluctantly) that it wasn't bad, and decided that I had effectively made a Dr. Pepper vinaigrette dressing. The Kibbitzer suggested that it might go well on sprouts, while Neighsayer demurred, but did feel that it would be better with regular Dr. Pepper.

As far as I'm concerned, these are questions of refinement. My job is simply to unearth the new--to expand the frontiers of Weirdness whenever possible. So let it be known that Diet Dr. Pepper and balsamic vinegar can combine into something new and unexpected and Weird.

The rest, I leave to you***.

*The rest of the Lab staff, out of concern for their reputations, insist that I clarify that here, by "we", I actually mean "I".

**The more usual result is either a trip to Urgent Care or a night spent on the couch.

***And here, by "you", I mean "you, the hypothetical person willing to try bizarre beverage combinations you read about on a blog written by a Lovecraft/soda/sci-fi geek."

Fujiya Sparkling Peach Nectar

Actually, based on the container, this should be "Nectar Sparkling Peach", but such pedantry shouldn't be applied to all containers, or we'd end up with some Weird everything.

Anyway, after a short break, the Lab is again diving into the world of Weird soda. We've still got plenty of stuff in storage, and I'm looking forward to bringing these beverages bubbling into the bleak gaze of a blistering, baleful (but hopefully never banal) daylight of full taste awareness.
God help us all.

I've also decided that we need to refocus our mission. While it's true that there are nearly infinite varieties of (for example) root beer, the fact that it's not A&W doesn't actually make it Weird. Thus, we're going to try to limit ourselves to things with at least some aspect of real strangeness. Except, maybe, on special occasions.

Today, we have a moderately unusual beverage to sample: Fujiya Sparkling Peach Nectar.

I suppose the juice pitcher and glasses in the background could be said to speak to the fruit-nature of the product. Or to my lack of ability to compose a photograph.

I'm particularly fond of Japanese Weird beverages, for several reasons:
1) They often have REALLY bizarre flavors, and
2) They often come in that charmingly shaped semi-conical metal can.

Peach isn't that Weird, although it's certainly not the most commonly encountered flavor on domestic soda shelves. Fresca makes a nice peach soda, although it's not a pure peach, more of a peach/citrus. I'm not sure which this is yet.

I can read Hiragana a tiny bit--enough to pronounce it badly. However, I don't have a hope of reading Kanji, so I really have no idea wht most of this bottle says. At the bottom of the front, it indicates that it is 15% something (or 15% of something, or is 15% of the way to becoming something, or possibly that it represents 15% of some Platonic ideal of something. Or maybe it's an unrelated comment about 15% of something else. "Fujiya Sparkling Peach Soda--15% of 45 is 6.75!")

It does, apparently, contain actual peach juice. That's probably good.

Where and when: Probably from Mitsuwa, probably sometime in the spring.
Color: Erk. Disturbingly cloudy, kind of a beige color. Not very transparent. Disturbing and unpleasant; reminiscent of things which come out of the body, rather than things which should go in. Tiny bits of floaty stuff. The foam is a bit persistent, as one sees sometimes when there's a bit of organic goo on the surface of a liquid.
Scent: This, on the other hand, is delightful. Smells like a ripe peach, or maybe a bit like canned peaches. A good smell in any case. Not cloying, has the actual depth of real peach.
K-i-C: "Smeels nice. Genuinely peachy."
Taste: Fortunately, the taste is much closer to the scent than to the appearance. Tastes a bit like the syrup from canned peaches, but carbonated to a pleasant degree.
K-i-C: "Kind of like peach beer."
Interesting. There's little of the beery bitterness, but the complex organic taste of the peach does give rise to that sense.

It's one of the most honest fruit sodas I think I've had--actual peach, rather than synthetic. Good, as long as you keep your eyes closed.

Between this and Gokuri's Miracle of Grapefruit, I'm developing some real esteem for Asian fruit sodas.

There is a bit of filmy aftertaste--probably the same actual fruit content as made the foam a bit disturbing.

Quaff rating: 4.0. Excellent taste. Very drinkable.
Cough rating: 1.0. Between the appearance and slight gooiness, a bit aversive.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Now on Google Plus!

You can find us on Google Plus now!

Go here: WSR on Google+ and add us to your circles. We'll be watching!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Virgil's Zero Cream Soda

One of the perils of being a professional consumer of concentrated sugar solutions is the resultant weight gain. Soda has a lot of calories, and as I have explained to my physiology students, your body is a magnificent engine of nanotechnological transformation. You have biochemical mechanisms evolved, via millions and millions of years of life-and-death struggle, to be able to store excess food energy (should you be lucky enough to get any) for future use. It matters little whether that excess energy comes in the form of carbohydrates, proteins, or lipids--your breathtakingly awesome biochemistry can convert extras into a dense energy storage form like triglycerides.
And then pack them into a nice toroidal shape around my midsection, which causes my pants to fall off.

Our modern society (at least for those of us with the incredible good fortune to live in a society with access to nice resources and reasonably stable government) makes food energy available in quantities which our ancient ancestors couldn't even imagine. However, our biochemistry is still adapted to an environment where access to extra calories meant we could store up enough fat to survive winters, famnines, and unsuccessful hunts. As a consequence, our bodies assure us that eating three Ultimate Cheeseburgers is, in fact, an excellent survival strategy, and we should hurry up and do it before someone else gets them!

We are now faced with a dilemma which undoubtedly makes those ancient ancestors more than a little confused--how can we make tasty food which we like to eat, yet has no food energy value at all?

This long path has led me to today's review: Virgil's Zero Cream Soda, which is sweetened with Stevia.

The power drill is there because somehow, drinking a diet soda makes me feel the need to reaffirm my manliness. Which, of course, relies on power tools.

Virgil's regular cream soda is one of the best sodas I've ever had, a magnificent achievement of balance and subtlety. I've also developed a soft spot for stevia as a sweetener--it does have an odd aftertaste, but with the right stuff to balance it out, it can be good.
I've also learned that powdered stevia is much, much sweeter than sugar, in a lesson which involved me trying to make some mildly sweet peppermint tea and ended up with a concentrated liquid York peppermint pattie.
In any case, I am very curious to find out if the good folks who make Virgil's can manage to make something with stevia which doesn't besmirch their reputation.

Where and when: Donated to the Lab by Cilious, September 2011.
Color: Darkish amber, transparent. Kind of pretty.
Scent: Interesting. A strong vanilla scent, more in the sweet vanilla than bourbon vanilla style. Interesting undertones of caramel and, oddly, something that makes me think of sandalwood. There's a faint aftersmell which is reminiscent of the slight bitterness of stevia, but it's very, very faint. The caramel is much stronger.
Nazgul: "Cream. Vanilla creamy."
K-i-C: "Smells like vanilla bubble gum."
Taste: Oddly, the vanilla is much weaker in the taste than the smell. The initial taste is sharper than I expected, but still pleasant--not biting. There is vanilla, and that interesting caramel flavor.
Unfortunately, the stevia is strong with this one. It rides just under those tastes, and like the crest of a wave breaking through the smooth swell, bursts out a few seconds into the mouth. It carries with it the nice parts of stevia (sweet, just the teensiest bit tangy) and the less lovely parts (a fairly powerful bitter/acrid). That makes it sound worse than it is--it's really not unpleasant, quite the opposite. However, I can't ignore the stevia here, like I have been able to do with the less-sophisticated but still good Zevia sodas.

Nazgul: "Hmm! That's good. But strong. But strong in a good way."

It's nice, but it doesn't rise to the same level as its cane sugar cousin.
It's smooth, pleasant, and has an interesting blend of flavors. Taking it on its own, without comparison to regular Virgil's, it would be a good cream soda of the sweet/French vanilla variety, with an odd and slightly unpleasant herbal aftertaste.

On the other hand, it's worlds better than Diet Coke. As diet sodas go, one of the best I've had. Our ancient ancestors would undoubtedly have rejoiced to have it, until they realized it could do them no good and decided instead to burn it as an offering to Crom.

Quaff rating: 3.5. Pleasant vanilla and caramel flavors.
Cough rating: 1.0. Unpleasant stevia aftertaste.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

WSR's contribution to understanding human nature and the Internet

Writing this blog has been a wonderful adventure for me, and (hopefully) for the rest of the Lab staff. We have discovered new heights and depths in the Weird soda world, and made contact with a variety of interesting people.

I will also admit that another interesting aspect has been poring over the web statistics which keep track of our visitors. I like getting to see where our readers are visiting from around the world, and what sorts of things bring them here.

It was in such a contemplation that I made this great discovery: people mostly come to our site because they are interested in sex.

"But, Quaffmaster..." you may cry out, "...your site contains very little sex! Believe me, I've looked, and nary a titillating phrase nor suggestive image have I found!"

It's true, the Lab has avoided putting any significant amount of racy content in this chronicle of our explorations. And still, I maintain that people come to our site for sex.

How do I know this? 20% of recent visits to the site came from one of these four Google searches:

neurogasm review
what does neurogasm do to you
does neurogasm work?

On the list of "Entry Pages", the review of neurogasm has had 27 hits. The next most common entry page is Visvita Aloe Vera juice...with four.

The Neurogasm review is nearly five times as popular as the main page of the blog, in terms of total visits.

Somehow, I doubt it's because the review has gained renown as a magnificent example of the fine art of beverage analysis.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guest Review: Country Club Merengue Soda

One of our non-hypothetical readers (The Doc, who previously reviewed Inca Cola for us) has submitted a guest review of what sounds like a fascinating offering popular in the Dominican Republic. He seems quite taken with it, although not without any reservations. In addition, he has included input from The Doc Sr. and his wife (who we will refer to, in as confusing a mishmash of articles, honorifics, and suffixes* as possible) as "Mrs. The Doc Sr."

I'm especially fond of his reference to this as a "beverage d'hubris". Thanks so much for the guest review, The Doc!


Living as I do near a golf course, I find it highly appropriate to drink
Country Club soda as it neatly befits my pretentious lifestyle, because I
really am that great. And it befits it further because this flavour of
Country Club soda, at least, is as pretentious as I am. Not merely content
to call itself a cream soda as significantly more humble beverage brands
would do, it calls itself a MERENGUE soda. Because, at its home in the
Dominican Republic, as the natural beverage of the country (pretentious),
it would not do to simply be a cream soda and roll about in the carbonated
muck with those other inferior, hoi-polloi, beverages.

The history is a little weird, which works as well. Apocryphally there was
a Country Club Soda Company during the first half or so of the 20th century
primarily in Massachusetts (pretentious also). Around 1985 Seven-Up bought
them out and the brand faded in America. However, Country Club is sold by the
cartload in the Dominican Republic and pretty much anywhere they live,
including many specialty shops (pretentious encore) in the USA. The Country
Club you will get the USA comes in the classic (pretentious times infinity)
glass bottle that you need a bottle opener for (I'm too pretentious for
this shirt), but is sold in regular plastic bottles in its home country (not
pretentious) and now is a mark of the Coca-Cola Company (extreme megaloss of

Where and when: I've been enjoying this beverage d'hubris for a good two
months now, but I requested additional snooty opinions earlier this month
and brought samples to The Doc, Sr., and The Doc, Sr.'s Wife. The bottles in
question were purchased from BevMo (pretentiousness under review).

Color: A rich, golden amber draught, in a bottle that looks like it travelled
forward in time from 1955 with Marty McFly and a DeLorean, if he were
actually Marco McFeli and the DeLorean was really a Chevrolet truck with a
ridiculous big rusted chrome bumper and solid axles.

Smell: Fruity, but not strong, and I really don't have a joke about
pretentiousness to go with that except if this were the national beverage
of West Hollywood.

Taste: There is a common thread with Caribbean/meso-American beverages that
they want them to have a bit of a kick. Despite the pretension, it's a rough
merengue and it's strong. However, there's only a minimal amount of aftertaste
and the cream flavour is really rich with a superb vanilla base layered on
top with a selection of mild and delightfully intermingling fruit notes.
It is, truly, like eating a merengue pie, except this enables you to belch
in a much more satisfying manner afterwards (whereupon I was given a
disapproving look from The Doc Sr's Wife). Doc Sr. agreed that it was a very
nice cream soda and rated it favourably compared to more mass market brands.
Doc Sr.'s Wife had a few sips and said it was nice, and also that I should say
excuse me after I burp. This is high praise.

Quaff rating: 4.5. Dad's is probably the smoothest cream soda I can think of
(particularly the Red Cream Soda), and this is not nearly that smooth. That
said, it is much more luxurious and complex-flavoured than Dad's, let alone
many other simplistic and, yes, less-pretentious beverages. This beverage has
its beautiful Dominican nose in the air from the beginning, and yet, it really
does deserve the name "merengue."

Cough rating
: Let's say 1.5. The kickback is there, but not nearly enough to
merit a full two. However, don't belch in front of your mother like I did.
Coughing may be more polite in the long run. Not to mention pretentious.

I wonder if the other flavours are this egotistical.


*Shouldn't the plural of "suffix" be "suffices"? More than one matrix or dominatrix are, respectively, "matrices" and "dominatrices"...maybe it's the "-trix" which pluralizes to "-trices"...

Timpo! Ultimate High-Grade Time Travel Fuel

The Lab moved to north San Diego county in 2006. Prior to that, we lived in Los Angeles for ten years, while I was in graduate school. When we came here, and people asked where we were from, the conversation almost invariably went something like this:

Other Person: "Where did you live before this?"
Me: "We lived in Los Angeles for about ten years."
Other Person: "Oh, you must feel so happy to have escaped!"

There is a powerful assumption in this area that people would only live in LA under severe duress or as a hostage. Los Angeles is seen as some sort of alternate hell-dimension, 75 miles north, which any sane person would go to great lengths to avoid.

When I would respond with something along the lines of "Actually, we enjoyed it a lot", I could see the other person's amygdalae light up all the way down in the temporal lobe. I had become the Other, a slavering beast who must be watched carefully, lest my contagion be spread by bite or claw. In a few sympathetic cases, I think I was regarded as suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. So let me get this right out here:
I loved LA. I loved the incredible diversity of people and cultures. I loved the museums, symphonies, and operas. I loved the fact that you could hear five languages by walking five miles, and get any kind of food you could image by driving twenty minutes. Are there bad things about LA? Of course. Nobody likes traffic like that, the air isn't so hot, and inland it can get pretty miserable in the summer. No question, there are problems, but it's a wonderful place.

I like north county San Diego too! We can afford a house and yard here, and we can grow an enormous variety of fruits and vegetables all year round. When my relatives from Kansas visit, they are always jealous of the fact that "growing season" around here is effectively January to December. There's a lot of green space here, and most of the parking is free.

But we love LA too.

In fact, the other day the Lab staff took a trip up to the Echo Park area of LA, as Olorin was attending a writing workshop. And, as it turns out, this workshop was hosted by a rather remarkable organization called 826LA, who have taken the concept of Weirdness to new heights. For example, the workshop was hosted at their location...which is a market selling supplies for time travelers.

This is very promising for one such as I.

Seeing this, I reached the conclusion that Weirdness--maybe even in soda form--could be had within. Upon entering, I found that they sold a variety of useful items for the time traveller, such as Caveman Stationery (cement blocks), anti-evil-robot weaponry (magnets for erasing hard drives), and barbarian repellent (a spray listing ingredients such as "culture", "ballet", and "deodorant"). My Quaffmastery inclinations were thrilled to see a slurpee machine, but alas, it was out of order.

All was not lost, however. In a cooler at the back, I did find what I believe to be a Weird soda. At least, I think it's a soda. It's definitely Weird.

I handed over my money (I wonder if they would accept currency from other time periods?) and became the proud owner of a three-liter bottle of "Timpo! Ultimate High-Grade Time Travel Fuel".

Really, I have no choice but to buy this. None.

Now, you can probably see why I could not possibly pass this up. Here I had an opportunity to quaff a soda which might not even, technically speaking, exist at the time I was quaffing it, as it had not yet been invented! Such things do not happen every day. My geek mind gleefully dove into the array of possibilities as if it were a playground ball pit in which the balls were, in fact, round Cheetos. I had images of sharing a glass of Timpo! with Marty McFly under the sheltering arch of the Guardian of Forever.
On the other hand, there was nothing on this bottle which conformed that it was actually soda, or any other sort of drinkable liquid. It could be antifreeze, for all I knew. No ingredients list was provided; instead, there was a blurb which read:

Face it: Running out of time machine fuel is the worst. Not only does it make you late, but it also leaves you even more vulnerable to sudden dinosaur attacks.

The cap does say "Shasta", though, so I'm hpoing for the best. Or at least not to die.

Where and when: Purchased September 2011 at the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, 1714 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, CA.
Color: Yellow-green, almost exactly the same shade as Mountain Dew. Scent: Very sweet, almost candy-ish. A bit like cotton candy. Almost no citrus or tang in the smell.
Taste: Very, very sweet. Like the smell, just a hint of candyish lime, but not sour at all. More like lime jelly candy. Almost no carbonation, just a hint of bubble bite.
The sweet is nearly overwhelming. Apparently, hummingbirds are time travelers.
Aftertaste is not especially pleasant--the sweet/lime is persistent, but a vaguely oily feeling creeps up from the back of the mouth about fifteen seconds in. It carries just a hint of something bitter. I'm not sure why, but I want to call the taste "nostalgic". Perhaps it's the temporal dislocation. The feeling is worse than the taste.

Honestly, I can't say that I'd recommend this as a soda. It's lacking in character and subtlety; there's nothing very distinctive about it. It's just a very sweet, vaguely lime-y, slightly carbonated liquid. On the other hand, it's time machine fuel, which increases its awesomeness factor as an object d'art. This is best enjoyed as a conversation piece; once it's opened and decanted, it loses what makes it special.

I do recommend a trip to the Time Travel Mart on its own merits. Plus, they do good writing tutoring.

Aftertaste update: a few minutes later, the oily feeling is still there, only now it tastes worse. Blech.

Quaff rating: 1.5. Not very pleasant.
Cough rating: 1.5. The aftertaste and texture is icky.
Special Weirdness bonus (not factored into the Index): 1.0. It's time machine fuel.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chai Cola

The arrival of autumn is a joyous time for me. As a young Quaffmaster, I lived in Topeka, Kansas. Now, for many people, the words "Topeka" and "Kansas" elicit mental imagery of Dorothy, tornadoes, and endlessly flat grasslands. I will admit that Kansas does contain more than its fair share of the latter two, although the beauty of the plains is underrated. However, for me, Kansas is associated with many other things, such as chicken-fried steak*. But that's just one of its many appealing aspects.

Another is weather.

Now, you may respond to that by saying "Quaffmaster, to mention tornadoes in one sentence and then to imply that Kansas has good weather seem somewhat inconsistent." I understand the objection, but please allow me to raise one point of contention: I did not say that Kansas has good weather. In fact, much of Kansas's weather is of the unpleasant or destructive variety. That being said, though, it is undeniable that Kansas does have weather. As opposed to some other locations, such as Southern California.

SoCal does get warmer and cooler, and it usually doesn't rain in the summer (although to a Kansan, the gentle drifting down of water droplets here wouldn't really qualify as "rain"). We here in semi-coastal SoCal are, indeed, blessed with a remarkably pleasant climate the vast majority of the time, ranging between "cool enough that I might wear a long-sleeved shirt" to "hot enough that I might, if pressed, perspire". It's one of the reasons that many people like to live here. It does have the drawback, though, that the turning of the seasons is something which you can fail to notice if you're not paying close attention.

The advent of autumn in Kansas produces a spectacular show of color as the trees shed that summer chlorophyll for the racier pigments underneath. One morning, you wake up, and the air has suddenly gained an unmistakable crispness. The sky turns a deeper shade of blue, somehow, and suddenly you bust out the sweaters and turtlenecks. At night, you're no longer lying on top of the bedsheets, with your naked body pressed against the screen window in a vain attempt to allow a breeze to strip the centimeter-thick layer of sweat from your skin; suddenly, it's time to put on the jammies and snuggle in a bed against that just-right bite in the evening air. It was always my favorite season, as a child. It still is, even though now it manifests for me as an almost imperceptibly lower angle of sunlight and more students pestering me in office hours.

Today's Weird Soda review is inspired by the coming of autumn.

I am a soda quaffer, and tea has never been a favorite of mine. I like my drinks cold and bubbly, not hot and tasting of bark. However, an event which occurred a few months ago may have opened up a new path in my beverage worldtrack. My wife and I were out on a date, and we stopped at a tea shop. While there, she obtained a cup of some sort of steaming concoction which smelled...well, fascinating.
I had a sip.
Spices...cinnamon...cream...and pepper...
"What is this divine mixture?" I asked.
"Chai," she said.
"More," I said.

The taste of this stuff was the brick hearth in front of the fireplace on a cool autumn day in Topeka. The blue sky, the brilliant trees, the heat and sweater; it was all there. She assures me that this Chai was not like all other Chai, that most chai is simply spiced and tasty. This was chai of times past, chai of idyllic days when chai could only be found at Indian restaurants and certain coffee shops run by the Illumina-tea, and obtainable only by the exchange of coded passphrases, obscure hand gestures, and making certain unmentionable and disquieting sacrifices in mountaintop stone rings shunned by wholesome folk above witch-haunted Pomona.
Or something like that; it might be that she said "This isn't the usual chai," and the rest came from my just having read a bunch of Lovecraft at 3 am after eating cold pizza.

So now I like my drinks cold, bubbly, and sweet...unless they're chai.
So what do I do in this case? Tonight, we're trying something called Chai Cola, by Taylor's Tonics. I'm going to assume it's not hot and peppery, but I'm truly not sure what else to expect.

Chai Cola is pictured here next to my favorite tea-drinking mug. It seemed appropriate.
Pictured here is my favorite tea-drinking mug with my second-favorite tea-drinking mug (which I picked up in South Miami Beach). They go rather well together, don't you think?

Where and when: I think I picked this one up at a BevMo.
Color: Slightly lighter than I expected, with a foamy head more commonly seen on root beer. Definitely in the dark brown family, but without the unplumbed dark red depths.
Scent: Hmm. The spices are more reminiscent of cola than anything else, but there is a faint bit of something slightly more acrid. Imagine some cola with a fair bit of cinnamon and cumin, sprinkled lightly over a campfire.
K-i-C: "Smells vaguely like chai root beer."
Taste: Huh. It's actually pretty nice--tastes of caramel, cinnamon, maybe wintergreen, a bit of coriander, and cola under it all.
K-i-C: "Tastes vaguely like chai that somebody poured some Pepsi into. Tastes like Chai when you breathe out, on the roof of your mouth."

Yep. Interestingly, this one's taste has a distinct physical location in my mouth: the roof, right at the back of the hard palate. About 40 seconds after drinking, there's a distinct peppery burning at that spot, which I have never experienced with a soda before.

It's pretty nice. The cola and caramel-spice-pepper-coriander of the chai go well together, and are well balanced. We get a nice, cool brew with pleasant, heady vapors. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite manage the fireside on a perfect autumn evening. Actually, with the temperature, volatility, and spiciness, it has an almost noir-ish feeling. I feel as though I should be wearing a trenchcoat.
But it's a good kind of noir. This one will probably end with me getting paid, rather than bleeding to death in the gutter, watching the beautiful autumn leaves swirl by.

Quaff rating: 3.5. Unusually nice! Especially noteworthy for good balance.
Cough rating: 0.5. A slight burning sensation.

*It should be noted that, among the many reasons on which my decision to marry the lovely and eloquent Kibbitzer-in-Chief was based, not least was the fact that she can make a darned fine chicken-fried steak.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Coco Fizz Chocolate Soda

Happy Labor Day, everybody!

The Lab isn't doing any of the traditional barbecue-related Labor Day festivities, partially due to the highly anomalous rain north San Diego county has experienced today*. I suppose that Labor Day would be more appropriately observed with...well...labor. And, of course, here at the Lab, we have one real labor; the consumption of sugary beverages!

So in honor of America's laborers, past and present, we'll open up a bottle of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory's Coco Fizz Chocolate Soda.

The screw is also in honor of Labor Day, recognizing the labor conditions many workers experienced historically.

We haven't tried a lot of chocolate sodas at the Lab. Chocolate has a long history as a soda flavor, and only recently does it seem to have fallen under the umbrella of Weirdness. My understanding is that during the age of the soda fountain, chocolate would not have been at all an unusual ingredient to add to a soda mix; no eyebrows would be raised, neither would parenting be questioned. Why, then, has the concept of a chocolate soda become something which strikes the average soda consumer as being Weird?

I am guessing that the domination of the market by bottled (and then canned) colas and lemon-lime sodas is responsible. After all, in a day when a fruit-flavored soda preference marks one as a nonconformist (I'll bet Ron Paul drinks Welch's grape soda!), what hope does something like a chocolate soda have?

Yet even now, one can obtain carbonated chocolate, as we have. Let us honor the history and tireless work of the soda jerks of yore by quaffing this example of chocolateyness.

And who do we have to thank for this?
Well, the label says "Rocky Mountain Chocolate Company"...except where it says "Durango Soda company"...whose address is "". I suppose this is by the same folks who make Zuberfizz Key Lime soda.

Where and when: The K-i-C got this at Cost Plus World Market a few months ago. Let's say June.
Color: An odd light brown. Roughly the color of apple juice. Not what I would associate with chocolate. I'm experiencing some cognitive dissonance. Not quite completely transparent; there's a hint of cloudiness.
Scent: Powerfully chocolate. The scent is quite strong, becoming inescapable from the moment the bottle is opened. Entropy has forever permeated the Lab with the scent of chocolate.
I suspect the K-i-C will not be pleased.
Olorin: "Whoa. Pure chocolate." *pause* "No, it's a tootsie roll. No other smells mixing in, just pure Tootsie Roll."
He's right. That's a more accurate description of the smell.
Nazgul: "Yeah. Tootsie Roll."
Taste: Very sweet. The chocolate is the only significant taste at first, and Olorin is correct: it's not regular chocolate, it's Tootsie Roll chocolate. Unusual for the purity of the flavor. This hits like a ten-foot Tootsie Roll falling off a logging truck.
About ten seconds in, there's an interesting bit of pleasant bitterness around the edges. This makes it momentarily a bit more like chocolate syrup.

Nazgul: "Tastes like it smells."
Olorin: "Tootsie roll with BUBBLES! Holy cow. It's a Tootsie roll infused with bubble. It's a potent beverage."
Nazgul :"Mmmmmmmm..."

Apparently, Nazgul likes it, while Olorin isn't quite so sure. As for me, it wouldn't be my first choice. I like Tootsie rolls and chocolate syrup as much as anyone, but they don't really work well for me as a soda flavor.
That said, if I were going to seek out a chocolate soda, it might well be this one. It's fairly crisp, and the flavor is saturated and pleasant.

I'm not even going to offer this one to the Kibbitzer, as she is one of those rare people who honestly don't like chocolate. A Weird Weird Soda Reviewer, if you will (hat tip to The Crossed Pond for the title).

Quaff rating: 2.5. Pleasant enough, but not something I'd seek out.
Cough rating: 0.5. VERY strong.

UPDATE: After posting the review, I took a much bigger swig. The taste was surprisingly different...much more of the bitterness, so a bit more like actual chocolate.  liked it better that way, so if you're taking bigger mouthfuls, up the Quaff rating to 3.0.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Americana Vintage Soda Root Beer

As Labor Day approaches, a Quaffmaster's mind turns to thoughts of American history. Or, possibly, childbirth; I imagine that mothers of children born on Labor Day view the irony with gaiety and laughter*. But in this case, I have chosen to celebrate the approaching festival with a review of a soda which, by its label, calls to mind nostalgic visions of my nation.

The drawer pulls are supposed to be reminiscent of old-style buttons on a smart waistcoat, suitable for a gentleman of leisure.

Americana Vintage Soda Root Beer has an American flag high on the label. The "Vintage" designation is undoubtedly designed to call to mind idyllic afternoons, in which one would ride down to Mr. Friendly's corner market with one's pack of lovable rapscallions to trade in nickels and dimes for a glass of genuine root beer and a bag of licorice whips, to be consumed whilst sitting by the local creek and listening to that new rock-'n-roll music which would mildly scandalize one's parents.

One wonders what sort of nostalgic reminiscences of Earth-That-Was a ten-year-old today will have of his or her youth when said ten-year-old is eighty and living in a retirement pod on one of the Inner Worlds**.

In any case, this bottle firmly fixes the chronological target of the intended reminiscence by pointing out, on the side of its label, that it is bottled (by Orca***) in a 50's style bottling plant. I'm not completely clear on what that means, except that I suspect there are matronly ladies, rulers held at the ready, roaming the conveyor belts, alert for impropriety and necking in the dim corners of the factory floor.

We've tried two others from Orca's Americana line, the Black Cherry (which was justifiably recommended to us, and reviewed at the Madonna Inn) and their Honey Lime Ginger Ale. Both were tasty.

Where and when: I'm dealing with a backlog of Weird acquisitions, so I'm not honestly sure where this came from. Or when. However, the K-i-C won't let me get any more until I deal with some of this.
Color: Dark brown, ever-so-slightly more yellow than the deep red of some root beers. Decent head at first pour.
Scent: Fascinating. A sweet smell, which first strikes me as a bit citrusy, with cream and spice, but I have some trouble nailing it down...and then I get it. Cinnamon toast. It smells like cinnamon toast! Or maybe cinnamon rolls. This is a good thing. It's quite clear and smooth, strongly spicy/cinnamon, cream-ish, sharp. Not much of the more herbal/bitter you get on some other root beers, not a lot of gentian or coriander.
K-i-C: "Smells oddly like Sweet tarts. It's got this chalkiness, tablet-y. Like licorice Sweet Tarts." She's not as fond of it as I am.
Me: "I thought it smelled like cinnamon rolls."
K-i-C: *doubtful* "It smells like something you're supposed to chew."

You chew cinnamon rolls! I am declaring victory.

Taste:Very sweet, quite smooth. The traditional root beer flavor is there, with the aforementioned cinnamon strong among them. Notably smooth; almost disturbingly so. Hints of tart linger at the edges, but not nearly as strong as a Sweet Tart. Licorice is also present. Vanilla is another very strong component.
Actually, the vanilla and cinnamon are almost too strong; it's on the far sweet/sharp border of what I would even call root beer. That's not to say it's bad; I actually like the taste quite a bit.
Let's get some other opinions. I summon the rest of the staff.

Me: "Hey, guys. Come taste this Weird soda."
Nazgul: "What is it?"
Me: "I'd like you to taste it without knowing."
Nazgul: *suddenly trudging, rather than running, to the Lab* "Oh, <i>no</i>..."

Olorin: "Hmm. Chocolatey cola root beer. Like a mix between chocolate, cola, and root beer. I like it."
I see what he means about the chocolate.
Nazgul: "It's good. Has Mama tried it?"
Me: "No, she didn't like the smell."

So this one gets approval from me, Olorin, and Nazgul, but fails to win over the Kibbitzer. This isn't all that unusual; the K-i-C fills the (scientifically critical) role of Lab skeptic on soda matters.

As far as I'm concerned, this is a worthy contribution, if barely root beer. A very interesting, pleasant taste and texture.

Quaff rating: 4.0. Could be more complex, but lovely in its simplicity.
Cough rating: 0.5. Maybe just a bit too sweet. Not completely a root beer.

* In the years after childbirth, anyway.
** "Hey, you browncoats! Git off mah lawngrid!"
*** I presume the company, rather than in the sense of "made by killer whales".

Friday, August 26, 2011

Judge Wapner's Root Beer

The Weird Soda Review Lab is dedicated to exploring soda Weirdness in all its aspects. Most of the time, we end up quaffing sodas (or similar beverages) whose Weirdness is most manifest in their flavor or texture. It is useful to be reminded now and then that soda Weirdness can have other aspects. A soda could have an unusual scent, for example. A soda might even have Weird history.

Or, in this case, just a really Weird name.

When I saw Judge Wapner's Root Beer, I really had no choice but to take it home. Root beer is hardly, in and of itself, Weird; it's nearly ubiquitous. And while there are many varieties, possessing varying degrees of intrigue and deliciousness (Boot Rear is one of the best I've had, but I can't find any to review!), the simple fact that it is root beer doesn't even raise an eyebrow.

The fact that its label contains the name and picture of a figure from a popular court-TV show from the early 1980's, does qualify as Weird.

I'm not sure what complaint was just decided against Indy, Boba Fett, Batman, a stormtrooper, an unnamed Jedi in aqua sweatpants, and an alien, but it must have been a doozy.

I didn't watch the show, but I do clearly remember several things about it. I remember Judge Wapner saying "I know you've been sworn, and I have read your complaint...". I thought I remembered the theme song, but whenever I try to get it going through my head, it invariably becomes the theme song to either Hawaii Five-O or The Prisoner*. Just the other day, it was revealed to me that the court in The People's Court was not in fact a courtroom, but rather what amounted to binding arbitration**. Why Judge Wapner is now showing up on my root beer is somewhat of a mystery, although the fact that he is depicted saying "I sentence you to drink my root beer!" may not bode well for the upcoming experience.

This is from the "Real Soda in Real Bottles" company, who produce a whole variety of Weird products. Their web site is something to behold. It mentions that they have an outlet store, too...

I feel a pilgrimage coming on.

But back to this one. It's cane-sugar-sweetened, with no other ingredients of note mentioned. Let's give it a try!

Where and when: Purchased at BevMo, but I truly don't remember when. Color: Quite dark brown--almost opaque. Some head.
Scent: Tart/spicy, fairly typical root beer. Perhaps a little more tart than some, with a stronger smell of something like gentian root. Slightly reminiscent of the smell of Moxie.
Taste: Quite smooth. The initial taste is mostly sweet, with vanilla and cinnamon tones strong at the front. These fade into the background, leaving an interesting situation. It feels as though there's a strong lemony flavor trying to come in, but not quite making it. In my mind, I see a stretchy, soap-bubble-like membrane just holding back a flood of bright yellow citrus. It's straining, bulging in, but the smoother and spicier flavors are left to frolic and play, safe from the lemon tsunami. The herbal, gentian-like flavor isn't as strong as its smell would suggest.
It's pleasant. It's a bit more herbal than I usually associate with root beer--I usually prefer more cinnamon-y flavors--but it's enjoyable as it is.

A pleasant follow-up observation: there is no unpleasant aftertaste! It just sort of saunters off.

Quaff rating: 3.5. Kind of nice, actually. Surprisingly smooth and pleasant, with good aftertaste.
Cough rating: 0.5. The herbal background is a bit off-putting, but not really any problem.

*I'm looking forward to "Number Six Soda", or "Rover's Refreshing Lifestyle Drink". If I remember, based on the little animation that we saw whenever he was summoned, Rover was effectively an example of semi-sentient carbonation gone bad.

**Next they'll tell me that the Village doesn't really exist.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Drank Extreme Relaxation Beverage

We at the Weird Soda Review Lab, being sober, serious types, tend to observe societal trends and memes from a detached and analytical perspective. "This new thing, which all of the young folk are doing," we ask, "what is its nature? Is it virtuous? Does it contribute to wholeness of soul and body?" For example, it has recently come to our attention that something called "Nyan Cat" has spread its influence over the internet. Despite our curiosity about this, we have not yet gone in search of it for two reasons.

1. We hear it involves rainbows and singing. As sober, serious types, we are suspicious of such indications of possible frivolity and lightheartedness. Hi-ho, round-the-maypole, tra-la-la-here-we-go-wibbling and all that. Humph.

2. "Nyan Cat" is dangerously close to sounding like "Nyarlathotep". As an entity with a thousand forms, each more monstrous and sanity-shaking than the last, Nyarlathotep can be a tricky one. A rainbow-spewing, flying kitty doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility as an Avatar of the Dark One.

Oh, what the heck. *Google*

Huh. I didn't expect the Pop Tart body. I don't think my sanity is particularly threatened, though...if it is Nyarlathotep himself, he's got some work ahead of him before he cameow meow MEOW meow MEOWmeowmeowmeowMEOWmeowMEOWMEOWmeowMEOWmeow...


Oh God...the things I have seen...

As I was saying, we are skeptical about cultural memes. Another amusing example is the EXTREME EVERYTHING movement, which has somewhat petered out in the last few years. For a while there, everything was extreme. It seemed that there could never be a thing worth doing which was not worth doing in an "extreme" fashion. A favorite of ours (which was poking fun at the whole thing) was this ad.

No activity, no matter how self-contradictory, was immune from being Extremed. And today we have the logical endpoint of the phenomenon: Drank Extreme Relaxation Beverage.

Drank (third from the left) pictured along with alternate methods for Extreme Relaxation. The Kibbitzer, who has a degree in literature, wishes to express her dissatisfaction with the inclusion of the leftmost item.

The name is especially intriguing. I would have expected the imperative form of the verb, i.e. "Drink". Such a name would be taken as a command to the person browsing the soda aisle, presumably increasing sales. On the other hand, perhaps that isn't specific enough; a general command to "Drink!" might result in the one receiving it simply seizing the nearest beverage.
The past-tense form gives an odd cast to the message. Is it implying that the drinking has already occurred, in a "why question fate/disrupt the timeline" sort of way?

Time to call our Wikipedia skills into play. Let's see..."Nyan Cat"...wait. No! NO NO NO!

Ah. That explains it.

Apparently, "Drank" can also refer to a brew consumed by youths who have insufficient respect for their elders. It consists of codeine and promethazine (from cough syrup), Jolly Ranchers, and soda, mixed into a sort of punch. It is evidently often made with grape candy and grape cough syrup, and thus is often known as "purple drank". It is associated with the hip-hop scene, and is linked to several deaths. I'm presuming that this contains neither codeine or promethazine, but maybe I'd better check the ingredients.
Nope. A bunch of B-complex vitamins, valerian root, melatonin, and sugar. This hardly seems to qualify as "extreme".

So what we have here is a Weird soda, clearly made to resemble or refer to an illicit and dangerous recreational drug, which makes claim to "extreme-ness" but is instead a can of vitamin-fortified herbal-supplement sugar water. *sigh* Kids these days. Get off my lawn.

Where and when: I have no idea where I got this or when. It's been in the fridge for months.
Color: You know, lavender doesn't really seem suitable for a beverage claiming Extreme heritage. Kind of pretty, though. Transparent.
K-i-C: "I'd say orchid."
Scent: Fairly strong, sweet, with berries being the dominant note. A strong contribution by something tart.
K-i-C: "You don't look relaxed."
Me: "But do I look extreme?"
K-i-C: "Smells like bug juice."
This catches me off guard, and makes me think I may have missed a chapter in my beloved's past. Did I marry Bear Grylls?
K-i-C: "Bug juice is extremely watered-down Kool-Aid."

Actually, that might be a good way to market homeopathic drugs. "Try new homeopathic digitalin, now in EXTREME 1,000,000,000-fold DILUTION!"

Taste: Huh. The taste isn't as strong as I would have guessed. It's sweet, but the rose hips add a lot of sour. There's an immediate but slight herbal bitterness, mild but present, which lingers a bit at the sides along with the sour. K-i-C: *grimace* *shrug* "Tastes like Fanta."

This is unimpressive. It's just not very interesting; it's not so much that it tastes bad, but I can't think of any reason why I would want to drink it. This is a beverage meant to appeal to those interested in or familiar with a dangerous homebrewed drug, but which will do nothing except (maybe) make you a bit sleepy, and which doesn't actually taste good. I'm not interested in the drug, and if I want to be sleepy, I just need to stay up late playing Mass Effect 2 or watching Deep Space Nine with the Kibbitzer. And that's a heck of a lot more fun.

Quaff rating: 1.5. Almost completely uninteresting to drink. Mildly interesting as a reference to sociocultural events.
Cough rating: 1.0. The herbal tastes are not especially pleasant.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Weird Soda Review featured on

Really, it was only a matter of time before a bastion of scholarship, research, and culinary adventure like the Weird Soda Review Labs would find itself in the national spotlight. I can only imagine that a seat at the UN Security Council will not be far behind*.

In any case, the Lab was recently contacted by a representative of, requesting permission to use some of the images and text from in a slideshow on their website. Careful consideration as to whether this would represent "selling out to the corporate world, hereafter known as the Man" ensued.

Quaffmaster: "I've called this meeting of the Weird Soda Review Lab staff to carefully consider an opportunity which has arisen."
Staff, in a chaotic burble of comments: "Tell us! What news? Is it the apocalypse?"
Quaffmaster: " has requested permission to make a slideshow featuring some of our work. Now, we should deliberate as to whether this would..."
Staff, in a unified chorus of enthusiasm: "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! WE'RE GONNA BE ON THE NEWS!"

Permission was granted, by a vote of everyone to nobody.

The slideshow is here:

*And we'll be ready. I participated in Model UN for several years during middle school, representing Thailand one year. If I remember, my co-delegate and I were unsuccessful in our grand scheme to end the session with a Thai takeover of the world.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Home-brewed Weirdness: Bacon Cream Soda

The time has come.
The time is NOW.
Bacon Cream Soda, are you good enough*?

We wouldn't be much of a Lab if we didn't engage in original research and experimentation from time to time. This experiment came from a trip to BevMo recently, looking for butterscotch syrup (for the making of butterbeer). Although we didn't find any, I did pick up some Torani cherry and vanilla syrups. And then I saw it, hidden in there among the other Torani syrups...

I didn't even know they made a Bacon syrup.

Tiny Weirdness bells began to ring in my mind. The possibilities...! What hideous chimera-like creations could we produce with a bacon-flavored soda syrup?
And more to the point--if we, the staff of the Weird Soda Review labs, didn't make them, who else would dare?
Plus, Google searches for "soda reviews" invariably return reviews of Primus's album "Pork Soda". Just imagine...if we dare this feat, we will have actually made a pork soda! We must do this. We MUST.

But how? What can we use as a base?

And then it hit me. We must use the pinnacle of sodas--a cream soda--for this creation. We shall create a Bacon Cream Soda!

An early attempt at this mixture was distributed yesterday to a group of unsuspecting victims volunteers playing Order of the Stick at the Lab. Their responses varied between horror and disgust to a certain bemused disdain, tinged by nausea. Worth noting is that not one of them finished the serving they were given. Some ended up poured down the sink (effects on the sewer system, treatment plant, and employees thereof are still under investigation), and I suspect there may have been a certain amount of discreet smuggling to the toilet. Some was even offered to the Lab dogs, Freya and Flitwick. The dogs turned it down after a single sniff, despite the fact that it smelled like bacon.

This can only be considered an unqualified success.

Several days later, after a suitable lighning storm to obtain the 1.21 gigawatts of energy needed for the fusion, and the establishment of new sodahazard level 5 precautions at the Lab, I am pleased to report (with singed hair and a wild-eyed look) success. It has been created. It waits on the table, in a small cup. The first Bacon Cream soda ever created at the Lab.

To accomplish this, I mixed five parts Zevia Cream Soda with one part Torani Bacon Syrup. And now it shall get its due--a proper review.

Where and when: The Zevia was obtained from Whole Foods. The Torani syrup came from BevMo. The idea arose from N'kai, in all likelihood.
Color: Disturbingly fizzy, significantly more than the usual Zevia. Dark amber, ever-so-slightly cloudy. Glistens eerily.
K-i-C: "It is actually amber. As in the color of amber."
Scent: Just sitting here with it on the table in front of me, I am detecting a disturbing scent of fried bacon. It's actually pretty accurate--maybe slightly sweter than the real thing, but otherwise, highly reminiscent of actual bacon. The fact that it is two feet away from me is impressive; I'm not sure I've ever detected the smell of a Weird soda from this distance.
Closer up, the smell is quite strong. The bacon now has a strong side-scent of maple. It's very much as if you poured maple syrup on bacon (which the K-i-C is fond of doing. Weird breakfast.)
K-i-C: "Smells like Der Waffle Haus."
I note with approval that she is likening the smell to a fictional diner featured in "Dead Like Me". Clearly, our creation is eating away at the barriers which separate our sane, rational universe from its own imaginary creations.
Taste: I'm not sure if I hate it or love it.

The bacon taste is extremely strong, almost overwhelming. At this point, I should really take a moment aside to offer Torani my sincere congratulations on the creation of an accurate bacon syrup. What other havoc can be wreaked with this?

The bacon has transmogrified the sweet, slightly acidic vanilla of the Zevia into a maple-ish vanilla hybrid, which twines itself along the bacon. The two mix in a remarkable way; a vined scaffold of sweet/salty breakfast soda emerges, hung with glistening pods from which pork fat gently drips, to fall sizzling onto a sweetened griddle.

Another sip. I am astonished; it's actually good. Quite good. The worst part is the smell just before you sip; that's mostly bacon, which clashes badly with the expectation of a soda. However, once the soda actually hits your's almost nice. Better than the Tofurky and Gravy soda, at least.

K-i-C: "It's true, it smells worse than it tastes. The aftertaste is..."*reluctantly*"...actually pleasant. "
*makes "yuck faces"*
K-i-C: "It's got that fake sugary feel."
She smacks her lips and grimaces in disgust a few times.
K-i-C: "It tastes like a carbonated $2.99 breakfast special. Like someone took your cheap bacon and got cheap maple syrup all over it."
The K-i-C is now recoiling. She regards the creation with fear and loathing.
Mad? MAD, you say? They called me mad at Oxford, too! But I'll show them!

I actually kind of like cheap diner food, which may explain our difference of opinion. It may be that this tastes good only in contrast to how it smells and how I expected it to taste, but the fact remains--it's kind of good. Kind of not, too--it manages to feel greasy, and the contrast, while interesting, is not entirely a good thing.

I am astonished, but happy to report it, to find that this is not just very Weird, but almost tolerable. Go forth, all you who seek Weirdness in your beverages, and make variants upon the Bacon Cream soda. I note that ThinkGeek (the best catalog in existence) sells a variety of bacon-related merchandise; perhaps an arrangement can be reached...

I wonder if a buttered pancake soda is possible?

I will provide ratings as if this were a soda we purchased, but as a Lab creation, we will regard this as ineligible for inclusion on any lists.
Quaff rating: 3.0. Interesting, and surprisingly good.
Cough rating: 2.0. The smell and initial taste did make me pause and close my eyes.

*"Enough" pronounced with the same "-ough" phoneme as "bough"**
** Which, I am told, is actually an acceptable archaic pronunciation for the word. So there.

Zevia Cream Soda

One hazard of Weird Soda reviewing is that all that sugar--that lovely cane sugar, or the lesser high-fructose corn syrup--carries a significant number of calories. Those calories have led me, the Quaffmaster, to possess a certain amount of excess abdominal infrastructure*.
Thus, it would behoove me to investigate the less energetically-enhanced varieties of Weird soda. In fact, one might even say that producing sweetness without sugar is inherently a Weirdness-enhancing endeavor. Doing so with an herb such as stevia (which we grow in the Lab backyard) is an odd thing, but we must not flinch from such a thing.

Stevia produces a very sweet taste, with an odd set of accompanying flavors. It always feels to me to have a certain amount of bitter undertone. Not enough to be unpleasant, but it can alter tastes. We've reviewed another offering from Zevia (one of the leading stevia soda canners), their Black Cherry flavor, which did well with the unique flavors of stevia. However, tonight we will put Zevia to the test. They have dared the highest peaks of sodadom, and released a cream soda.

The Zevia cream soda, next to some fancy bread. Cause we're fancy folks.

Readers of this blog will probably be aware of my love of cream sodas. "Passionate" would not be an excessively strong description. Can this stand up to the giants of cream? Let the tasting begin.

Where and when: Purchased at Whole Foods, Encinitas, CA, in July 2011.
Color: A moderately dark amber. Just a bit darker than a lager, and a tiny bit more orange than most urine.
Scent: Pretty clear vanilla cream, no hint of herbal or bitter. A typical sharper/sweet vanilla--the french vanilla, rather than bourbon vanilla, style.
Taste: The vanilla is quite strong, almost too much so. This is not a subtle cream soda; this vanilla steps up in a ten-gallon Stetson, says "Howdy", and sells you a used Ford. The stevia herbal flavor is all but buried. It does poke through a bit, like tall grass through rusted floorboards, but it's actually kind of nice with the vanilla. Lends a bit of interest to the low side of the taste. Could almost taste metallic, but doesn't.

As a strong french-vanilla style cream soda, this is actually pretty good. Not the best I've ever had, but not bad at all. I prefer it to most other stevia sodas I've had.

I pronounce this a worthy cream soda, of the slightly Weird variety.

Quaff rating: 3.5. I'm giving it a bonus for the interesting interaction between the vanilla and stevia.
Cough rating: 0.5; almost overpoweringly sweet.

*I'm sure that the occasional** visits to Jack-In-The-Box have NOTHING to do with it.
**The word "occasional" is not, in this case, meant to be taken as a statement of fact.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sioux City Prickly Pear

Once more the global reputation of the Weird Soda Review Lab has brought us a windfall. Undoubtedly drawn by the impeccable credentials of the Lab as a bastion of scholarship, unimpeachable integrity, and enthusiastic Weirdness, the Sioux City company (whose birch beer and sarsaparilla we have previously quaffed) have sent us their latest concoction, Prickly Pear.

Prickly Pear is, of course, a cactus whose fruit and flesh (as nopales) are edible. I am going to presume that this soda is based on the fruit, and that the spines have been removed.

In addition, since I have recently been volunteering as a stagehand at Vista's "Moonlight Ampitheater", I will write the rest of the review in iambic pentameter.


Sioux City, knowing of our peerless wit
And trusting us to weigh their Prickly Pear
'gainst other sodas, did vouchsafe to us
A sample, which we now shall quaff and rate.

The bottle, clearest glass, doth show its shade;
Magenta like unto the rosy light
When Helios, our sun, has dipped below
The rim of Earth, and clouds are painted red

Decanting some, I raise my cup and sniff
Allowing effervescence to convey
The essence of its fruity scent within.
My nostrils read its tale, and thus I speak:

A sweetness strong it shows, but not alone;
Intriguing shades of fruit do lie beneath,
Tart berries war with citrus, scent on scent.
A mellow note alloys the sweet and tart.

The youngest of the tasting personnel
Reports the smell as "Cherry!" and seems glad.
The Lead Assistant Tester claims he finds
"Strawberry, cherry, plasticky" therein.

I'll not deny the berries they perceive;
Indeed, those fruits encompass well the scent,
Though I would place a lemon in the mix,
perhaps a lime, and berries at the front.

And now comes tasting; do we fear to quaff
This rosy brew? No, no! The scent is kind,
Raspberry-tart, and not suggesting that
Within lies any horror unforeseen.

We taste! The smell has led us true, the drink
Is pear and berries, citrus comes in strong.
Raspberry! That's the flavor I detect.
"Quite tart!" the Lead Assistant says (and true).

The Lead Assistant and the Nazgul both
Declare their joy in quaffing Prickly Pear.
Myself, I find that, while the taste is nice,
The aftertaste is not what I desired.

Initial tastes of berriews, lime, and pear
O'ertaken by a rush of sour regret;
Not wholly bad, but still regrettable
If only it had mellowed at the end!

This soda is not one to fear or shun.
The others in the Lab enjoyed the taste.
I'll not pretend to find it without peer,
But not half bad. I'd drink this down again.

But how to rate it? On the scale of Quaff,
A 3.5 would best describe the taste.
It's interesting, and has a certain flair,
But not among the best I've ever had.

In Cough, 'twas nothing which inspired my gorge
To rise; I found it drinkable enough.
The sourness of the aftertaste alone
Inspires a nought-point-five; no more is just.


Well, there you have it. Sioux City has produced a pleasant cactus-flavored soda. Really, fruit-flavored is a better description; raspberry is by far the strongest feel it gives.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Day" of Coconut #4: Micoco

There are Weird sodas which make you want to quaff them with desperate longing. Somewhere out there, there's a cherry-pear-vanilla cream soda, moderately carbonated, with cane sugar and agave. It'll taste like summer. It will swirl opalescently in the glass bottle, glowing faintly with its own inner radiance. That is the Ultimate Weird Soda, and I will someday approach it at sunset, winding my horn, to do some unimaginable final Quaffing.

Then there are Weird sodas which you have to quaff despite the fact that they are almost certainly going to be vile. To quaff all that is quaffable is your calling, and that includes the barely-quaffable but very Weird. These are the ones which, once you have recovered, find you clinging to a spare bit of furniture, gnashing your teeth and bemoaning the fate which led you to open that bottle/can/crate/whatever.

And then there are the ones which simultaneously intrigue and frighten you. They might be okay. They might even be good, but that's not why you have them. You have them because there was something compellingly Weird about them, something which compels you. You can't look away. You find yourself coming back to them, imagining the quaffing to come.

I invite you to look at this, Micoco, the fourth and last of the coconut-based sodas on this ever-lengthening Day of Coconut, and see which you think it is.

Errrr....that had better not be backwash.

Keep in mind when looking at that picture that those floating bits of...stuff...don't move. Ever. I think that's what I noticed first about Micoco; the floating bits are perfectly motionless. They must be almost perfectly neutrally buoyant. I'm not sure what to make of that. I had this bottle of Micoco in the Lab fridge for weeks, and they didn't settle to the bottom. As far as I could tell, they didn't shift at all.

I did consider the possibility that the liquid part of the Micoco was more of a gel, and was holding them in place--but no, when you swirl the bottle, they move. They then gradually settle into a new configuration, and stay there, holding perfectly still. There's an almost Zen-like quality about them; points of perfect stillness, neither sinking nor rising, but simply existing in their place. They are neither immobile nor mobile; they move when their surroundings move, let return to a state of equilibrium immediately when their bottle becomes still.

I thought about heating the bottom and seeing if I could get it to act like a circulating glitter lamp, but feared doing so might alter the taste.

In any case, this is a Weird phenomenon, and so I'm gonna quaff it. I have this image of bits of (presumably) coconut pulp floating, perfectly motionless, in my digestive tract, being slowly moved along. Perhaps I will acquire some of that stillness.

Where and when: Appeared in a mysterious flash of blue light on the Lab table, March 2011*.
Color: Cloudy, ever-so-slightly yellow-gray, transparent enough to observe the floating bits of coconut pulp and their unsettling immobility.
Scent: Wow. Very weird. Not really sweet at all-faint, slightly bready or even meaty. More like pot roast, maybe? With potatoes.
JAT: "It doesn't really smell like anything, just a slightly limey-coconut."
K-i-C: *extravagant grimace* "I was thinking slightly of spitup. Not vomit, mind you."
Me: "So like baby spitup?"
K-i-C: "Yeah."
LAT: "I see what the K-i-C is saying. I liked it better smelling it through the bottle."
K-i-C: "That's because you couldn't smell it as much."

The smell is pretty foul, actually. I don't get spitup--I still think it's more like a roast potato--but I see what she means.

Taste: K-i-C: *immediately spits it back into the cup*
LAT: "Almost...kind of...creamy. Kind of creamy starch? Ewwww."
Ugh. The texture is fairly thick, slightly syrupy but not sticky. The taste is much sweeter than the smell. Tastes a little bit like pancake batter.
LAT: "I don't like it at all."
K-i-C: "I think my opinion is fairly clear."

*sip* Whoa...ugh. I actually almost spit that sip out. It's sweet, thick, and vaguely starchy. If it were chunky, it would be sort of like a sweet porridge. It's...

LAT: "Upsetting?"

Yeah. That's a good word for it. This is an upsetting beverage. It's really quite sweet, but with a nasty undercurrent of starchiness/slight saltiness, and a texture like a thin cornstarch soup. Between the weird taste and disturbing texture, it's enough to make me want to spit it out too. So, naturally, I'm going to have another sip. Because that's what I do.
*restrain urge to vomit*

Oh...good gracious God.

Maybe I don't like coconut as much as I thought.
Interestingly, the label says it's imported from Thailand by the "Squalo Trading Company". I note that "Squalo" is just a letter short of "Squalor", which is the image in my mind.
Just beneath that is a cartoon of a person tossing a beverage container backwards over his head. I would assume that that is a suggestion to recycle, but the container is not labeled as such. Thus, I have decided that it is, instead, a suggestion subtly worked onto the label by someone involved in the bottling process, urging the consumer to dispose of this stuff before drinking it. The blissful smile on the cartoon person's face suggests that his decision has filled him with a sense of peace and contentment. I, too, once had such a look on my face. About ten minutes ago.

But I am the Quaffmaster, and contentment is not my ka.

At least now I know about the floating bits of pulp. Their Zen-like calm is not a result of perfect equanimity, or of unit with the universe. It's the stillness of a praying mantis, waiting for the perfect moment to strike as a newborn butterfly emerges from its chrysalis. They are floating bits of evil, waiting for the stars to be right. On that day, they shall spring into dreadful and portentous motion indeed.

Quaff rating: The flavor is interesting and unusual, in the sense that nobody should make any of it ever again. 1.5.
Cough rating: I've had worse, but not a whole lot of them. 3.5.

* Actually, The rest of the Lab staff got this one for me at Stater Brothers, Vista, CA

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"Day" of Coconut #3: Goya Coconut Soda

We continue in our voyage through the seas of Coconut Weirdness today with a quaffing of Goya's Coconut Soda. This comes to us in an attractive green bottle, with an appealing picture of a coconut. It also bears the sobering and stark warning "ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS". This is interesting; most sodas boldly claim "No artificial flavors!", or humbly admit "Natural and artificial flavors" (while averting their eyes and mumbling like an embarrassed adolescent). This one say "Yeah, my flavors are artificial. All of them. Every single one a proud product of human-supervised synthetic chemistry. I'm post modern, baby, a techno-thriller that'll assimilate your taste buds."

A green bottle of synthetic goodness.
This soda is proud of its heritage in a vat somewhere in New Jersey.
Or maybe not; there is no ingredient label or nutritional info present. I have no idea what this contains. It might never have been close to a coconut. It might conceivably contain axle grease. Or powdered hummingbird. Or swarms of nanobots which will restructure my intestines into a 1:100 scale model of Notre Dame.
But does it taste like coconut?

Where and when: Given to me by ChopChop in March 2011.
Color: Completely transparent, no color.
Scent: Very faint. I suspect it's supposed to smell like coconut meat, but it doesn't quite. It's got a sharp, kind of acrid feel high in the nose. Sweet undertone.
K-i-C: *grimace* "Stinky."

Taste: The initial taste is sweet, but with an odd acid background. The taste of shredded sweetened coconut meat is clear. It's also somewhat reminiscent of cotton candy.
K-i-C: "Tastes fine. Doesn't have much of a flavor at all, actually. I just taste sugar and carbonation."
This surprises me.I wouldn't have guessed that this would please the Kibbitzer, given her dislike of coconut and soda. Perhaps she has become too jaded.
It's much more like a typical soda than the Amy and Brian juices, both because it is carbonated and because of the much stronger sweetness.
A larger sip produces a stronger acid/tart feel, which is not a good thing.
Wyvern: "Even less pumpkin-y." (than the other two juice-based ones)

Quaff rating: Fairly tasty, if a bit tart. 3.0
Cough rating: Nothing too terrible. 0.5.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Day" of Coconut #2: Amy and Brian All Natural Coconut Juice with Lime

One of the problems with dealing with advanced science like Weird Soda Reviewing is that you sometimes encounter odd phenomena. For example, when reviewing the previous coconut-based beverage, I intended that all four of the candidates would be reviewed in the same epic Day of Coconut.
Oddly enough, the seriousness of this undertaking led to an unusual phenomenon. Given that seriousness can be referred to as "gravity", we inadvertently increased the local gravitational field. Thus, to an outside observer, time in the Lab (where we were undergoing a task with such immense gravitas) seemed to slow relative to those observers (i.e. y'all). Hence, while it may seem as though more than one day has gone by in your reference frame since the review of the previous coconut juice, rest assured that this is simply an alteration in apparent time brought about by the immense gravity of the situation, and in actuality, we are still in the Day of Coconut.

Plus, the slower passage of time should lower the pitch of sounds. So while you read this, make sure to imagine it being spoken in a very deep, impressive bass voice. James Earl Jones would do nicely.

Anyway, we're now going to review another Amy and Brian Coconut Juice. Their other one was, simply, coconut juice. You may recall that I found it somewhat disturbing*. As it turns out, the Kibbitzer-in-Chief (much to my surprise) found it refreshing and pleasant. I sometimes really don't understand her.**

Well, Amy and Brian have an alternative available, presumably for those who find the straight-up coconut juice insufficiently tangy. Today, it's Coconut Juice with Lime. Fortunately, it is still (according to the can) isotonic, so my cells shouldn't burst or shrink or anything.

Now with Lime!

Where and when: Purchased at some point at Frazier Farms market, in Vista, CA
Color: Much like the plain coconut juice, but cloudier and ever-so-slightly tinged with green, making it a pale yellow-green.
Scent: Interesting. The tartness of the lime is very evident, overlaying the ever-so-slightly sweet/salty smell of the coconut juice. Reminiscent of lemon-lime Gatorade, but stronger and lime-ier.
Taste: The initial taste is sweet, but less coconutty than the plain coconut juice. The lime/citrus is strong, but adds nicely to the sweet. The best news is that the musky, sweaty aftertaste of the plain juice is less present here. The initial sweetness does still fade into a somewhat musky, melony complex aftertaste, but it's less icky than the plain juice--significantly so. It does linger a bit.


Yes, this is definitely better, at least as far as my preferences are concerned. It's still not something I would greedily seek out and chug, but it's better.

I wonder how Amy and Brian came to decide that lime was the proper additive.

The Kibbitzer-in-Chief informs me that I shouldn't expect coconut juice to taste like coconut meat, and that this muskiness is normal and appropriate for coconut juice. How unfortunate for coconuts.

Quaff rating: Interesting complexity, and the flavor isn't bad. 3.0
Cough rating: Much less likely to make me gag. 1.5.

*"I find your flavor disturbing." Now imagine it in James Earl Jones' voice. Yeah.

**On the other hand, the superiority of her aesthetic judgment over mine is well-established and beyond question, so you may want to keep that in mind.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day of the Coconut #1: Amy & Brian All Natural Coconut Juice

I've got a bubbly bunch of coconuts.
There they are a-standin' in a row.
Canned ones, glass ones, some with odd floaty bits
I'll do a review, and when I am through,
I'll probably call it quits.*

It has been my observation that people feel strongly about coconut. I'm fond of it, myself--macaroons are good, and a nice Mounds bar** always lifts my spirits. The Kibbitzer-in-Chief, on the other hand, loathes coconut. She will break into headlong, panicked flight at the appearance of pina colada Jelly Bellies.
Being who I am, my first impulse upon preparing to write this group of reviews was to do some reading about coconuts. I learned that they are fruits rather than nuts***, and that not many people are killed by falling coconuts each year. Apparently, the "coco" part of the name probably refers to a type of boogeyman in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking cultures, which would abduct or devour disobedient children. The three "eyes" of the coconut look something like a skull, or somehow were reminiscent of this mythical tool of frustrated parents.

We can be glad that our name for this fruit derives from Romance languages, as I guess the Anglicized equivalent could well have been "Boogeyfruit".

In any case, presumably because they are terrified of the slight resemblance between the intact fruit and a mythical monster of Portuguese folklore, some people don't like coconut. (Personally, I think it would be kind of empowering to take something which resembled the head of a feared childhood image, crack it open, and feast on the innards****. But maybe that's just me.) Anyway, there are a number of Weird beverages which are based, partially or entirely, on coconut. Many are not carbonated, and thus not technically soda. There is precedent for this variation within the Lab's mission, however, so we will forge ahead.

Today, we are reviewing four coconut-based beverages. The first two are a pair of juice-based beverages from the "Amy & Brian" label. I'm not sure what to make of Amy & Brian; the graphic depicts two silhouettes of people engaged in some sort of funkified movement, presumably induced by their enjoyment of coconut juice.

The funkification of Amy and Brian lends a certain sincerity to this beverage.

Lets begin by quaffing the first of the pair, Amy & Brian All NAtural Coconut Juice. According to the ingredients label, this is, in fact, just coconut juice. It also claims to be an "isotonic" beverage, which in physiology terms means that it has a similar overall amount of dissolved "stuff" as your body's blood plasma and extracellular fluid (aka Human Juice). Good to know.

Where and when: Purchased sometime in 2011 at Frazier Farms market, Vista, CA
Color: Unexected. I guess I was expecting this to pur out looking like coconut milk; instead, it's mostly transparent, slightly cloudy, and a tiny bit yellow. Actually, it looks a bit like blood plasma. Considering its claim to be isotonic, this is a bit upsetting.
Scent: Sweet, unexpectedly musky and acidic. The musk is actually quite strong in the scent. Again, not what I expected, and not much like coconut meat.
LAT: "Ewww! It smells disgusting."
Wyvern: "Awww! *cough* I think I'm going to choke."
LAT: "Smells kind of like pumpkin."

Taste: Hmmm...gluh. The initial taste is sweet and musky, reminiscent of cantaloupe. There's a moderate amount of saltiness behind it. Kind of tastes like sweat, actually.
The aftertaste, coming in around 7-8 seconds, is not an improvement. Salty and earthy. I keep sipping from the cup, trying to get more of the fairly pleasant initial taste, but it keeps going away.
I'll give it this: it has interest and complexity. This is not a simple taste by any means; I am getting a full experience with this bit of Weirdness.
About a minute later, the aftertaste is fading (which is good). To my surprise, I am left feeling kind of good about it. I don't really have an explanation for that; I'd say 65% of the quaffing experience was unpleasant. Yet now, afterwards, I am going to voluntarily sip it again.


Ugh. That was a mistake; it's worse now. The initial melon-y is accompanied by a sharp salty/sour taste which is quite icky.

This one feels dangerous. I fear that as I let this sip settle, I'll want more. If the next one has continued to worsen, it might go badly for me.


I actually feel a teeny tiny stomach clench whenever I first sip this. Yet still, there's something satisfying after it. It just takes a minute or so to get there.

How odd. I'm really not sure what to make of this one. I don't think I've ever had something which actually made me ever-so-slightly nauseated, yet left me thinking about having more--not even Moxie.

LAT: *tentative sip* "That's not that bad.
Wyvern: "Eeeeeuuuuhhhh."
LAT: "Kind of like a liquid, watery pumpkin. Not bad."

Quaff rating: 3. It has an interesting and complex taste, I have to admit it.
Cough rating: 3. Anything which actually makes me grimace has to get a 3 at least.

* The other version ended in the line "I'll probably have the..."
Er. Well, you may not need me to fill in the blank.

** But not the accursed Almond Joy, for it has almonds, and those are unworthy. Apparently, on the "Feel like a nut" vs. "Don't feel like a nut" scale, I am firmly in the "Don't" side. This will probably come as a surprise to anyone who has observed my behavior or read anything Ive ever written.

*** Somehow, the advertising "Sometimes you feel like a fruit. Sometimes you don't." never caught on.

**** My childhood fear was of the kitchen clock; I had a recurring nightmare in which the hands stretched out and grabbed me, and I was eaten. It would probably be less tasty than a coconut, so this avenue of resolving childhood terrors is unavailable to me. Alas.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ständer Refreshing Lifestyle Drink

Once again, Weird Soda Review's illustrious position as the fifth most popular soda review website* has brought us to the attention of the elite bottlers of the soda world. Twice in the last few days, in fact. Two (count them, two!) bottler have contacted the Lab, wishing to send us samples of Weirdness for evaluation. Well, who could blame them? Weird Soda Review is cool****.

The first to arrive was Ständer Refreshing Lifestyle Drink.
If this is a "Lifestyle Drink", then I thought it should be placed in a setting which reflects my lifestyle.
I'm not sure where "lifestyle drink" lies in the beverage taxonomy. I think I'd classify this is a soda, but perhaps it is only intended for consumption as part of specific cultures or faith perspectives. What lifestyle is compatible with Ständer compatible with?

It came to us (and yes, it was addressed to The Quaffmaster at the Weird Soda Review Lab) in a sizeable box. When I opened it, I found a substantial number of small black metal bottles packed in like terra-cotta soldiers in a Chinese imperial tomb. Also included were preparation suggestions (including a mixed drink known as the "One-Night Stander"), information about the ingredients (beet sugar, lemon and spearmint flavors, various B-vitamins, and caffeine (more on that later)), and helpful distribution information (if you need 67,584 bottles of Ständer, then you should order a 40 foot container).

Mint sodas are not usually my favorite, and this seemed to be intended as much as a mixer for liquor as a soda, but I'd say it could be considered Weird enough for the Lab. It's carbonated, it's sweet, it's...caffeinated.

Wait a minute.

There are 80 milligrams of caffeine in each 8.45 oz. bottle. Just in case you're not familiar with caffeine dosages, here are some examples:

Red Bull has about 80 mg of caffeine per can.
A serving of espresso has about 100 mg of caffeine.
An extra-strength No-Doz kind of alertness pill has about 200 mg of caffeine.

This stuff is quite strongly caffeinated. Combined with the sugar, this is really closer to an energy-drink kind of beverage than a simple Weird soda. Still, we must have no fear--this, too, shall be quaffed. However, I feel that it is important to point something out here. The infamous 4Loko beverage (which caused significant problems not too long ago) was problematic because it contained a substantial dose of both alcohol and caffeine. In at least some consumers, it may be that the effects of the caffeine mask the feeling of intoxication from the alcohol, making it harder for the drinker to gauge how intoxicated he or she is becoming.

While Ständer does not contain alcohol, its marketing material makes it clear that it is intended both as a stand-alone soda and as an ingredient in mixed drinks. If you drink this with alcohol, please do so cautiously, and with awareness that you may not feel as much effect from the alcohol as you normally would, but you are still intoxicated.

That said, let's get on with the quaffing. I have with me in the Lab tonight the usual staff, along with Scruffynuts and Olfactorex. I am looking forward to their input on this bit of Weirdness, not least because Olfactorex's name comes from the fact that she has an impaired sense of smell. From a neurological perspective, how much this affects her perception of Ständer will be an interesting thing to assess.

I've described the beverage and its ingredients to the assembled cre.

LAT: "I think I'm going to bounce off the walls after this."

Where and when: Sent to me by the bottler, May 2011
Color: Scruffynuts: “Well, it's clear.”
Indeed. It's transparent, and quite bubbly in appearance.
LAT: "It looks like water...that's really bubbly."

Scent: Moderately strong mint, with a sweet smell of citrus. I'd call it orange rather than lemon.
LAT: “Kind of lemony mint-orange.”
Olfactorex: “I'm not getting any mint, but I have...smell issues.”
Scruffynuts: “I get the mint more than anything. I guess there is a citric-minty flavor.”
K-i-C: “It's very minty.”
LAT: “Kind of ginger ale.”
Nazgul: “It's hard to explain.” (NOTE: this may sound familiar to long-time followers of Nazgul's (nee Wyvern, nee(2)JAT) reviews.
Scruffynuts: “A tang isn't a scent, is it?”

Taste: Sweeter than I expected. The citrus is weaker than I was anticipating, and the mint is surprisingly subtle. It's very sweet, with a background of mintiness, and the lemon is mild. Fairly pleasant, actually.
LAT: “Wow!”
Nazgul: “Wow.”
K-i-C: “It's nowhere near as bubbly as it looked.”
This is true, the carbonation is faint, bith little of the usual acid taste (although it might easily be masked).
LAT: “It tastes like a slight lemon.”
K-i-C: “More like mint iced tea.”
LAT: “I have a weird feeling after drinking this”
Me: “It doesn't work that fast.”
LAT: “Awwww.”
Scruffynuts: “I'm not sure, but if it...a slightly cinnamony taste?”

He's right. There's a cinnamon quality to the aftertaste, delayed by around 20-30 seconds. Maybe even a bit of a bite.

Scruffynuts: ”It tastes different than it smells. What do you think, Olfactorex?”
Nancy: “Nothing. It tastes like a flat ginger ale.”

Interesting. That's not how I would have described it; it's as if she's picking up on the spiciness (which is quite mild) or mint, but not the citrus. Apparently, smell issues have a strong effect on this.

It's actually not bad at all, a pleasant mint-citrus-fruit, milder than expected.

LATER: A few minutes later, there is a very delayed aftertaste: kind of unpleasantly tart-musky. It's not overpowering, but not a lot of fun either.

MUCH LATER: It's 3 am, and I am not sleepy at all. Note to self: avoid large caffeine doses.

Upon much analysis and reflection, I think that--in this particular case--"Lifestyle Drink" represents an affectation more than a substantial difference from other beverages. It's a soda. The fact that it can be mixed with alcohol is not sufficient to allow it to establish a new taxonomic category of "Lifestyle Drink", except inasmuch as what sodas you consume might say something about your lifestyle. For example, I suspect consumption of large amounts of this--while it tastes good, and is pleasant to quaff--would result in my lifestyle edging closer to "insomniac".

Quaff rating: The orange/lemon and mint do surprisingly well together, and this is actually quite nice. Not extremely complex or interesting, but nice. 3.0.
Cough rating: Upon first consuming it, nothing really unpleasant happens. There are some odd aftertastes later (and the caffeine kick is substantial, and for me, unpleasant), but there's very little which is objectionable. 0.5.

* Out**
** I'm completely making that up. I have no idea of our relative popularity***
*** But it's probably about right.

**** Along with bow ties, the humble fez, stetson hats, and bunk beds.
Creative Commons License
This work by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.