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.|
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.
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.”
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 of...er...five**
** 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.