Wednesday, March 28, 2007

POP OF THE DAY: Orangina

Category: Adult Contemporary Soda
Ratings (out of 5)
Taste: 5
Fizziness Factor: 5
Bottle/Can Design: 5
Availability: 3

I first tasted Orangina at the only fancy food store that existed in Pittsburgh in the late 80s—but I didn't really appreciate it until I went to Paris as an exchange student. I had never been to bars or cafes before, and I couldn't get enough. When I wasn't gettind drunk on vodka orange with some English paratroopers or watching in amazement as my friend Joe Nocito tried to scuttle down the sidewalk with a cafe table hidden beneath his overcoat, I was doing my best to look mature, even going so far as to cough my way through a Pall Mall bummed from a girl on whom I had a monumental crush, and who repaid my affection by going to the prom with my best friend.

On that trip I sampled the delights of table wine, unrequited love, the Musee D'Orsay, and Orangina: the artistry of the potbellied bottle, the precision blending of the fruit elements (12% juice! 2% pulp!), and that inimitable taste. Yes, it's orange, but it's also tangerine, with a hint of bitter grapefruit to keep it all grounded. And you can shake it. Orangina is uniquely pleasing to all the senses, and in this age of energy drinks and fortified waters, I fervently hope that it has enough admirers to stay on the shelves. But if, some day, Orangina vanishes from the Whole Foods down the street, well, we'll always have Paris. (Total Score 18/20)

Suggested Food Pairings: Croque monsieur, steak frites

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

POP OF THE DAY: G Pure Energy Orange Blossom

Category: Energy Drink
Ratings (out of 5)
Taste: 4
Fizziness Factor: 5
Bottle/Can Design: 5
Availability: 1

In case you've never heard of the silvery Norwegian beauty at left (and I hadn't) here is what Beverage Industry had to say about it:

Voss Artesian Water from Norway created G Pure Energy, a clear and lightly carbonated energy drink. G Pure Energy combines natural sources of caffeine, taurine, amino acids and green tea extract (EGCG) with a crisp taste. The drinks aim is to help drinkers stay strong into the night or boost their energy throughout the day. Lending itself to be mixed with cocktails, the sleek 200-ml. glass bottle is available at select clubs, bars, hotels and restaurants for $2.99.
So how did I end up buying mine for $3.29 at a 7-Eleven? And why did that delectably curvaceous bottle look a little roughed up? Is there some sort of Underground Energy Drink Railroad running from Norway to West Hollywood?

Perhaps we will never know. What I can tell you is this: the 6.8-ounce bottle is almost magnetically enticing, and it feels great in your hand. The drink itself is exceptionally fizzy, with a light orange flavor that falls short of perfection only because it leaves a bit of a sugary aftertaste. As for the purity of G Pure's energy, let's just say that I am typing reeeeeallly fast right now. Only the lack of wide distribution and a website with irritating background music keep this from being one of the all-time greats. (Total Score 14/20)

Suggested Food Pairings: Lutefisk, meatcakes, dumplings

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"Sparkling Beverages" Forsooth!

An article in today's New York Times begins thus:

Healthy soda?

That may strike some as an oxymoron. But for Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, it's a marketing opportunity.

In coming months, both companies will introduce new carbonated drinks that are fortified with vitamins and minerals: Diet Coke Plus and Tava, which is PepsiCo's new offering.

They will be promoted as ''sparkling beverages.'' The companies are not calling them soft drinks because people are turning away from traditional soda, which has been hurt in part by publicity about its link to obesity.

Two points:

1) I love the idea of soda as health food. It takes soda back to its roots, when it was Everyman's Elixir, the tonic of Johnny Lunchpail; when it aided digestion and pepped up sluggish livers. Sipping one of these sodas will be the perfect occasion for me to wear my seersucker suit. But:

2) "Sparkling beverages"? That reminds me of when I was in college at the height of the PC frenzy, when certain female undergraduates were unhappy that an individual of their gender was referred to as a "woman" because the word contained the word "man." So they tried "woperson," but that contained the word "son." So what did they end up with? "Woperdaughter." Catchy, right?

Let me just say that I will never change the name of this blog to Sparkling Beverages Pop Culture Online Reportage and Opinionation Vehicle.

Friday, March 02, 2007

POP OF THE DAY: Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray

Category: Ye Olde Soda
Ratings (out of 5)
Taste: 5
Fizziness Factor: 5
Bottle/Can Design: 4
Availability: 2

According to my extensive research (as always, conducted by reading the bottle) Dr. Brown has been making a celery soda since 1869. I imagine that those were simpler times: carbonated tonics were the lastest health fad, 7UP still contained lithium, and Coca Cola, for some mysterious reason, awakened the tired blood like nobody's business! In this context, a celery soda must have made perfect sense. Or, more accurately, a soda that combines celery seed, which is mildly peppery and reminds me of cumin, with a clean sweetness that makes the soda taste like it might actually be good for you. And Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray is certainly unparalelled in my experience at inspiring good, old-fashioned, health-enhancing belches. This is a soda that everyone should try once if you can find it. Apparently it's most common around New York and at Jewish specialty stores. And while you drink, check out this page of fascinating celery trivia, which includes the fact that sound effects artists crunch celery stalks to simulate the breaking of bones. (Total Score 16/20)

Suggested Food Pairings: Steamed broccoli, brown rice, and a square ol' timey fudge; a corned beef sandwich on rye