Bolthouse Farms Mango Lemonade

Is it wrong to have actual feelings of love for a juice? I’M NOT SAYING I DO, I’M JUST ASKING FOR A FRIEND.

We’ve talked about the Bolthouse Mango Lemonade via both email and html, so I felt like a proper review was in order. How’s this: LIQUID HEAVEN.

I drank one a few days ago, took my notes, and left the bottle sitting on my desk while I waited for my thoughts to collect themselves into some kind of actual review. This morning I was looking at the bottle and realized I wanted another one so badly that OK maybe one single solitary tear slid down my face, all Iron Eyes Cody style. I’m not ashamed. It just would have hit the spot perfectly and my wanting something I couldn’t have at that moment is nothing to be embarrassed about. That’s the kind of stuff we need to talk about and share. That’s the good stuff, Josh. The good stuff.

This here is a very sweet drink, so people who are candyass should be aware. I find it works particularly well with hot weather. I drank it often last summer, and have officially started up again for the season. The mango to lemon balance is perfect. Let’s face it plain old lemonade is for dumb kids. We are adults now and we need to act like it, by adding things such as mango to our lemonade. The mango tempers the cloying sourness of typical lemonade, maybe? It’s got a strong finish of just straight-up sugar, but for me personally it’s a nice antidote to all that unsweetened tea that everyone won’t shut up about.

Liquid heaven. Like a goddamn little plastic bottle of sunshine and rainbows and big puffy girl handwriting. Dear Bolthouse Mango Lemonade will you be my boyfriend/girlfriend, circle YES NO MAYBE.

Kristian Regale Peach Sparkler

I wasn’t sure what to file this under. Is there a legal distinction between soda and juice, I wonder. Does fruit juice + carbonation always = soda? Or does the presence of fruit juice, no matter the percentage, keep the beverage firmly entrenched in juice territory? An interesting philosophical conundrum, I’m sure you agree. For our purposes today the debate is largely academic, I suppose, given that this isn’t a beverage flying off the shelves and causing mass panic, so we needn’t stress about this review being easily locatable by future generations.

So. Kristian Regale Peach Sparkler is comprised of carbonated water and peach juice. The word “sparkler” got me all wondering if this was going to be a wine cooler at first, you know how I sometimes get. Unfortunately the most interesting factiod turned up by a quick scan of the ingrediments was that this is a Swedish beverage, but a product of Spain. What exactly makes it Swedish then, I wonder. Oh Europe.

The peach juice is operating here in a 25% capacity, so it comes through loud and clear. That much I liked, but I found the carbonation to be fairly heavy, causing me to suffer dearly from a lot of burps. And there was a kind of cumulative weight to the drink, so by the end I was like “Dang am I even going to be able to finish this?” (Spoiler alert I did.)

So in summary, whether or not this counts as juice or soda, to me it tasted pretty much exactly like Clearly Canadian, so I didn’t feel like it was worth the extra import tariff I undoubtedly paid on it, and I probably should have just had the wine cooler I so obviously wanted. But that’s what happens when you are trying to branch out.

Sencha Shot

Sencha Shot is an unsweetened green tea, but unlike most teas it comes in a small aluminum can. Small aluminum can always says to me “Hello, I am an energy drink!” So I nabbed this all excited for a new fusion of unsweetened tea-slash-energy drink. What a thrilling new foray into uncharted beverage territory, etc. Why am I such a dreamer? When will I get my damn head out of the clouds for once. The small aluminum can was just a red herring. It comes in a small can because 6.4 fl. oz.’s is the absolute maximum amount of this fluid a human stomach could ever hope to bear.

I always like to take a sniff of the beverage before the first taste. I know it’s cliche, but my goodness this smelled exactly like someone’s gross feet! Just very strong and repugnant, like someone drew a mustache on me with a used, unlaundered sweat sock. The Dirty Gym Coach, we call that one.

Tastewise, the foot metaphor is made whole. It’s actually just super-concentrated green tea flavor, which I’m told is the whole point of sencha, and which–if the internet is to be believed–is a popular (or at least common) way to take one’s tea in Japan. It’s an aquired taste, but why would anyone market a drink that’s an acquired taste? Isn’t a quick ramp-up time in the taste cultivation department sort of a primary criterion for business success? I don’t know how they do things in Japan but that’s my understanding of how things work in the U of S.

The language on the can talks of this concentrated flavor making it more healthy for the consumer, but I ask you, Josh: At what cost higher content of catechin antioxidants?

I drank about half the can, (not very much, given the small serving size) before my tongue staged a walkout. She’s mad at me now and I guess I will have to buy her some ice cream so we can be friends again. Yes my tongue is female, so what.

Inca Kola

Inca Kola (“The Golden Kola”) is like no kind of cola I ever had, but don’t let that deter you. It’s from Peru (where it’s more popular than Coke) and if history has taught us nothing else, it’s taught us that 27 million Peruvians are rarely, if ever, wrong.

It’s very sweet, which always wins points with me, with a very bubbly, light consistency. It smells like bubble gum, but tastes more like pineapple. Well, like a pineapple bubble gum, maybe.

I keep staring at that sentence, trying to think of a way to describe it that would actually sound appealing to anyone. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s much better than it sounds.

The Inca Kola entry on Wikipedia is a must-read, detailing how when Peruvians took the Pepsi Challenge, it basically ruined any chance Pepsi ever had of ever establishing a foothold there. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys a tale of a corporation becoming hoist on its own petard.

I dinged Inca slightly for the high fructose corn syrup, but otherwise, no complaints. I downed the can in no time flat and was despondent when it was over. I would love to see this more often in the states–it would easily become one of my regulars. I wonder if the Pepsi corporation is spending millions in Washington each year, lobbying Congress to bar Inca Kola execs from ever entering the country. Their ass is still sore from that last paddling, I imagine.

Naked Mighty Mango

Juice is completely a morning thing, right? I’m trying to think if there’s been a case of me being all “Man I need a fucking O.J.” at 3:30 PM CST (GMT -5), like, ever. The afternoon is typically when a gentleman’s thoughts turn to the sweet teas, the carbonated beverages. Anything with the zing and pep to drag your ass through the afternoon, until such time as you are able to crack open a frosty Bartles & Jaymes. Juice is too heavy those long hours, but taken ante meridianically, it provides the solid foundation for whatever else I pile on top throughout the day.

I brain-birthed all this science while I was drinking Naked’s Mighty Mango, because the first thing I thought of was “This would be good with some eggs.” The price-point on Naked is a bit steep, but if there was a cost-effective way to sell it in a big ol’ cardboard quart, I might be encouraged to make repeated pilgrimages to my grocer’s refrigerated section. It would make a fine substitute for the typical morning quaff (mimosas, vodka stingers, et al.)

Like most juices these days, the ingredients are a grab-bag of various fruits. Why is apple juice always the first ingredient listed on drinks like this? Is it a viscosity thing? Because I see it all the time, but it never really shows up in the taste department. I guess it gets buried by the orange, mango and banana notes. Here the orange was maybe a bit heavy; I would love it if they’d boost the mango power by about 5%, to give me the mango punch in the mouth I so richly deserve. But it’s a minor complaint. The banana is more of a grace note than anything, a whimsical little afterthought, like leaving a fiver on the dresser in the morning before she wakes.

In summation I would drink this for breakfast, along with perhaps some high-fiber cereal. On the weekends I like to mix things up with some Morningstar Farms brand bacon. As you know I am vegetarian.

Inko Lychee White Tea

Alleged health benefits aside, the recent proliferation of white teas strikes me as just another pointless marketing land-grab. At the slightest notion that there might be a percentage of the tea-drinking demographic willing to pay a few cents more for its bottled tea, every beverage company on Earth rushes in with the same product. Are there really people spending money on this? Are there white tea supplicants? If so I would like to meet them. I don’t believe for one minute they actually exist.

Inko’s Lychee White Tea basically proves my point. It’s one of nine (9!) white tea + [fruit flavor] teas they offer, and I can’t imagine there are people who care enough about each of the individual flavors to keep them in production. Can I get the sales figures on Honeydew, for instance? Honeydew is no one’s favorite flavor. It’s not even in anyone’s top 10. Honeydew is the parsley of the brunch platter. OK I’m not here to review Honeydew, fine. All I’m saying is that people who make white teas don’t care about your health, or about making an interesting product, they just want to flood the market, same as everyone else.

Out of the nine options, I picked Lychee because it happens to be one of my favorite fruits. Sadly, the lychee flavoring was very mild, hardly even making an impact. So Inko fell short on its major selling point right there, for me.

That’s not to say I completely hated it. It has the all natural ingredients going for it, so I tip my hat in appreciation there. It has the correct level of not-very-sweet-ness, with the tea flavor coming through pretty robust, not like that watered-down stuff you had the other day.

On the other hand, is white tea supposed to have its own distinct flavor? A la green tea? Because I didn’t pick up on anything here. It tasted like any other kind of tea. Am I in the wrong? Tell me if I’m in the wrong. I don’t want to fault it for not tasting like white tea, because there’s nothing wrong with being adequate. You of all people should know that. There was just nothing particularly memorable about it. Would I drink it over any major-label sugar-rush teas? Yes. Would I go out of my way to drink it, if there were other brands I hadn’t tried, standing right nearby? I’m shocked that you would even have to ask me that. Can’t you at least try to be interested in my feelings?

Metromint Peppermint Water

Lest you think I’m a hater, I want to remind you that I take great pleasure in things that are minty. After Eight’s, peppermint bark, Mojito’s, you name it. I’m still sad about the fact that I haven’t been able to track down any Sprite Ice yet. What I’m saying here is that I like–am predisposed to liking, even–things that involve mint. So when I ran across Metromint, I was intrigued and thought, “Hey, maybe that’s my up my alley.”

But it wasn’t. It’s bad.

It’s really bad. It’s bad like the poetry you wrote in high school. It’s bad like Pitchfork’s review of Travistan.

Metromint tastes like you’re brushing your teeth. Take the flatest, most plastic-tasting bottled water you ever had (i.e. Klarbrunn’s), and then mix in half a tube of Crest. Does that sound like a good idea? Does that sound like something you’d enjoy?

The problem (I’ll just pick one big one, to save time) is that the mint flavoring is fairly heavy, and works cumulatively. With each sip, your mouth gets further and further into Scope territory. That is not a place you want to go. That’s not refreshing. That’s not the land of taste sensation.

I’m purposefully trying to keep this review kind of dry. I could be a lot meaner, but if I do that, then everyone will get curious and run out and try it for themselves. And I don’t want that. Firstly, because I care too much about you, and secondly because I would really like this company to go out of business as soon as possible.

Metromint is absolutely to be avoided, except by people in secret societies and college fraternities, who could maybe work this into their hazing rituals. I wish their inductees only the best of luck, and the strongest of stomachs.

Izze Sparkling Grapefruit

I like things that emit the scent of grapefruit. It’s a very clean aroma. You know I have that thing about washing my hands. Too bad there isn’t a soda made from eucalyptus, which actually has very cleansing properties. Oh man, can you imagine if my two obsessions, soda and cleanliness, were somehow combined. Total sigh. Anyways what was I talking about.

The first thing I did when I picked up Izze’s Sparkling Grapefruit was check the ingredients for cochineal. You cannot be too careful with the pink- and red-tinged drinks. Izze came up negatory for fused ganglia: +1. Actually, things just kept getting better. The ingredients are all natural, which I love. (And none of that cutting corners by saying HFCS is natural, which it totally is not. Everything in this beverage is bona-fide and exists in nature.)

Taste-wise it’s not too sweet, because there’s no added sugar. The carbonation isn’t too heavy and the grapefruit taste comes through swinging like a gentle champ, not too sour at all. It’s a simple, uncomplicated drink, pleasant and light on its feet. Definite thumbs up.

It even took me out of my “review place” without me realizing it. Halfway through, I was just sipping away, working on other stuff, not taking notes or anything. I guess what I’m saying is that Izze Sparkling Grapefruit made me a better person, at least for a few minutes.


I just want to start this post off by asking if there’s anything more wonderful than that feeling when you’re standing in front of the cooler, scanning the labels, and you suddenly see a beverage that you’ve never tried before? I swear to god I get giddy. Like that time you actually responded to one of my emails. Just a delightful, unexpected moment.

I felt like that the other day when I found Zico, which I’d never even heard of. It’s basically juice from green coconuts, being marketed as an all-natural alternative to the Gatorades. It seems like they’re particularly selling it to people who do yoga. I don’t do yoga. I actually don’t do much physical exercise at all, but I do appreciate that there are companies actively trying to make healthier drinks, and am definitely down for anything that’s not all chemicals.

There are three different variants of Zico at the moment; I tried the one that was infused with a slight hint of mango.

I think it’s important when trying a new beverage to pay close attention to whatever your mind and body tell you with that first sip. That is the magic moment. My immediate reaction to my first sip of Zico was: It feels like someone just spit in my mouth. My second reaction was: I don’t think I can finish this.

Obviously it’s not very sweet, since there’s no sugar added, but that wasn’t the main issue for me. It had a really strange feel–(I can’t bring myself to use the word “mouthfeel”)–a warmness to each sip, even though I was drinking it cold, that creeped me out. I wonder if it’s the result of all the potassium and electrolytes they add to it.

The language on the box uses the word “refreshing” twice, but it was anything but. It was just not an enjoyable experience for me. My third thought was: I wonder if this might actually be good over ice, with some rum. An interesting idea, but I’m kind of lazy, as we established above, so, blah blah blah whatever.

Coke Blak

Alright. You finish adding all those entries from years ago that make me cringe and wish I was never born. I take it upon myself to trudge onward and add new content.I was pretty jazzed to hear about Coke Blak. Coke, of course, a traditional favorite, as is coffee, so I was curious to see what would happen when they got together and tried to make a baby. I, of all people, should have known from experience what nonsense babies get into.

Coke Blak is suprisingly gross. After the first sip, my brain went: “Really? That?” It suffers from the same problem that afflicts all the big [brand-name cola + vanilla/cherry/whatever] sodas: the additives are too chemical-y, too fakey. The coffee flavoring waters down the bite of the cola, without blending at all. Every taste the whole way through felt like the worst cup of coffee ever was just lying on top of the cola, totally lazy, unwilling to do any heavy lifting.
It’s just as well, because as you know I am terrifed of high fructose corn syrup, and HFCS is actually listed as the 2nd ingredient on Coke Blak. They might as well have called this “Coke Poisn.”