Something Interesting to Drink: no alcohol
It is no secret that I do not drink alcohol. Never have. This personal life choice, which shouldn’t be such a big deal, has a surprising impact on my life. No, it hasn’t help me avoid a series of bad choices as I make those quite well while sober, but other things like making me the rugby team’s all time designated driver, countless corporate happy hours where you answer the same silly questions over and over and over (because drunk people think this is interesting and charming) but the biggest effect this teetotaling has had on me, is limiting my options regarding interesting beverages.
For a period of time some friends and I took matters into our own hands, and we got quite good at it if I may say so, but it was not sustainable. I need other options.
For Christmas I want something interesting to drink.
Before I dive into a list, let me point out a site for soda reviews that is unparalleled in breadth and quality: Five star soda. They are good. You can trust them.
Now the list:
Blenheim Ginger ale is always number one for me. It is a bit too hard to find but its burn your face off spiciness is worth the effort. Solid number two is Absinthe soda (made by Saiteaux). Tastes like liquid black licorice and I LOVE it. Then as you move down the soda spectrum just keep in mind super sweet is not my thing, but spicy or tart usually works. Blood orange, lime, clove, birch, anise, lemon, ginger, raspberry, etc. etc. If in LA, go to Galco’s.
Drinking chocolate, dark and spicy. You know, Mexican style with chili and cinnamon. The darker, spicier, and thicker the better.
I love yerba mate. I drink it mostly unsweetened, preferably through a bombilla from a gourd and in a group, but solo from my matermo is just fine. I like the taste but even more I like the equipment and the process. My default setting with most foods or beverages is to go too fast. Mate makes me slow down a bit. This is a good thing.
Don’t go to Whole Foods or some place similar and pay $25 for a 2lb bag. Find a latin market and buy a 5lb bag of Rosamante, CBSe, or Taragui for $10. Or, pretty much any mate anything from gauchogourmet.com
Just steer clear of a six pack of Diet Coke.
MILK: and Macarons…. Oooooooh Macarons
I’ve been to MILK twice, once on a weekday, the other a weekend, and on both occasions the line stretched out the door. I haven’t been to Disneyland but I hear they have the same problem over there. I also hear that just as at MILK, the waiting is worth it.
They make Nutella ice cream. How can you argue with that? They make and sell all sorts of baked goods, sandwiches, cupcakes, and pretty much whatever it is that you hadn’t thought existed but once you do know- you need it.
For instance, macarons. I have heard of macarons. What I had not considered was making ice cream sandwiches out of macarons. what I had also not considered was a lime hibiscus and clove soda. I now love both of those things.
Going to MILK every day is not an option for me, and not recommended for anyone. Not recommended in the same way that gluttony, overindulgence, and food abstinence are not recommended.
Of course taking recommendations is not recommended… unless it involves macaron ice cream sandwiches and lime, hibiscus, and clove soda.
Credit Where Credit is Due: Pop ‘n Sweets
I have not been know to look for nice things to say about Provo Utah. Not wanting to be a generally negative person I have often kept my mouth shout when wanting to say bad things about the place. I find myself now in a position where I have no choice… I must praise the place. Or at least I must praise one place that is in that place.
They have nice story about how they came to be and who owns the place but that doesn’t mater much in this case. This candy and soda shop could have been founded by the devil and it would still be worth the visit (incidentally the devil has been outlawed in Provo so it couldn’t have been founded by him).
Long story short, they have soda. All kinds of soda. Soda on tap, Soda from Austria, Soda that’s funny, soda that is sophisticated, a lot of soda. I like that. They have candy too but I’m not so much into wasting calories on that when there is a red capped Blenheim ginger ale to be had.
Or perhaps a mate mojito? A birch beer maybe? Whatever your flavor grab one and have a seat at the counter or in a booth.
This place was good enough that I wanted to hang around… in Provo. I want to go again… to Provo. I can’t believe I ‘m typing this. I’m being forced to shift my fundamental belief system. My foundation is crumbling.
Crumbling into a sweet, fizzy, bubbly, wonderful pool of soda.
Galco’s: Heaven is Carbonated
If we are all good boys and girls we will one day be presented at the pearly gates and be allowed to enter. For those who are still lost and wallowing in iniquity, the pearly gates are located at 5702 York Boulevard in Los Angeles California. The whole Saint Peter thing is really just a myth, the gates are actually guarded by a guy named John Nese… and he lets everybody in.
That right there is a grizzly bear, St. Peter, and a groveling soda supplicant. I can testify that there is no better place on this terrestrial planet to grovel for carbonated beverages. This is because if a soda exists, Galco’s Old World Grocery stocks it. He does not put it in a glass display case or on a nice tablecloth, just stocks it.
Now make no mistake not all sodas are created the same. Some are completely unfit for human consumption, or, are simply unremarkable and don’t merit the trip. Others are deservedly the desire of pilgrims and sojourners world wide. Blenheim for example is worth scaling Everest. But you don’t have to because Nese stocks it.
Ever heard of Almdudler? I hadn’t either but I’m not from Austria and it is. They have it at Galco’s and it tastes a bit like a flowery lemonade.
How bout MacFuddy Pepper Elixr? Despite its domestic origins I had never heard of such a thing but the promise of spice was too much to pass up. It disappointed. But I blame my imagination rather than the beverage.
Did you know they make a cinnamon and rose soda? No? Well that’s probably because they don’t. But my kid did at Galco’s. If they don’t have what you want there you can make your own. If it exists, ever existed, or you wish it existed. You have to make it to heaven.
Old Town Rootbeer Company: Temecula, CA
My co workers were all happy to be spending the weekend in wine country. I was curious about his whole wine country thing, I’ve never been to there, but I wasn’t exactly excited. Words like Cabarnet Sauvignon at a dinner table normally mean I will spend the dinner not participating in conversation. It is amazing how much people talk about wine or alcohol in general.
I know nothing about such things and consequentially have little to offer such conversations. This was on my mind as I turned onto Temecula’s main street with its old timey western storefronts.
The usual suspects were all there: trading post, art gallery with pastel Indian feathers, rootbeer shop.
Wait… rootbeer shop!?
I ran an old woman off the sidewalk as I illegally parked the car and ran inside.
“Yes.” I said out loud when I stepped inside the door.
“Pardon? May I help you?” a tie dyed bearded kid asked.
“Yes. Just yes.”
Olde Philadelphia, Virgil’s, Cheerwine, Kutztown, and Blenheim.
Upon seeing that last one I may have teared up just a little.
“I’ll take six of those.” I ordered then started looking around.
They have it all and then have just a little bit more. The place isn’t huge, its a little more pricey then I would hope, but it is the best reason for a Mormon to drive to wine country I have ever seen.
Happy New Year, Blenheim Ginger Ale Style!
Kala brand beverages are getting harder and harder to find. Why?
Because the proprietors and craftsmen who brew these fine beverages are renaissance men on dark ages budgets. We three explore, develop, and learn, and then have to provide. We are not upset, it is a choice we make willingly.
Where is a Medici when you need one?
Just know that should you want some, your best bet is to find yourself at an event where Kaleo, Dalyn, or Preston are in attendance. BE warned, these are very exclusive engagements.