Soda Blog posts are why I get up in the morning. Ok, maybe that’s just a bit too far, but it’s one of my favorite things to write about. I don’t drink the stuff as much as I used to, which means there’s an even deeper appreciation for the sugar, fizz, and especially getting to sample new flavors. For this edition, we’re examining a really special one, as any new variant of the world’s most famous drink is worth a closer look…
Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola was quietly released late February “nationwide” to most soda retailers. Winter is a weird time to release a soda spinoff, but the optimistic side of me says this was done to piggy back on the beginning of the NASCAR season, as they sponsor several drivers. I said “most” retailers by the way, as it was surprisingly difficult to find some for purchase while out for my weekend errands. On my third try I found the delightfully orange labeled bottles at my local Walgreens, as the two major convenience stores in town were no such luck. I had high expectations for this one, as Coca-Cola tends to be more cautious in their Coke releases in recent years, as the pain caused by New Coke still stings to this very day. Coke Freestyle machines offer so many unique combinations of flavors, it seems that they were waiting to pull the trigger to mass produce any “fan favorites” that bubbled to the surface. After all, the “Mezzo Mix” is apparently very popular, and with the popularity of Vanilla Coke in the US, this whole endeavor just makes sense. With my hard-fought bounty secured, I couldn’t wait another minute. As soon as I got home, it was time for a taste.
First Taste Test
For the initial run I set out a glass with ice for half of it, and the other half would be chilled but straight out of the bottle. Right from the turn of the cap, the smell is quite pleasant. It’s doesn’t smell like essential oils, but with the orange and vanilla hints it gave me a similar enjoyable reaction. The taste is not without merit as well. I was worried going in that Orange Vanilla Coke would be too sweet, as Vanilla Coke is right on the sweetness edge of being too gross for my palette. All the flavors balance nicely however and the final taste is something akin to a raspy orange creamsicle. I think Stewart’s makes a soda that could possibly compare to this…but the distinct coke richness and edge means I’m already hooked from the get-go. While this will probably be my summer soda of choice for 2019, I’m still not done with all of my tests. Not only am I a soda enthusiast, but I’m a hopeless inebriate to boot. Now, let’s answer the important question that everyone wants to know…how’s this gonna work in some cocktails?!
Orange Vanilla Coke Cocktail #1: Rum and Coke
Bacardi Oakheart and Coke is my favorite “highball” two ingredient drink. Any social occasion that was BYOB meant a bottle of each was in my cocktail case (I have a travel kit for alcohol drinking at friends’ houses, I’m so sorry you had to know that about me). With the unique little accent flavors, would this make my favorite cocktail even better? In a word…no.
It smells fantastic, and of course with all Coca-Colas having the same hue everything looked the way it was supposed to. The only trouble with this cocktail, however, was the taste! I took a sip and suddenly a stinging little aftertaste polluted my senses. At first I thought my mouth was just having an off night so I consulted my wife. As she’s not one to mince words she put it simply, “the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted.” Needless to say we didn’t pursue this much further, and as we collectively washed out our mouths with some Bactine, I figured most of the cocktail ideas I was going to try would make this a closed issue. However, something suddenly caught my eye inside my liquor cabinet.
“Wait, Triple Sec…that’s orange-y, right?” That means…oh yes…
Orange Vanilla Coke Cocktail #2: Long Island Iced Tea
As I mentioned in my last TehBen laboratories experiment with Mtn Dew, Long Island Iced Teas and I share a turbulent history. I don’t make them too often at home, but I have the recipe pretty well lodged in my mind. Using the classic “big 5” spirits with a little bit of lemon juice and simple syrup, all that was left was the traditional dash of Coke. Hopeful that we could salvage a cocktail with the Orange Vanilla I slowly poured it in and watched the slow cascade from clear to tea.
This drink fucking KILLS! The Orange Vanilla adds a lovely layer of complexion to an already complex cocktail. It’s clear that the new Coke flavor is meant only to be enjoyed in alcoholic mixtures as the final compliment, and not used as a base component. This one even passed the wife test as she enjoyed the one that I mixed up for her as well. It’s not a life changer by any means, but it sure is nice to meet up with an old friend and find something new to like about them. No, let’s not explore the notion of alcoholic drinks as friends any more, thank you. Instead, let’s wrap this up…
Verdict: Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola is the early club house leader for best new soda of 2019. Delicious by itself, over ice, or used as a very subtle mixer, the orange and vanilla flavors give just the right amount of sweetness without robbing from the unique taste of its classic counterpart. Pick some up, knock it back, and wait for Coke to mass-produce another great Freestyle Favorite. To my friends down in Atlanta, how about lime for the next one?
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It goes really well with Malibu or other coconut rum!!