Sigh… boring Saturday afternoons… I know these all too well. They can be nice (they're a good time to catch up on my reading, to hang out with friends, etc.), but what do you do when friends are busy and reading just doesn't sound appealing at the moment? The internet saves the day again!
I was visiting one of my favorite blogs (x-entertainment) and I came across an entry from last Christmas on non-alcoholic cocktails from an issue of Better Homes and Gardens, an issue from the 1960s. The author went on to make each one of the cocktails and comment on whether they're worth making or not. Interesting entry, it was, and it got the old wheels turning. Why not try my own crazy cocktails?
I took some of the elements from the original cocktails and invented some of my own. I assaulted my taste buds so you don't have to assault yours.
I was very careful to give every drink a fighting chance. I used a different plastic cup for each concoction, a different spoon to stir each (in case traces from the last clung to a spoon) and I took a drink of water between each to cleanse my palate. Each drink had every opportunity in the world to succeed or fail. They rise and fall on their own.
I made sure all these drinks were non-alcoholic, so all of you can try them if you want, regardless of your age. You're welcome.
In buying everything for this little culinary experiment, I spent eight dollars. I did all this for you! Hope you appreciate that!
So, with all that, away we go...
I wanted to start with something simple and something I thought would be guaranteed to be good: cranberry juice with some lemon-lime soda (I used Shasta Twist here, which is not my favorite; maybe that affected some of these, but I don't think so). That's one thing I learned: NOTHING is guaranteed. Even two wonderful things aren't always wonderful when they're together.
I'm no good with "two parts water, one part juice" and stuff like that, so I went for the easy approach: half and half. Looking back, I think I poured in a little too much cranberry juice, which may have accounted for something. More on that later.
I stirred it up and took a swig. The moment of truth…
HOW'D IT TASTE? Not great. It tasted really like cranberry juice gone bad. It had a lot of the tartness that cranberry juice had, but the lemon-lime flavor neutralized the flavor of the juice and added nothing of its own. Basically, all I had was a cup full of tart, nasty-tasting carbonated water. I had worse during this little venture, but I had much better.
WHAT WENT WRONG? A few things, I think, two being my fault (I admit it, I'm not perfect. Shocker, I know). Problem one: I don't know what "half" means, apparently. I filled about two-thirds of the cup with cranberry juice, then looked in and thought, "yeah, that looks okay." This is why I barely squeaked by in math. Anyway, the flavors were unbalanced, so the drink had the cards stacked against it from the start. Problem two: I kind of stirred half-heartedly. I was so excited to taste what I thought would be magnificent, a gastronomical delight, that I got a little over-excited, so, not only were the flavors not balanced, they weren't mixed very well. Problem three: not all matches are made in heaven. Lemon-lime soda and cranberry juice were never meant to be together.
Undaunted by the bad experience of my first go (and braving the truly horrible taste of my tap water), I pressed on to…
THE V8-LIME TWIST
Speaking of matches made in hell, how 'bout this one: V8, a drink I already hate on its own, mixed with Shasta Twist? Yeah, don't ask me what I was thinking, 'cause I don't know, either. This one was doomed to failure.
The first bad sign was when I opened the can of V8 and took a whiff. I almost barfed. That's not hyperbole. I almost took off for the bathroom. I recovered though, and, cringing, I filled the V8 to about a fourth full (I was drinking as little of that stuff as possible). I filled the cup another fourth with soda. I stirred the stuff thoroughly (I had learned my lesson) and took a drink.
HOW'D IT TASTE? Awful. Truly awful. It's what you drink in hell. It's not quite barf-inducing, but it's close. The tomato of the V8 totally overpowered everything but the lime in the soda, and lime and tomato doesn't suit my palate. I couldn't finish it; I poured it down my sink drain.
WHAT WENT WRONG? Writing is great therapy, and it helps me realize a lot of my faults. I realize that I was totally the wrong person to judge a drink like this, hating one of the main ingredients with a passion. I'm not much for vegetable drinks of any kind, so this drink was going to die from the start. I don't know, maybe those of you who like Bloody Marys and the like may like this. If this sounds like it may be your thing, try it, by all means. You can have it; I'm never trying this again.
Okay, after recovering, I moved on to:
I know the name is horrible; making fun of it is free game. This one was born of necessity; I was originally going to mix ginger ale and orange juice (one of my friends had told me that this was good), but I couldn't find any ginger ale. I wasn't about to buy a two-liter bottle for this experiment, and I wasn't about to drive someplace else just to get a one-liter bottle of ginger ale. Why is there NO PLACE in my town that sells small bottles of ginger ale?
You still there? Okay. I'm done ranting.
Anyway, since I couldn't find any ginger ale, I just closed my eyes and pointed at a soda, and, lo and behold, it was Concord Grape. I grabbed it and walked away. I was happy. Grape and orange? It didn't sound too bad to me.
I filled up the cup half-and-half (for real this time), stirred well, and took a drink.
HOW'D IT TASTE? Pretty average. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. I could taste both flavors, but they didn't really mix, per se; it was more like the orange was trying to cover the grape, but was failing in places. It wasn't horrid, but it wasn't something I would drink often, or hardly at all.
WHAT WENT WRONG? I wouldn't say anything really went wrong in this case, it was more like nothing went really right. I worked hard to balance the flavors, stir properly, cleanse my palate and so on, but still the drink kind of fell on its face. I think it's just another case of two flavors being incompatible. Not all matches are meant to be (I'm just now realizing how much this experiment taught me about relationships).
We're almost done, I promise. I moved on to the fourth and final cocktail:
THE CITRUS MEMORY
This title probably means nothing to you, but it means the world to me. I invented this drink (or most of it) when I was nineteen. I was going through a really hard time during that period of my life, and being depressed constantly was draining my energy. Desperate for sugar, I looked in the fridge and didn't want anything in there, so I pulled out a few things at random: grapefruit juice, limeade, Sierra Mist and lemonade. I mixed them together, and guess what? It was good! Every day when I came home for at least a few months, I had a glass of the stuff. This drink means a lot to me; it helped me through a hard time in my life, a little bit of happiness in a life that, for a brief time, held very little. If that makes me silly or stupid or sentimental, so be it, but that's the way it is.
When I thought of this project, I knew I had to revisit this old friend, and I set out to re-gather those old ingredients (today is the first time I've bought limeade since those old times). It wasn't until I got home that I realized I had left out one vital ingredient: the grapefruit juice. I figured it was okay, because I pretty much always have the stuff in my fridge. Three guesses as to what wasn't in my icebox. I was disappointed, but then I got over myself and chose something else to take its place: the grape soda I still had left over from the previous cocktail. I poured it in, mixed it up.
Grape soda, limeade, lemonade and Shasta Twist doesn't make for an attractive drink. It looked a little like gutter water, which is not something you want what you're about to put in your mouth to look like. I pushed past the looks, however (I'm not shallow), and took a drink.
HOW'D IT TASTE? Wow. Talk about nectar of the gods. Not having grapefruit juice turned out to be the best thing that could have happened; the grape flavor kicked this drink up to another level. All the flavors blended together perfectly and tasted good together. Delicious stuff.
WHAT WENT RIGHT? I have a sneaking suspicion that this situation may be the flip side of the situation I had with the V8-Lime Twist; I'm too biased to judge this one fairly, as well, because I'm too close to it emotionally. Laugh if you want, but it's true. However, I wouldn't have liked this if it didn't taste good, trust me. I would tell you if it was awful, you can believe me. This stuff is an amalgamation of some flavors that go well together. Do yourself a favor and try it. You won't regret it.
This turned out much longer that I expected. Wow. This is the product of a boring afternoon turned kind of fun and exciting and deadly (V8, there's still no love lost between us). Let's end this story with a moral: you never know what'll go over well, so try anything! Put things together! Take chances! That's what makes life worth living!