REVIEW: Canada Dry Vanilla Bean Bold Ginger Ale

Canada Dry Vanilla Bean Bold Ginger Ale Cans

According to Canada Dry’s description, Canada Dry Bold is “Maybe the boldest ginger ale ever created.” I can verify this is false because (a) I once made my own ginger ale and didn’t strain the ginger out before drinking (I’m simultaneously ambitious and lazy), which made for a VERY bold beverage, and (b) Canada Dry Vanilla Bean Bold definitely hits me harder than the regular Bold did. The boldness of the homemade experiment was expected, but Vanilla Bean Bold surprised me.

It comes in a six-pack of 7.5 oz mini cans, which I don’t normally purchase because while adorable, it would take all six to equal the volume of soda I prefer to drink.

I cracked open my first tiny can and gave it a sniff. Initially, it didn’t seem like there was much there besides a slight cream soda smell, and taking a sip confirmed the cream soda vibe. I poured the rest into a Christmas-themed cup because this is a limited winter edition, after all, and this is when things got a bit more dramatic. I took a giant whiff and was startled by the amount of pepperiness in my nose.

Canada Dry Vanilla Bean Bold Ginger Ale Cup

If you drink this stuff in anything more than small doses, it really is significantly bolder than you expect out of Canada Dry and an upgrade on its first Bold attempt. If you were suffering from the kind of ailment that would typically have you reaching for ginger ale, I don’t know if you’d be pleasantly surprised that you can really taste this variety or irritated because you’re already unsettled and now someone’s gone and dumped wasabi in your cup.

The brown and cream can with its subtle twinkly design has a retro feel that makes sense with the cream soda and ginger ale flavors. These are things I’d drink during winter break visits to my grandparent’s house, which makes me feel like a kid. What makes me feel even more like a kid is the fact that I can’t stop sticking my whole face in the cup for the next big sinus-clearing inhale or taking overly large gulps to experience the spicy sensation in the back of my throat. It’s not just a drink. It’s fun. You could sip on this slowly for a more mature drinking experience, but why would you do that when you can take the more thrilling route? Go bold, people.

Canada Dry’s website makes no mention of Vanilla Bean Bold, but it does give you instructions on how to combine all of the other (non-reindeer) varieties with booze. I guess they see themselves as more of a mixer than a standalone drink? I mixed this with whiskey, which was perfectly acceptable, although it surprises me to say that I think I like it better on its own.

I am genuinely enjoying how this edition takes things a step further than Bold ever did. Is it possible that the addition of vanilla is what really gives this soda its spicy kick? Some types of vanilla beans have spicier notes, so perhaps there’s something about that in play here. There has to be very little actual vanilla bean or ginger in the formula, so I might be giving Canada Dry too much credit. But whatever they did, it works. The vanilla inclusion not only makes sense for the holidays but makes for a richer overall flavor. I don’t love it so much that I need it around all year, but it succeeds in bringing something new to the usual cranberry winter soda market.

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: Six-pack of 7.5 fl oz cans
Purchased at: Jewel-Osco
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Nutrition Facts: (7.5 oz) 90 calories, 0 grams of fat, 30 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 22 grams of total sugars including 22 grams of added sugars, 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: ZOA Energy Drink

Zoa Energy Drink Cans

I will watch pretty much anything with Dwayne Johnson’s name attached to it, so I guess I will also drink anything with Dwayne Johnson’s name attached to it. Because here we are with me trying out the Original and Original Zero Sugar versions of an energy drink that he helped develop.

Well, it’s not as if he didn’t put on a sleeveless lab coat and helped formulate energy drink samples in his trailer between Fast & Furious takes.

ZOA is available in several flavors that I’m too lazy to look up. I decided to go for just the Original and Zero Sugar Original versions because if these are bad and I bought every variety, I didn’t want to experience the spectrum of horribleness, even if it has Mr. Johnson’s name on them.

But I’m happy to report that these are okay. I know that’s not a glowing endorsement, but flavor-wise there’s nothing unique about them.

Zoa Energy Drink Glasses

If a flavor dictionary existed, the “energy drink” entry would taste like this. Remember when energy drinks first started getting popular and brands were popping up everywhere, and most of them tried to emulate Red Bull’s sweet medicinal flavor? Well, these taste like something from one of those brands. Not exactly like Red Bull, but something Red Bull-esque and less cloying. Also, the sugar-free version (sweetened with sucralose and ace-K) tastes better than the one that has sugar. The Original one has an unpleasant extra medicinal bite at the back end that’s a bit off-putting.

So if these taste like energy drink’s early years, what separates this from others, besides possibly being formulated using Dwayne Johnson’s arms as an industrial mixer? For one, it’s marketed as a “healthy” energy drink.

What does that mean?

Well, I’ll just copy over what it says on the ZOA website. It’s made with Camu-Camu berries and Acerola Cherries that provide 100% of your daily Vitamin C and antioxidants. Branched-Chain Amino Acids are added to help with muscle growth, electrolytes are included to keep you hydrated, and choline is in them to boost metabolism. Vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B12 are also included. Finally, it uses natural caffeine, which means it gets it from green tea and green, unroasted coffee beans.

Cool?

Original and Original Zero Sugar ZOA Energy Drinks are decent tasting ways to get 160 milligrams of caffeine into my body. But I’d probably only repurchase the sugar-free one again. Also, because they aren’t horrible, I’m curious about the other flavors.

Purchased Price: $2.49 each
Size: 16 fl oz cans
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Original), 6 out of 10 (Zero Sugar Original)
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) Original – 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 200 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 23 grams of sugar, 22 grams of added sugar, and 0 grams of protein Zero Sugar Original – 15 calories, 0 grams of fat, 200 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Monster Energy Ultra Watermelon

Monster Energy Ultra Watermelon Can

Monster Energy Ultra Watermelon confuses me.

With fireworks on the can and it being watermelon flavored, which is known as a summer flavor, it’s odd to be drinking this in mid-October instead of on the fourth day of July. It’s like eating pumpkin spice products in June.

Some of you might be thinking this was released in the summer, but it wasn’t. It’s showing up now, in October.

Although, maybe Monster is trying to be sly here. The fireworks aren’t for Independence Day. Instead, they’re for New Year’s Eve. And watermelon was chosen because of the fruit’s colors, not because of its flavor. Because red and green, which are prominent on the can, are two of the primary Christmas colors.

Or maybe Monster Energy is trying once again to outdo its competitor, Red Bull, by releasing its watermelon flavor earlier than Red Bull did. You see, this year, Red Bull’s Summer Edition Watermelon rolled into stores in February, which, according to a calendar, was still winter. Which means there was still spring to go through before summer rolled around. By releasing this in October, it means we have to go through THREE seasons before we get to next summer.

Or maybe Monster was supposed to release it during summer but decided not to for some reason.

Anyhoo, Monster Energy Ultra Watermelon is the next Ultra flavor in the Ultra line, which is getting ultra long.

Monster Energy Ultra Watermelon Closeup

When I sniff the beverage, it smells like I’ve just added hot water to strawberry Jell-O gelatin mix. Its flavor, well, I really hate to use this comparison because it’s the most commonly used one when describing artificially flavored watermelon beverages, reminds me of a Jolly Rancher Watermelon hard candy. But, I also occasionally notice a bit of artificial strawberry in the aftertaste.

I haven’t tried the Red Bull I mentioned earlier, so I can’t compare it. But this energy drink is super tasty and has a pleasant level of sourness. Although, I wish it was a bit more unique than something I’ve experienced with many other watermelon products. I’m no food scientist, but maybe it’s hard to deviate from the ingredients used to create the fruity flavor.

Like the entire Ultra line, it’s a zero sugar energy drink. Also, the artificial sweeteners aren’t really noticeable to my taste buds when it’s chilled.

Overall, Monster Energy Ultra Watermelon with its 150 milligrams of caffeine is another excellent variety in the Ultra line. And I can totally see myself drinking another on a warm fall, winter, spring, or summer day.

There’s also a Monster Rehab Watermelon flavor. Click here to read that review.

Purchased Price: More than anyone should pay
Size: 16 fl oz can
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 10 calories, 0 grams of fat, 180 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, 2 grams of erythritol, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Starburst All Pink Strawberry Drink Mix

Starburst All Pink Strawberry Drink Mix

What is the Starburst All Pink Strawberry Drink Mix?

When I think of pink drinks, two notable ones come to mind – Pepto Bismol and the Starbucks Pink Drink, which I always hear people talk about but never see anybody order. Joining the ranks of these two bubblegum-hued beverages, Starburst’s new All Pink Drink Mix promises to transform this candy’s most popular flavor into a sugar-free, family-sized, and chuggable delight.

How is it?

If nothing else, the box certainly was right in describing this drink mix as “All Pink.” It’s so pink that I’d say this stuff actually gives Pepto Bismol a run for its money.

Starburst All Pink Strawberry Drink Mix Closeup

Color aside, I think we all can agree the more pressing issue at hand is how this stuff tastes. Does it adequately emulate Starburst’s fan-favorite flavor, or is it more similar to every other strawberry drink mix on the shelf?

After unearthing a pitcher big enough to mix up one of these gallon-portioned stick packs from the dark depths of my kitchen cabinets, I didn’t find this mix to be reminiscent of either of those things. It’s much too sweet to taste like actual strawberries – which is okay, I suppose, since fruit-flavored-candies hardly ever taste like real fruit either. The problem here is that I found this to be too sweet to come close to Starburst’s take on strawberry. Maybe it’s the cloying blend of artificial sweeteners at work here, but I thought this tasted closer to aspartame-sweetened cotton candy than it did to strawberry Starburst.

Is there anything else you should know?

For what it’s worth, Mars, who owns and manufactures Starburst candy, doesn’t make this mix. Instead, this drink mix is licensed and produced by Jel Sert, who seems to specialize in cooking up branded drink mixes that taste nothing like they’re supposed to.

Conclusion:

Although I’ve choked down water enhancers worse than this, I can’t imagine anyone ever wanting to buy it in a family-sized bulk box like I did to write this review. On the bright side, though, at least the internet seems to have plenty of recipes for Starburst-themed mixed drinks to give me some ideas for how to use the other seven stick packs I’m stuck with.

Purchased Price: $7.96
Size: 4.34 oz. (8 packs)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1/11 of a stick pack) 5 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Mtn Dew Liberty Brew

Mtn Dew Liberty Brew

What is Mtn Dew Liberty Brew?

Honoring all fifty states Dewnited under the Dew Nation flag, this limited edition brew promises to do its country proud by packing each bottle with 50 different flavors and enough Blue #1 to put Old Glory to shame.

How is it?

Much like shave ice in Hawaii, which you can mix and match all kinds of syrups, it’s hard to decipher where one flavor in Liberty Brew ends and another begins. If I had to pick, Blue Raspberry is probably the most prominent one of the bunch, but everything’s so blended together that it’s hard to pick any individual taste out.

Mtn Dew Liberty Brew Glass

Lacking the slight citrus-lime punch featured in regular Mountain Dew, Liberty Brew somehow seems even sweeter by comparison, and no aspect of it made me want to finish my bottle. Actually, it kind of reminds me of a melted Blue Raspberry ICEE, just without the disappointment of anticipating a frozen treat and finding out the machine is broken.

Is there anything else you should know?

This is a drink best enjoyed in one sitting. Despite the cap, it gets flat pretty quickly, and I thought it began to taste unsettlingly close to cough syrup once it wasn’t fizzy anymore.

Conclusion:

Despite its distinctly patriotic branding, I’d skip on offering Mtn Dew Liberty Brew at cookouts and gatherings this summer. Just stick to buying the original stuff.

Purchased Price: $1.88
Purchased at: Walmart
Size: 20 fl. oz.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Nutrition Facts:: (1 bottle) 280 calories, 0 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of sodium, 75 grams of total carbohydrates, 75 grams of sugars, and 0 grams of protein.