Wednesday, July 29, 2009

through early morning fog I see

There's a whole category of beverages of which I'm a big fan, in which two things are mixed together. I'm not talking about cocktails here, but more or less equal proportions of two beverages, sometimes alcoholic, often not.

My awareness of it all started with suicides, when you take a cup at the soda fountain and hit every nozzle until you've filled your cup with a mix of everything.  Jeff Noon has a terrific short story about that sort of thing.

Then there are shandies -- yet another food word that sees a lot of variant usage, but generally half beer, half soda of some kind. European thing. The Europeans also give us half-Coca-Cola, half-lemon-soda; and half-Coca-Cola, half-orange-soda (available premixed as Mezzomix, which is really kind of awesome stuff).

THEN you've got calimocho/kalimotxo/etc., a blend of red wine and Coca-Cola, which from what I understand is mostly popular among teenagers -- a wine culture version of sorority staple Diet Coke & vodka, maybe, though in theory I love the idea, even if the hangover prospects afear me.

I am maybe the world's only fan of iced coffee (black no sugar) and Coca-Cola, which is one reason why Coke Blak did so poorly (a terrible 90s-style name, the use of both artificial sweeteners and sugar, and top-shelf pricing didn't help, and I don't blame you if you suspect Bialystock and Bloom shenanigans). I mean, there's a whole subplot in my culinary intellectual biography that spins out of combining coffee and Coca-Cola, and breaking Coca-Cola down to its constituent flavors (kola, vanilla, lavender, various spices, citrus), most of which are already combined with coffee on a regular basis, and then pursuing the coffee-orange combination which I first encountered through "Cubic Scoops" ice cream as a kid. It was alternating bits of coffee ice cream and orange sherbet. I'll probably have a whole coffee-orange post sometime. But what works about coffee and Coca-Cola, see, is that if you get the proportions just right -- use little enough coffee that the resulting mixture is still noticeably fizzy -- the coffee dilutes the sweetness of the Coca-Cola without overpowering its flavor profile.  It's really a remarkable synergy.

But my favorite of all this stuff is yuanyang. Half tea (strong, with milk and sugar), half coffee.  Hot or cold.  Doesn't matter.  Black tea, green tea, doesn't matter, and though I usually use Luzianne's family-sized iced tea bags, I also love it made with genmaicha (green tea with toasted brown rice).


  1. I remember Cubic Scoops...Sealtest, was it? I also loved orange sherbet with tiny chocolate chips. Must be inherited from Grandpa!

  2. Sealtest! You're right. I've been thinking it was Hood, because I forgot all about Sealtest. They seem to have disappeared in the years when I was living outside the northeast.