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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Taste test: Fest Soda

Posted By on Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 12:42 PM


The New Orleans area is blossoming into something of a local soda hub, giving the likes of Big Shot a run for its (overly saccharine, Kool-Aid colored) money.

The latest addition to the pack is Fest Cola, a line of four sleekly designed sodas that have New Orleans-themed flavors and names. Bottled locally and sweetened with Louisiana cane sugar, their aesthetic is clearly aimed at a teenage and twentysomething crowd. The soda's website is plastered with slogans like, "Big boring colas are highly fruct up" and "If you have to suck, use a straw."

Each soda is named after a New Orleans cultural touchstone, creating an individual identity within the larger brand identity for each of the drinks.

Behind the snark and well-crafted branding, though, what do the sodas actually taste like? Here are my findings, complete with a bubbly ranking scale. One bubble indicates a soda that falls flat, while ten bubbles is a soda with near fizzy lifting drink-level perfection.

"Flambeaux" soda: This riff on the classic orange Creamsicle drink is marketed as "satsuma mint" flavored, combining a favorite fruit of the city with the freshness of mint. The soda is lighter and bubblier than many of its orange soda counterparts, and the herbal aftertaste of the mint operates almost like a palate cleanser. It's one of the most drop-by-drop enjoyable orange sodas to simply sip on its own, due in large part to the well balanced nature of the citrus and creamy sweetness.
Score: 8/10 bubbles

"LuLu" soda:
If you've ever wanted to age a carbonated beverage in bourbon barrels, this bourbon cream soda might be as close as you'll ever get. With a smoky, cigar-like aftertaste and oaky finish, it seems like the kind of drink kids would enjoy in a treehouse while pretending to be adults (candy cigarettes not included).
Score: 6/10 bubbles

"Bamboula" soda:
While an almond-flavored soda might seem like an excuse to get a liquid marzipan fix, the Bamboula (thankfully) avoids this pitfall. The clean, lightly vanilla-flavored taste of the soda makes it the best candidate of the bunch for serving as a cocktail mixer, particularly with rum or, perhaps, scotch.
Score: 5/10 bubbles

"Papa Joe" soda:
A kicked-up root beer, this pecan-tinged drink is rich without being cloying, and has the kind of buttery taste afforded by the South's favorite nut. While whiffs of the soda may indicate a typical root beer spice, lovers of a tongue tingling sarsaparilla-style kick might be sorely disappointed by the soda's more subtle taste. The soda also quickly goes flat.
Score: 7/10 bubbles

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