1893 Original Cola
By Bill Lau | Potable Pastime
Cola made with kola nut extract, dark brown malt flavor, touch of aromatic bitters, sugar, & sparkling water.
I was intrigued when I saw this in the store along with its ginger cola companion. Might it be more like the original formulation, when such beverages were made with medicinal ingredients and touted as health tonics, I wondered? The name and description certainly pointed towards this being more than simple flavored and caramel-colored sparkling water and corn syrup or sugar, so I figured it was worth a try.
Now, I’m not a huge soda drinker these days, though I did grow up with Pepsi as it was my dad’s preferred soft drink (not counting stopping at the A&W drive-in for a frosty mug of delicious root beer goodness), so that’s what we got for the most part; although I do have fond memories of choosing other sodas as well as Pepsi from the vending machines that had the small glass bottles, with the bottle openers affixed to the front of the machine. (If you were really lucky and the temperature was set just right, you’d pop the cap and tiny ice crystals would instantly form in your bottle. Not dense like slush, but just enough to make it the most refreshing beverage ever!)
While I’m reminiscing about childhood soda drinking, I would be terribly remiss if I failed to mention the most excellent lime soda from local Milwaukee favorite American Soda Water Company. They offered an extensive array of flavors, which they sold in wooden crate cases from their warehouse (located on Loomis Road as I recall). That lime soda was one of my all-time favorites. Jarritos is the closest I’ve found in recent years, but it’s just not quite the same.
Anyway, getting back to today’s subject, I’ll give you an overall summary of my impressions and tasting notes and dispense with the usual ratings I provide for beer reviews. And I’d be interested to hear what your reaction was if you’ve tried this or the ginger cola.
Pours out a dark, typical cola color with auburn highlights when held up to the light. Aroma similar to regular Pepsi-Cola with that distinctive kola note and caramelized sugar, but there’s also a faint note of malt. Not as overtly sweet as the regular version with a more complex flavor profile. Kola, caramelized sugar, malt, and aromatic notes blending roots, herbs, and a touch of bitterness flitting through. Not so much as to be medicinal tasting, but reminiscent of a light tonic water character blended in with the cola.
Overall reaction – I like it! A more adult style of cola to be sure. I’m not one for using cola as a mixer, but would consider trying this one in a mixed drink sometime.
I also tried the ginger cola and found it to be quite enjoyable.
Disclosure: The author has received no reimbursement or compensation for this article. All opinions and remarks are those of the author alone.