Uh oh – it looks like a new CRANBERRY SODA has entertered the arena!
I’m leaving “entered” misspelled because this was already a shitty opener.
There it is. Sprite Cranberry. Joining mainstays like Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash and Cranberry Canada Dry, Sprite Cranberry’s arrival involves a pretty severe overuse of the word “cranberry.” I mean jeez.
The lack of color is a real issue for me. Clear cola is Sprite’s gimmick, but we’re dealing with CRANBERRIES this time. You don’t hear the word “cranberry” and think about the fruit, or the sauce, or my weirdly-named long-dead hamster. You think of the COLOR. You imagine a swatch of deep red, or a less gross version of the elevator scene from The Shining.
Cranberry without the red is like orange without the orange. Orange minus orange equals zero, and so, by this logic, I have paid $1.79 for a two-liter bottle of nothing.
Now here’s where things get confusing.
Or more confusing, depending on where you landed with my orange math.
From smell to taste, I didn’t detect much in the realm of “cranberry.” I wouldn’t know how to describe the odor as anything but “Sprite-like,” while the flavor read as “subdued regular Sprite with a hint of bitterness.”
It wasn’t BAD, but I didn’t prefer it to the existing cranberry sodas.
…but then I realized that the Sierra Mist and Canada Dry varieties didn’t scream “CRANBERRY” either. They smell nice and they taste nice, but their connection to the fruit is mainly in color.
In the end, we are all Pavlov’s dogs.
The photo above compares a glass of Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash to a glass of Sprite Cranberry. Tasting one right after the other proved that even if I didn’t like Sprite Cranberry as much, it mostly boiled down to how red the soda was.
Moments after this, I poured a glass of the Canada Dry and compared that to the Sierra Mist. “Red versus red.” I had to admit that the odors and flavors really weren’t miles apart.
I’m not saying that there aren’t differences. Of course there are. I’m just saying that “color” is the biggest difference. We taste with our eyes, too.
My preferred order is as follows:
In first place by the narrowest of margins is Cranberry Canada Dry. It makes me think of blankets and fireplaces.
An extremely close second is Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash. It’s very red and I like the word “splash.” Plus, there’s lots of emphasis on limes. I’m all for lime emphasis.
In last place is Sprite Cranberry. It is not red at all.
Hours later, I got an idea. What would happen if I mixed all three cranberry sodas?
The result is in that paint-stained Mason jar. It’s one part Canada Dry, one part Sierra Mist and one part Sprite. And it’s garnished with raw cranberries.
I call it… CRANBERRY CANADA SPRITE MIST.
It’s fucking awesome, and I’m not just saying that to curse. It tastes like fruit punch spiked with tonic water, which is about as close to “cranberry” as artificial flavors can get. Truly incredible, and I will swear that on the memory of every dead person I know.
Or maybe I just like drinking from a Mason jar?
(That’s definitely it.)