Cult New England brand Polar seltzer stands alone in its longtime practice of releasing seasonal, limited edition and holiday flavors. I reviewed last year's summer seasonal flavors and decided that this carbonation witchcraft is right up my alley, dedicated lifelong seltzer addict that I am. But this new round takes the ambiguous term "natural flavoring" to a whole new level. Break out some ice and possibly some vodka, the winter 2014 candidates are in.
Ever sucked on a strawberry-flavored hard candy that didn't first befoul a poor defenseless glass of champagne? Thankfully the strawberry flavor in Strawberry Champagne, which happens to be natural, is bone-dry (extra-brut, for sparkling wine aficionados) without a hint of sweetness, lingering aftertaste or champagne. Back to that strawberry hard candy. If you were a fan of those before your taste buds evolved to reject cloying artificial flavors, you might actually like this clean-finishing seltzer.
Despite the colder weather, everyone eagerly awaits clementine season, where a 5-spot will buy you a sack of the sweet-tart little citrus fruits. They're as festive as they are useful for warding off the winter plagues. It can be assumed that Polar has the cranberry flavor down pat, as it's one-half of one of its most successful flavors: cranberry-lime. That slightly bitter, sour fruit note comes through crisp and clear, although the slightly darker orange label isn't fooling me: the citrus component is the same as their Mandarin Orange flavor. Still, I'll be breaking this out to "celebrate" the first snowstorm with an anti-depressant round of vodka sodas.
Digging the label art, even if the ginger component is represented by random leaves. In their defense, the last time I tried to draw a piece of ginger root, it didn't go well. Thankfully the ginger doesn't have to be on the label if it doesn't want to, it's definitely in the bottle. Upon opening, you're rewarded with the sweet fragrance of freshly-opened ginger beer that sticks around for a dry, subtle and very natural herbal ginger flavor absent of the "soapy" notes ginger flavoring can often impart. There's just the faintest hint of apple, which I recognize as Polar's Granny Smith, despite the apples on the label being red and my insistence on pointing that out. Overall, this is surprisingly delicious and a good option for ginger ale or beer fans looking to slash calories. Don't make a Moscow Mule with it, though, you won't be happy. Just take an awkward shot of rum and maybe chase it with this.
Bergamot, eh? Alright, let's get our Earl Grey on! Okay, not smelling any bergamot. And it tastes like sweet blackberry candy, not unlike that time I drank a bottle of watery Snow White perfume from Toys R Us about 22 years ago. It SMELLED GOOD! ::sneeze:: That's an odd reaction to seltzer. Let me try again. Okay the sneeze was a fluke, but I'm still getting Snow White perfume nuances, albeit not saccharine or overly flavor-dosed. I actually wouldn't mind smelling like this.
(pours a little Cranberry Clementine into the sample glass)
Toasted Coconut Créme
Eeew, coconut seltzer. Why? The last time I tried a Polar coconut flavor it tasted like sunscreen, and that at least had some pineapple notes to distract from it. This one appears to be straight up. Smells like sunscreen…and a little plastic. Tastes like …somehow this tastes exactly, precisely like toasted coconut flakes, with the added benefit of also being seltzer and containing no créme. And that's it. Fizzy, unsweetened coconut flakes (and bottom notes of the bottle they've been sitting in, under pressure, for a time). While I can't think of a use for this, it's not entirely offensive. I'd rinse my hair with it, for sure.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go to the ladies room.
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