Pepsi 1893 Review: It Tastes Great and is Good for You
It was a nightmare scenario: I was deep into a doggie playdate on the other side of town, when all of a sudden I felt the insidious tentacles of a migraine curling their way behind my left eyeball. I popped some Excedrin and made my one play to head off a migraine.
"Do you have any caffeine? Anything with caffeine." I tried to sound as helpless and pathetic as I could without listing off my GPA, BMI, or current employment prospects.
"That's funny you ask. We never have soda in the house but I just picked up a few cans this morning."
My cousin pulled out of the fridge what appeared to be a RockStar Energy Drink. It was a skinny, tall, black can. My heart sank.
"Uhhh...nevermind," I said without any attempt at politeness. "I don't drink energy drinks." (If I was going to die - and at this point, that felt like a welcome inevitability - I was, like William Wallace, going to die with integrity.)
"No, it's not RockStar. Oh, I'm sorry, maybe you thought my home was actually a frat house. We don't have any Jaegerbombs, either." My cousin's disgust reassured me. "This is Pepsi's new hipster soda."
He handed me the long, skinny can. Blessedly ice cold. Definitely not RockStar. I took a hesitant sip.
And then the heavens parted. I'm not sure if it was because of the Excedrin kicking in or just a coincidence, or maybe I had a case of existentialist angst and not a migraine. But I choose to think that this throwback Pepsi formulation was a throwback to the time when soda was medicine - because after a few sips, those migraine tentacles withdrew.
Guys, this is just really good.
Pepsi 1893 is a soda for grown-ups. It tastes a little bit like Coke-and-Captain Morgans, in a good way. 1893 is darker and less carbonated than Pepsi and the flavor is a lot less sticky-sweet. It might not be "bold" as the can proclaims, but it is complex and thoughtful.
It also proves once again that (like rattlesnake bites or alligator sausage) everything tastes exactly like you imagined it would. If you imagine riding your velocipede down the unpaved streets of the East Village, checking your pocket watch, waxing your mustache, and ordering a handcrafted soda from your friend Alyosius - that's exactly how this tastes. Which is to say, it's exactly as my mixologist-cousin described it: Hipster Pepsi.
The font, the ingredients list, the spelling of "kola" - everything about this is targeted at the hipster market. It reeks of old-timey handcrafted artisanship. It sparkles with "authenticity." And in case you actually care (I think you do not) there is a charmingly maternal logo on the side proclaiming that the sugar is fair trade. Whew!
Perhaps this is why the 12 oz can costs $1.79 - if you can even find it, because apparently it's in limited distribution. It's currently available as a 12-pack on eBay for $50. On Amazon.com it's between $3-5 a can. If you can find a case, buy it, and then either drink it or sell it on eBay.
The texture is very smooth, and the flavor is very malty. It doesn't leave that weird aspartame flavor in your mouth, and isn't corn-syrupy "light up every sugar receptor in your tongue" either. I actually think the smell is the best part - it has "aromatic bitters" blended into it, and it has a vaguely exotic smell of star anise, clove, and an aftertaste that's, oddly - but very pleasantly - root beer-ish.
I normally like to include a mixed cocktail recipe here, usually with the help of aforementioned mixologist cousin, but I'll make this easy:
Old Timey Sodey
1 can 1893, ice cold.
There, either drink it or add a shot or whiskey or rum and drink it. That's up to you. But I really think you'll like it.