The Aisle of Soda @ Bestway (GSO)
Bacon soda. Peanut-butter-and-jelly soda. Buffalo-wing soda. A flavor called “Martian Poop.”
Everybody knows about the Wall of Beer along the refrigerated side of Bestway in Greensboro’s Lindley Park neighborhood. Lesser known is the soda aisle just a few yards away, with an entire side comprised of soft drinks, two-thirds of the territory devoted to sodas, half of that ceded to the slew of companies that have positioned themselves against the giants like Pepsi and Coke.
There’s old-school Boylan, Dr. Brown’s and IBC flavors next to new-fangled concoctions like dandelion and burdock or rose lemonade from Fentiman’s, 10 kinds of ginger ale and ginger beer and a platoon of root beers, birch beers, butterscotch beers and sarsaparilla.
Beermakers Saranac and Abita have root beers on the market. And a special Bavarian nutmeg edition of Virgil’s microbrewed root beer in a commemorative, resealable bottle runs about the same price as a pretty nice beer.
I brought the Virgil’s home in a brown paper bag, chilled it in the freezer for a bit and then shared it with my 12-year-old. The taste is unbelievable, with notes of wintergreen, vanilla, clove, sweet birch, molasses and, at the finish, licorice and anise.
After taking his first sip, the 12-year-old gave me a serious look.
“Where did you even get this?” he said.
Kava @ Common Grounds (GSO)
Commons Grounds coffee shop prides itself as being the only business in Greensboro to offer pre-made kava tea. Kava allegedly possesses non-narcotic, sedative chemicals in the same vein as benzodiazepines — it’s basically the opposite of coffee. Common Grounds mixes its strained kava with hazelnut and vanilla syrups, as well as some almond milk, to soften the slight bitterness of the root tea, but you can get it straight-up if you’re used to the taste.
Wall of drinks @ Super G Mart (GSO)
You can get anything and everything from the drink aisle in Super G Mart, including Brian Clarey’s favorite aloe drink to milky beverages to fruit juices. And from the rainbow of drinks, we picked some of the most uncommon.
A go-to summer drink for Japanese kids, Ramune is a sweet yet slightly bitter soft drink prevalent during the summer season and is a hit during festivals. The beverage is as emblematic of summer in Japan as hot dogs are here and the taste is only half the fun. To open the glass bottle, you have to take a “plunger” that comes with the drink and push down a glass ball that drops from the bottle’s spout, clogging the soda so you have to drink it skillfully and slowly.
- Yeo’s Sugar Cane Drink
Probably our least favorite of the bunch, my boyfriend claimed that it made him feel like he was “drinking syrup or something.” The Malaysian sugar-cane drink is very mild and tastes slightly of caramel. It’s basically sugary water.
- Chiao Kuo’s Lychee Drink
It’s Taiwanese and it tastes like lychee. Enough said.
- Luzona’s Guyabano juice drink
This one was a nice surprise. Based on the name and the picture, we didn’t know what to expect from this prickly fruit drink, but the Filipino guyabano juice is very light and fruity, making it an excellent summer drink. Some even say that it cures cancer.
- Sangaria’s Melon Soda
This one, like the lychee drink, is exactly what it sounds like. Also Japanese, it’s just an alternative to mainstream sodas.
- Calpis’ Calpico
“Oh I like it! I like this a lot,” was my boyfriend’s reaction after taking one sip of this Japanese classic. While it’s coloring may be off-putting to some, this milky “sports drink” tastes sort of like a non-carbonated milky Sprite. It is another summer favorite in Japan.