While perusing one of the many quirky little tourist shops that dot the small towns along the western coast of Michigan, I found a massive collection of boutique micro-brew soft drinks, or "pops" as they are known in the local vernacular. As a guy who drinks soft drinks the way others drink wine, this represented a golden opportunity to branch out a bit from the usual assortment of alternatives to the major brands that can be found in supermarket chains across the country. Your IBC Root Beers and Mexican Coca-Colas are better than the usual fare, but just not quite the hipster style that lights up my face.
As a small treat for myself, I lined up four promising candidates and had a little soda tasting event for myself in the hotel parking lot the last night of vacation. While the kids were invited to the party, they were exhausted from a day of roller coaster rides and turned in early. That left me sitting in the dark on a concrete parking divider looking like a weird tee-totaling wino complete with glass bottle lineup. It wasn't the classiest night of my lift, but sometimes you just have to make due.
Spiffy Cola is a nice light cola with a clear, smooth caramel taste. A little too light in taste, it could use a heavier undertone to its flavor. It's made with cane sugar instead of the near-ubiquitous corn syrup used in soft drinks these days, but somehow winds up tasting too sweet with the same lack of refreshment one gets from canned major sodas. While Spiffy Cola would make for a great mixer with a clear rum and heavy dose of lime, it doesn't stand well on its own.
This brand of cherry cola fills the void left by the Big Three Cola companies. My favorite of the four selections, this cherry cola is heavy on the cherry syrup and tastes more like a classic grenadine cola from a bartender than any other bottled cherry cola I've ever tried. It certainly nails that particular flavor better than any of the major bottlers.