It's no secret that the soft drink business, with its high margins and cutthroat competition, adds a number of tempting new products each year. Inevitably, some of them will be come new favorites, and others will quickly go the way of Crystal Pepsi if consumers aren't quick to take the bait. Modern consumers are accustomed to plenty of sweet in their beverages, and the beverage-makers quest to make ordinary, life-giving water more palatable without the added baggage of calories and other dietary no-no's seems to take an almost infinite number of forms as beverage companies tweak and test their formulas to attract the right consumer segment.
Enter Cascade Ice. The folks at Unique Beverage Company of Everett, Washington, we kind enough to send us a few samples of their product for review. It may surprise some that even food writers have their addictions to "non-cuisine" products like Diet Pepsi, but we decided to break the addiction for a day or two to give these interesting sparkling waters a try. A quick social media post of the slender bottles as they arrived in their box quickly generated some engagement. Some friends were already tried-and-true fans who were fast to name their favorite flavors and show enthusiasm for the flavors they had not yet seen in their local store. It's interesting to note that everyone who engaged with our posts about Cascade Ice were women, which suggests the target demographic fits that of other "skinny" beverage products.
Two of the flavors, Cosmopolitan and Margarita, are designed to be used as cocktail mixers. We enjoyed them both on their own and with the suggested mixers. Cosmopolitan is just fine as a beverage on its own, a nice blend of orange and cranberry that doesn't lose anything with a splash of vodka. The Margarita, however, almost begs for a shot of tequila for a bit of color and a hint of sweet, and we were more than happy to oblige.
The other three flavors (Coconut, Pink Grapefruit, and Lemonade) were also enjoyable and, well, refreshing. We deliberately abstained from our usual Diet Pepsi habit while substituting Cascade Ice to determine whether our "soft drink pangs" were sated (the jury is still out on whether soft drink addictions are physical or psychological) and we found that the product fit nicely as a replacement; we even found ourselves wanting more of the Pink Grapefruit after we'd finished it.
The beverages have the typical diet drink aftertaste, although veteran diet drinkers will not find anything out of the ordinary, flavor-wise. The nutritionist in us, however, still recommends that you do your best to balance any flavored drink or fruit juice with a good amount of plain water for balance. When used in place of traditional mixers, or as a substitute for higher-calorie items, Cascade Ice is a refreshing change to the normal line-up of beverages during the holidays or for everyday enjoyment.