If you weren’t around in 1994 or had better things to drink than charcoal-filtered lager, you probably don’t remember Zima. Then again, how many other beverages have gotten an obituary?
A product of the clear drink craze, Zima was a massive hit for a couple years in the mid-‘90s but eventually fizzled out in 2008 for reasons including this gem from the Japan Times, the only country where it’s still available: “Many men avoided it as if it was bottled estrogen.”
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But where Zima was based on a passing fad, the thirst for new drinking options is real. People are dropping soda for sparkling water. And unlike in the time of Zima, which was malt-based, we are living in a post-gluten age. This week, those two ideas combined in a new drink, Truly Spiked & Sparkling, whose kick comes from fermented cane sugar (5 percent ABV) and is sweetened with natural flavors. Calorie-conscious drinkers will find only 100 calories, 2 grams of carbs and 1 gram of sugar per bottle.
Currently, it comes in three flavors: Colima Lime, Grapefruit & Pomelo, and Pomegranate. We tried the latter — it has none of the medicinal tang of Zima or the bitterness of vodka, and is pleasantly sweet without the need to dissolve a Jolly Rancher in it (not that anyone did that with Zima in college).
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Best of all, it’s not trying to convert beer drinkers like Zima did in this 1994 ad featuring a gaslighting bartender: