Back in 1996, when its beverages could be found in places other than the refrigerators of esoteric bookstores, Clearly Canadian tried to reach out to the youth market with a wonderfully inventive drink called Orbitz. This was the short-lived carbonated water with weird gelatinous balls suspended in it. The colored orbs swirled around the drink, neither floating nor sinking thanks to their perfectly calibrated density. In the mouth they could be popped with the teeth, mashed with the tongue, or simply swished down the throat. Many people hated it and the drink was soon discontinued, but I thought it was awesome. I was also fourteen at the time. Ever since Orbitz’ untimely end, I have yearned to find a similarly exciting concoction. Something light, bubbly, refreshing, and full of texture. In short, the ultimate beverage.
I’m still waiting to find it. In the meantime, though, I’ve found a close approximation in the Asian aisle at the local supermarket: Assi brand aloe vera juice. I’d never encountered this before and, after hearing a negative review from a fellow barista, kept it on the shelf for a few weeks. Then on one thirsty night I cracked the bottle open and took a sip. And it was good. It’s sweet, light, slightly syrupy, and goes down smooth. Best of all, though, is the texture. The drink has little bits of aloe plant suspended throughout, ready to be popped in the mouth like tasty little flavor balloons. I poured some in a wine glass and placed it in front of candlelight so you can see them. Billy Joel’s “Just the Way you Are” was playing in the background. It was a very romantic moment.
It’s even Agitator approved. Radley says, “It should be gross, but it’s not.”
Aloe vera juice is pretty healthy, too. Just 1g of sugar per serving. That’s a lot better than the average soda, for those who care about such things.
So why isn’t this the ultimate beverage? I have to reserve that title for something with carbonation. I need bubbles! Something with the fizziness of ginger ale, something that tickles the nose and makes the tastebuds dance a jig. Perhaps an Orbitz champagne with strawberry flavored orbs would fit the bill. Alas, the terrible failure of Orbitz may have poisoned the idea of floaty ball drinks for years to come. For now, I must continue to enjoy aloe vera juice for near-ultimate refreshment… and seduction.
[Cross-posted on The Agitator.]