I hate it when you go out to a restaurant and all they have to drink is Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite. That’s all we serve at my restaurant. The royal triumvirate of boring sodas. It’s like I can just picture whoever started the place, they’re considering all of the locally selected ingredients for each carefully plated dish. And then right after they finish planning the menu, one of them says, “Oh wait, we forgot to go over beverages.”
Someone else goes, “What do you mean, like soda? Just get Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite.” And that’s it. It’s like there’s no imagination at all, not even the possibility that you might branch out even a step into the wider world of soft drinks.
And this isn’t anything against Coke. (I hate Diet Coke, but whatever, that’s not a fight I’m willing to pick, because people love Diet Coke, and so whatever, not my cup of tea.) I really do love Coke Classic. But I love cheeseburgers also. It doesn’t mean I want every meal to be a cheeseburger. Nor do I want every drink I have to be a Coke.
I just don’t get it, because there are so many more interesting sodas besides Coke and Sprite. How did we wind up as these two being the standard? It’s like ice cream, you’ve got vanilla and chocolate. Hot drinks, it’s coffee and tea. And for soda, you’ve got whatever flavor Coke is supposed to be and then lemon-lime.
You ever go to a restaurant and ask if they orange soda? Or Mountain Dew? You won’t even get a response right away. The waiter or waitress is just going to stare at you for a little while, to communicate as passive-aggressively as they can, are you kidding me? Are you seriously asking me if we have orange soda or Mountain Dew? Of course we don’t. Of course we only have Coke or Sprite. What the hell is your problem?
I know this because I’m a waiter, and I can’t stand it when people waste my time, “What kind of soft drinks do you have?” And what do I do? I don’t want to be a dick. I don’t want to be like, you’re an idiot, we only have Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite. But that’s all we have. Sure, I can mention unsweetened ice tea, I can throw in seltzer, but that’s it, everybody’s left deflated by the interaction. I don’t know what you were expecting.
But why is artificial orange flavor that much different than artificial lemon and lime flavor? Why is it socially acceptable to have a brown or a clear carbonated beverage in front of you at a restaurant while a green or a neon yellow one would make it look like you snuck out to Pizza Hut to order a soda to bring back to the table?
Cream soda, root beer, grape soda, Dr. Pepper, there are so many alternative soda flavors we could add to the standard restaurant drink menu to make everything more interesting. But no, you’re lucky if you go to a restaurant that has ginger ale.
Every restaurant by me, they proudly serve at least forty-five craft beers on tap. The wine gets its own telephone book sized menu. Bourbons, scotches, spirits, hold on, let me get the liquor manager to come over and give you a history lesson on single malts vs. blends. But soda? We’ve got Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite. It’s not fair. I love soda. I would love to have some variety when I feel like enjoying a sugary carbonated beverage.