I feel quite strongly that, if you drink Polar Seltzer, you have to pronounce it like you're from Massachusetts: "Pol-ah Seltz-ah!" (You know, like Welk-ah and Nom-ah*.) Headquartered in Worcest-ah, MA, Polar is as New England as L.L Bean and fried clams.
So as a former Boston resident and all-around Massachusetts booster, I was pretty excited to try Polar Seltzer's Christmas Flavors: Granny Smith Apple, Candy Cane, and—prepare yourselves—Eggnog. No kidding, Eggnog flavored seltzer.
When I learned they arrived via courier, I rushed to the Serious Eats office like a kid to the tree on Christmas morning. (A gift bag and everything. Merry Christmas indeed!)** But the holidays are never without disappointment, are they? The moment I removed a bottle from the gift bag, a childlike smile lighting up my face, Kenji snatched it away from me like a malicious older brother and lightly cracked the seal. As the carbonation seeped out, he inhaled it, like a 14-year-old with a whip-it.
**Disclosure: As is probably clear from the text, these seltzers were samples provided for review.
I knew what the Grinch was up to: he wanted me to arrive home with debubbled seltzer, hoping I would write a flat column as a consequence. The loyal readers of Serious Eats would scroll through my uninspired writing and say, "The Food Lab would have done better." But I'm not your average Kevin McCallister, ready to let Buzz push me around. ("Easy, creep, don't huff all my Polar.")
But onto the seltzah. As weird as these beverages sound, they don't taste actually taste that bad. The names are more indicative of aromas than how they truly feel in the mouth. The Granny Smith Apple has a Sour Apple Jolly Rancher flavor going on, not a terrible thing. The Candy Cane was my favorite of the three: minty and sharp, opening it is like running a candy cane under your nose. I can certainly imagine a shot of vodka (or three) in this guy for a little more holiday cheer.
As for the dreaded Eggnog? It's certainly not creamy, or eggy, exactly; if anything it smells (and somewhat tastes) like baseball card bubblegum. Which I suppose means nothing but "sweet" and "synthetic." It's not awful, but it is certainly strange.
None were terrible, and they certainly aren't nearly as offensive as other flavored waters I've had, which can taste like anything from aspartame to asphalt. The apple and candy cane really could work as a novelty for the holidays. And I would have a candy-cane vodka polar soda or two this Christmas Eve. (Maybe even leaving one for Santa.)
About the author: John M. Edwards, resident parasite at Serious Eats World Headquarters, recently kicked his fast-food habit to write about sugar water. Follow him on Twitter.