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[Photo: Dave Katz]

It's funny how, when a product is widespread enough, it seems to taste only like itself. Kraft Mac 'n Cheese, for instance? The orange goo isn't particularly cheeselike; it just tastes like blue-box mac. Oreos don't really taste like chocolate or vanilla; they taste like Oreos, twistable and dunkable.

And Coca-Cola doesn't really show the distinct spicy, citric, vanillla notes that cola originally had. It just tastes like Coke.

Which is fine. But what about something a little closer to the original intent? That's how Q Kola, the makers of Q Tonic, are marketing their new soda.

And it's pretty accurate. On first sip it's lively and acidic, sharp and herbal, and not too sweet up front—before the caramel and vanilla notes kick in, for a smooth, sweet finish. Warming notes of cinnamon and cloves share space with coriander and citrus oils. It's a honey-caramel brown, as opposed to the murky nearly-black of a Pepsi or Coke. And like Q Tonic, it's crisp and quite dry, with less sweetener than many. An eight-ounce bottle has only 70 calories—and at that dainty size, it's already Bloomberg-approved. Maybe it's just the resemblance to their tonic, but we found ourselves thinking that it'd make a good mixer. A Cuba Libre, say, would be drier and more acidic, less sugar-on-sugar.

Anyone tried Q Kola? What do you think?

About the authors: Carey Jones is the senior managing editor of Serious Eats. Follow her on Twitter (@careyjones). John M. Edwards writes about soda, occasionally writes about fast food, and eats 85% of the food Carey orders. Follow him on Twitter (@johnmedwards).

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