People love their Mountain Dew Kickstart. The original Orange Citrus and Fruit Punch flavors have surpassed $150 million in retail sales since their introduction in 2013. Positioned as morning beverages, the key selling points can be found right around the neck of the can: caffeine—92 mg per 16 ounce can—5% fruit juice, and electrolytes. Since things are going so well, Pepsi decided to take Kickstart to the p.m. with new Black Cherry and Limeade flavors. What makes these new drinks more suited for nighttime than their siblings, other than the marketing campaign? I couldn't tell you.
If you're gearing up for a big night, and you have to decide which can to crack open, I say go with the Limeade. It's not quite as crisp as a traditional lemon-lime soda, but it's pretty darn good. The flavor is more lime-y than Mountain Dew-y, and the drink has a surprising amount of body. It's sweet, but not overly so.
As for the Black Cherry, it's a tricky business. On the first sip, I got a hint of that cough syrup flavor all too common to cherry-flavored candies. As I had more, a deeper, richer cherry flavor overtook the medicine. Because it has a lower amount of carbonation than traditional Dew, I found it to be smoother than my favorite black cherry soda, more like juice. Not actually like juice, mind you. Just more like it.
I read all the packaging's references to "nighttime consumption" as not-so-subtle hints to try Kickstart with vodka, replacing Red Bull. So of course, that's just what I did. The winner there was Limeade, for sure. Mixing Sobieski with the Black Cherry Kickstart only brought out the medicinal taste, and it was pretty gross. The Limeade, though, I could see that being a thing, as it's just strong enough to mask the booze.
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