I’ve been a Coke fan (in preference over Pepsi) for many years now. China’s the first place where I’ve experienced a truly new twist on its classic taste.
Today, in a simple Beijing restaurant next to Tiananmen Square (motto: “What tank treads?”), I ordered a Hot Coke Ginger Lemon Drink. I confirmed twice, thinking that I must misunderstand the menu, then absolutely had to order this most creative of drinks.
As promised, it was Coke, but served boiling hot, having had fine threads of ginger cooked in it along with a few slices of lemon. Coke, ginger, and lemon are, I’m happy to report, three great tastes that taste great together. It was truly the most creative preparation of Coca-Cola I’ve ever been served. (Coke, for those of you keeping track, averages 200+ 8-oz. servings per American per year. The American Dental Association should positively own stock.)
The concoction was served fresh, with the hot Coke still fizzing. One must consume it within the first few minutes of its production lest its inherent fizzy-ness be lost in scalding heat. The ginger added delicate treble notes to the Coke’s slothful, sticky alto; the lemon added carefree highlights at the onset and retreat of the main melody.
I’m told by the waitress that it’s quite a common drink in China. I suppose by “common” she means “you could spend six months here without ever hearing of it.” She claims that it’s often had during colds as a way to clear the sinuses. All Chinese school kids no doubt want to get sick, and often.
The folks at Coca-Cola Enterprises are probably delighted by this development, which hearkens back to the early days of Coke in the 1900’s when its traces of cocaine were billed as revitalizing to the health.
All it needs is a clever name, like those of most alcoholic drinks, where the name guarantees half the success. How about something enigmatic and insider, conveying a chummy sense of knowing camaraderie whenever it rolls off the tongue, like “Moses Simpson Coronary?”
Coke. Enjoy. Always. Now, piping hot with ginger and lemon. At your local Beijing restaurant. Ask for it by name.