Pot Luck

A Cooler Coke: Leninade

Each Tuesday and Thursday for the next few weeks, we'll be taking a look at alternatives to cokes for the sticky Houston summer that lies ahead

Yes, that's right. Leninade. According to the bottle, it's "a taste worth standing in line for." And that's not the only pun the kids at Real Soda have come up with for their latest product...

All along in the bottle in pale yellow sans serif font, strikingly reminiscent of Soviet propaganda posters, are one-liners like "A party in every bottle" and "Drink, comrade, drink! It's this or the gulag!" They're worth an easy -- if small -- laugh. Remember Communism? That was funny 'cause it was a long time ago! seems to be the entire schtick here.

But I found one of the slogans to be more than just lazily funny. It was a bit misleading. "Get hammered & sickled!" it reads across the top of the Soviet symbol.

Hammered? Perhaps if there were alcohol in this -- a hard Leninade, if you will -- but the only thing you'll find in this soda is water, sugar and mostly natural flavors. I was vaguely annoyed.

Until I spotted one of the final one liners in a very unexpected place.

Where one would normally expect the sell-by date or other such manufacturing stamp to be was the old joke: "Is he Putin us all on?" I laughed in spite of myself.

I once met Vladimir Putin on an elevator. In a gym. In Waco. I'm quite serious about this. He was an extremely intimidating man in person, very good-looking and much shorter than I expected. He had an entourage of armed guards with him, and I frankly have no idea why they crowded onto my elevator instead of waiting for the next one. But isn't that always how you meet famous people? In the most unremarkable yet bizarre of circumstances?

Given Russia's immense efforts to distance itself from Communist ideology (but isn't it more of a rebranding, really? let's be honest...), I doubt that Putin would be thrilled to know that his name was associated with a punny lemonade from California that pokes fun at Lenin and Marx (what, no Stalin?). But maybe that's why I like it.

As expected with a name like Leninade and the shockingly pink color of the drink, it tastes like pink lemonade with just light carbonation. I really enjoyed it, especially with the Texas Turkey sandwich I picked up from Spec's deli section. It's a light, fun summer drink to be served with a wink and enjoyed with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Bonus: Check out Real Soda's website if you're feeling nostalgic for the days of GIF-overloaded Geocities sites. It's almost like owning a time machine.

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Katharine Shilcutt