Cane sugar has been gaining on HFCS lately. Dr Pepper admitted that high-fructose corn syrup is a shoddy sweetener when it turned Lawyer Pepper on its Dublin, Texas bottler. And tonic makers have created a new market from the knowledge that gin mixes with corn syrup like gin goes with police checkpoints.
We decided to do a little research on the difference between beverages made with the two sweeteners. It would not be a contest if I compared American corn syrup Cokes with Mexican sugar Cokes, so I decided to make it a more interesting three-way battle with the inclusion of Jarritos Mexican Cola. I'm a fan of other Jarritos flavors--Mandarin Orange, Grapefruit, and Guava--all made with cane, not corn. I tasted the three colas plain, with rum, and with rum and lime for Cuba Librés.
When tasted plain, the Mexican Coca-Cola won handily. The sugar vibrates mildly on the tongue, while the American Coca-Cola dulls the taste buds, like an ultra-thin layer of liquid cotton. The Jarritos tasted like a cola, but had an extra taste, sort of fruity, like a child had mixed up several different soft drinks (a "suicide") and poured a little in the cola. Jarritos placed third.
Next came rum and Coke. The addition of Flor de Caña Gold Rum complemented the extra taste of the Jarritos, moving it into second place behind the Mexican Coca-Cola. The American Coke fell to a distant third. The "Real Thing" was beginning to look real pathetic.
Finally, I sliced a Persian lime into three equal parts, muddled them in separate glasses, and added rum, cola and ice for Cuba Librés. The lime juice accentuated the mystery fruit flavor of the Jarritos, and produced a completely different drink flavor, which I'll call a Mexico Libré.
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The Mexican sugar Coca-Cola won again, but the lime juice and lime oil cut through the unctuousness of the high-fructose corn syrup, to the point where the difference between Mexican and American Coca-Cola, at least in Cuba Librés, is negligible.
Jarritos Mexican Cola can be found in the international aisle of Kroger. Sugar Coca-Cola, in classic glass bottles, can be found there, too, but not on the regular Coca-Cola shelf.