A few weeks ago, one of my coworkers asked me if I was going to be bringing Zima back. The topic of Zima had been brought up months prior, during a conversation between said coworker, our boss, and myself as an alternative drink to beer. As a current 26-year-old, Zima did not mean a whole lot to me. To be honest, it sounded like a virus carried by mosquitos, let alone something thirst quenching. Then again, as a youth, I swigged back the strange, green liquid known as Surge.
Well, after some friends of mine revealed their inner demons of drinking Zima in my online beer club, I just had to find out what this thing was all about. A couple days and five cases later, I brought home half a six-pack of Zima Clearmalt, having split it with my aforementioned coworker.
Some quick Zima history, skillfully excavated from Wikipedia. It was produced by Coors, debuting in 1993 as part of the clear craze alongside the coveted Crystal Pepsi. Zima means “winter” in Slavic. You can also rearrange the letters to spell Amiz or maiz or aimz or izma, which sounds like a Lovecraftian isle. It lost its popularity due to parody and likely because people realized they were drinking something called Zima.
Back to the present. I had three Zimas to my name, which is a bit more than the amount of money I have due to crippling student debt. It was time to pop one open and give it a whirl. I will say that the bottle design for Zima is pretty nice, with its ridges and stuff. I have also noticed that Microsoft Word recognizes Zima as a legitimate word, meaning that Zima has clearly (no pun intended) infected the lexicon of the English language.
This first Zima was popped in the shower, because I had rushed out of the house and did not have time to wash up. I smelled like a sweaty hog and intended to cool off with this strange, clear alcohol drink. The cap came off, I grabbed the bottle and took a drink.
Oh, wow, this was…this was pretty bad. I mean, this is what got people lit in the early 90s? The best way I could describe it was that it was basically Sprite with alcohol in it. Except you I could not really taste the alcohol with the overabundance of sugar in it. I mean, shit, I think I felt two cavities form while I was drinking it. And that is really it, I could not come up with any better ways to describe it. Disappointing can’t really be applied here, because I knew it was going to be shitty from the get go. I guess bland? Fetid is too cruel. It just kind of sucked, in that way that you know White Castle burgers actually suck but you don’t say anything about it in the act of eating them.
Now, word on the street was that you can add things to Zima to make it better. So far from what I have seen, Jolly Ranchers, Swedish Fish and Rose’s Lime Juice were the ones that stand out best for me. I consumed far too many Swedish Fish as a kid that I no longer had any desire to eat another one. So, I went with Jolly Ranchers and Rose’s Lime.
Fast forward about a week. I had spent the evening with a buddy who was on summer break from college and had him swing through a local 7-11 to procure some Jolly Ranchers. Upon returning home, I realized that I had neglected to put a Zima in the fridge. But because I am dedicated to this mad experiment, a second Zima was opened, as a was third put in the fridge to cool down.
I pondered my options with the Jolly Ranchers. Initially, I had wanted to go with watermelon, my favorite of the flavors. Then I thought that it would not pack enough flavor to counteract the would-be citrus of Zima. I am not a big fan of blueberry or green apple (I don’t know many people who are), leaving my options grape or cherry. I went with cherry because I thought it would boast the best taste.
Well, I dropped that candy in and did not realize it would turn my Zima into Old Faithful, because that thing geysered up for a few seconds. It was like a disappointing Coke and Mentos combination. After cleaning up, I grabbed my Frankensteined Zima, noticing a very distinctive crackling sound. I put the bottle to my ear and what I could only describe as the sound of a lit crack pipe was emanating from it.
By now, the Zima liquid had gained a reddish hue to it, making it resemble some kind of antibiotic medicine. It was time for a taste test.
Alright, what fools were drinking this in 1993? Maybe Jolly Ranchers have gotten less potent in flavor. The cherry flavor was not very prominent, it just helped to mask the shittiness of the Zima a bit. I opted to drop another one in. Is this what happens when somebody doesn’t think one ecstasy pill is enough, so they pop another one and realize later it’s a bad idea?
At this point, I have noticed that the Jolly Ranchers were gluing themselves to one side of the bottle, oddly enough the section where the Zima label was. The candies were disintegrating down and filling the clear liquid, so it looked like a petty shark attack. Somehow I had made the drink taste even more artificial with the added candies. Probably up to four cavities now…
I finally arrived at my last Zima experiment. This one has a shot of Rose’s Lime Juice in it, a quality mixer used for much better alcoholic beverages. I must say, despite the juice giving it an odd pale green color, this one probably tasted the least horrible. The lime juice actually gave it a little bit of a twang. Not a lot, but enough for it straddle the line of passable and weed killer. Not saying I was rushing out to grab another six-pack, but it might make your experience a bit better.
So what did I learn from my Zima trials? Not a whole lot. I already knew consumer drinkers had bad taste in 1993, but I suppose this reinforces it. I am certainly glad I was not one of the “cool kids” back then, seeing as I was a baby and not very cool to begin with. It was an obvious gimmick and thankfully this limited release is a gimmick too. Though I am wondering if the gimmick will pass before the expiration date on the bottle. Then we will see if Zima will die another slow death.