Like many Wesleyan students, I love seltzer. A lot. I go for Polar every time I enter WeShop; Classic Lime is my favorite, though I relish anything with a citrus twist. I purchased two 12-packs the other night, and if struggling up four flights of stairs to my HiRise with 144 fluid ounces of vaguely fruity carbonated water isn’t the epitome of healthy living, I don’t know what is.
Imagine my excitement, then, when upon a Sunday seltzer run with friend and fellow Head Layout Editor, Emma Greenfield ’20, I discovered the new Winter Limited Edition flavors of Polar seltzer: Ginger Lime Mule, Vanilla Zen, Cranberry Cider, Hibiscus Cloudberry, and Blackberry Clementine. I immediately purchased five liters of seltzer. I would say my friend was horrified, but she also struggles with seltzer addiction.
I started with Vanilla Zen. Vanilla never struck me as a particularly enticing seltzer flavor, but Polar’s Orange Vanilla convinced me otherwise, as it tastes exactly like an orange Creamsicle. Needless to say, I was optimistic about another vanilla iteration. I don’t know what “Zen” is supposed to taste like, but with an Orgo quiz, a journal club presentation, and a studio art midterm due on Monday, I needed all the Zen I could get. I cracked the lid on a walk to Indian Hill Cemetery. The bottle prominently features a design of what looks like a pomegranate, a flavor decidedly not found in Vanilla Zen. Instead, the seltzer tasted vaguely like bubblegum, and drinking one liter felt equatable to chewing an entire roll of Hubba-Bubba. The fall foliage at Indian Hill, combined with my acutely saccharine nostalgia, made me feel strangely calm. Vanilla Zen, indeed.
Next came Blackberry Clementine. Polar’s website promised a “jam-licious wonder” for which I was particularly excited. As someone who ate a 32-oz jar of strawberry rhubarb from preserves co-op entirely by herself, anything described as “jam-licious” is inherently appealing. Sadly, I was disappointed by Blackberry Clementine. The flavor tastes just like Polar’s Mandarin, distinctly lacking any notes of blackberry. Not bad, but not exactly worthy of a limited edition. Just another citrus like lime or lemon. Very standard.
Ginger Lime Mule was delicious, though I confess my love for the inspiring cocktail might impact the partiality of my review. Walking into Organic Chemistry on Tuesday, I dropped the bottle on the ground, and in the frenzy of trying to find a seat in a nearly-packed Shanklin 107, I forgot about my bottle’s little tumble. Not two minutes into the lecture and a spritzing flurry of flavored water spewed over myself, my notes, and my unhappy classmates as I mumbled a hasty “sorry,” and wiped the seltzer off my desk with my sleeve. I was a little sad to lose a fair portion of my new favorite flavor, but I guess the taste made up for the mishap, so it all balanced out. If I concentrated hard enough, I could almost convince myself I was drinking a zesty Moscow Mule at nine in the morning. My sleeves stayed soggy for the remainder of the class.
Cranberry Cider confused me the most. The scent was fruity and inviting, but the taste oscillated between a sweet apple-y tang and the biting coat of cherry cough syrup. I assumed I would eventually make up my mind about whether I loved or hated Cranberry Cider, but no final judgement ever came; every sip surprised my senses. No seltzer better fit the mood of the time I drank it–during Election Night, in a delirium, watching votes tally and House seats flip just like my taste buds as I sipped the strange flavor. I mourned the loss of Beto and harassed an acquaintance in LoRise with my wails of despair. He didn’t vote, so I guess I felt like he deserved it. At the end of the night, I was exhausted. I didn’t finish the bottle.
Hibiscus Cloudberry was pleasantly floral. In accordance with my luck, I also sprayed half the bottle on myself on the walk from HiRise to the CFA, another disappointment since Hibiscus Cloudberry was my second favorite flavor. There was only one person walking behind me to witness my failure, and he did the courtesy of ignoring me entirely. Though I didn’t really know what a cloudberry was, I can’t say Polar didn’t rouse my curiosity. A quick Google search named the cloudberry as the blackberry’s Scandinavian cousin. I’m traveling abroad to Copenhagen in the spring, so maybe I’ll get the chance to eat some real cloudberries. If they don’t taste like sparkling water, I’m leaving.
I’d recommend trying all five kinds, if only for the experience. WeShop stocks a lot of flavors, but something new is exciting especially for us seltzer lovers. The Winter Limited Edition is a win in my book. In all fairness, I wouldn’t be surprised if my judgement was clouded from huffing sweet-smelling carbon dioxide for four days in an effort to determine the “notes” of bubbly bottled water. But who knows? Happy Seltzing!
Gigi Snyder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.