We put off trying the AHA Apple + Ginger for a long time.
We appreciate apples as a fruit, and definitely appreciate apples in theory, with their long mythological history and crazy biology. But apple drinks are another story.
While we might appreciate a little cider here and there, either mulled or hard and dry, apple juice is often so cloying and best left in kindergarten.
However, we have sworn a solemn and sacred vow to leave no can uncracked in the bubbleverse, so sooner or later we knew we’d have to sip this one. And to be fair, we’ve had the same experience with almost every AHA flavor: first we look askance, sometimes at the flavor combo (cherry coffee?), always at the Coca Cola provenance, but then we try it, and we’re somehow always surprised that it’s…really good.
So, like John Chapman leaving his family farm in Massachusetts, we’re donning our burlap, putting a pan on our head, and setting off to seed the bubbleverse.
Our first morning in apple territory, we awaken to a verdant, juicy-sweet Minute Maid mist rising from
the pristine hills and valleys of the young american continent the can. Bracing ourselves for the journey ahead, we wax our boots in anticipation of having to forge this deep river of juice.
Thankfully though, the sun rises through the canopy, burning off the haze. Further sniffs reveal a more pleasant & softer nose, notes of piquant cider.
As we walk, each sip reveals the contours of the landscape: subtle, rolling hills of apple cider, gently sour creeks, dark thickets of ginger.
Michael Pollan proposed, and Howard Means reluctantly agreed, that Johnny Appleseed’s true role on the colonial frontier was priming unsettled lands for the coming alcoholic frenzy that would arrive with the pioneers.
In that weird liminal zone between puritanical civilization and native american genocide, all manner of religious revivalists, land speculators, wildmen, squatters, and farmers fueled their bizarre & ritualistic expansion of empire with the strongest apple hooch.
So it’s fitting that AHA’s apple sparkling water tastes like cider, we guess is what we’re saying.
At first, the cidery sip is almost overwhelming, juice box flashbacks in technicolor sparkles. It’s the robust, can-tastes-you vibe that has, against all odds, made AHA so endearing to us.
But by mid-can, something rich and evocative and decidedly more grown up has happened. You’re ready to heat this up and dunk a powdered donut right in. It’s cozy fall foliage in hazy, liquified focus.
But remember, we left New England and their genteel ciders in search of something less tamed. And as the night falls on the little apple nursery that we hacked out of primeval forest, we hear the howling of the ginger in the distance.
Now, you might have got some idea in your head that this ginger was going to be weak, judging by the depiction of ginger on the can. Seriously, are those potato chips? Did we walk all the way to Idaho and become Johnny Potatoseed? Did the AHA graphic designers just search for “ginger clip art” and call it a day?
Whatever’s happening on the label is not happening inside, though. This is a fresh, spicy ginger, sending rootlets and tendrils over the wall of the orchard to entwine and strangle the apples.
But instead of strangling, we actually get a picturesque ginger wilderness surrounding our apple-sod cabin, a ginger root spliced on our honeycrisp sapling, blossoming on a virgin prairie.
If only America herself had turned out like this.
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