Americans just love Mexican Coca-Cola.
For one thing, there’s the bottle—made of thick, heavy, fluted glass. The way it feels in your hand brings many people back to an age before plastic bottles and aluminum cans. The real payoff, apparently, is the taste. Mexican Coke is flavored with cane sugar, rather than the high-fructose corn syrup that sweetens the American version.
The result, according to connoisseurs, is a beverage that is cleaner, crisper and more satisfying (and better for you as well). Not surprisingly, the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta insists that “the taste difference is imperceptible” between the American product and the one made south of the border, although it admits that regional differences in the formula occur around the world. Most people who taste them side by side prefer Mexican Coke, which has attained the status of a cult object among consumers. Whenever possible, bartenders prefer to use it in cocktails, particularly the Cuba Libre.
Devotees of Mexican Coke can order it online, although it doesn’t come cheap at some websites; www.mexgrocer.com sells a standard 11.5 ounce bottle for $2.50, while www.sodafinder.com charges $3.49. If you shop around, you can find a case of 24 bottles for $35.99. Costco and Walmart were carrying it for a while at discount prices, but those days are over (Costco briefly stopped selling Coca-Cola products last year, as a result of a price dispute; there’s no word on whether Mexican Coke has returned to some of the warehouses). If you’re in a market close to the Mexican border, you may well be able to quaff one for slightly more than double the price of an American coke. Consumers who are unable to locate the Mexican bottles might want to try the special Kosher version produced by Coke during Passover, which contains no corn syrup.
Skeptical? Next time you’re in a trendy lounge, ask the bartender if he or she can link you up with The Real Thing.