The leaves have changed, the weather is cooler, and pumpkin spice lattes are everywhere, but the one true way that I know that the holiday season is nigh is when the soda I covet the most, Canada Dry cranberry ginger ale, hits the shelves of my neighborhood grocery store.
For those who do not pay attention to the machinations of a 100-year old Canadian soda manufacturer, here’s how it works: in addition to its signature ginger ale and a new(ish) “extra bold” flavor, Canada Dry markets a couple of seasonal flavors throughout the year. In the spring and summer, there’s Canada Dry spiked with lemonade, a refreshing drink that’s perfect when it’s hotter than hell outside. And then, come fall, there’s cranberry ginger ale, also available in diet.
That cranberries are tied to autumn makes sense. Cranberry harvesting season is September through November, and cranberries are often served at Thanksgiving and Christmas. What’s nonsensical, however, is that Canada Dry limits its distribution of cranberry ginger ale to only the holiday months because it’s truly the world’s most perfect soda. The tartness from the cranberry pairs perfectly with ginger ale’s mild spice. It’s perfectly crisp, and doesn’t leave that cloying film of sugar in your mouth like the average soda. There’s no caffeine, which means that I can sip a glass in the wee hours without worrying about not being able to sleep. I am, after all, over the age of 30, and therefore legally barred from consuming caffeine after 2 p.m. if I wish to get even one second of rest that night.
Hand-in-hand with my tolerance for caffeine, my soda preferences have changed as I’ve gotten older. As a kid, I could house a six-pack of Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew in a matter of hours. Now, I find it so sugary that I can only have a couple of sips. But cranberry ginger ale is the exception to that rule, which is why I buy and hoard as much as possible over the holiday season. When poured over ice, it feels a little fancier and more grown-up than the average soda, partially because the flavor profile is a more sophisticated than, say, a Sprite. (To be clear, there isn’t actually any less sugar, but I’m okay with lying to myself about it.)
It’s clear that Canada Dry mostly views cranberry ginger ale as a beverage for holiday parties and get-togethers. It’s sold mostly in two-liter bottles, which is perfect when you need to serve a lot of soda at once, maybe in cocktails or in a punch, but terrible to drink over the course of a week. 12-packs of cans, the optimal delivery device for a super-fizzy soda, are scarce, and that’s a travesty.
For now, I’ll take what I can get. As someone who isn’t a particularly heavy drinker, cranberry ginger ale is the kind of beverage I’d like to sip year-round in lieu of a cheap glass of cava at somebody’s office party. And if I do want to spike it with booze, is there really any more perfect way to achieve a gorgeous Poinsettia than with a shot of cranberry ginger ale?
Ultimately, Canada Dry should really just do
me all of us a favor and make cranberry ginger ale available year-round. If Starbucks can sell its peppermint mocha in the dead of summer, I should be able to sip my cranberry ginger ale, too.