I’m game for most things — so when my editor at aSweatLife asked me to put balsamic vinegar in seltzer water and drink it, I instantly said yes.
My only question going into this experiment: Did the world really need a “healthy” option for an item like cola? I had my feelings but tried to remain objective. Okay, fine, I was actually ready to bash this drink. Like many times in life, though, I learned a little something about myself along the way.
The balsamic “healthy” coke trend rose to prominence in June. Since then, the idea of a “healthy” coke has appealed to many and left many others asking, “Why?” and, “Seriously, though — why?” I wanted to answer them.
People have been drinking vinegar for centuries. Apple cider vinegar-based drinks have been around for thousands of years (Hippocrates mixed his with honey!) So a balsamic-based beverage really isn’t that far-fetched.
However, I was skeptical that this balsamic libation would be anything like a coke. Still, I gave it a go — and here are my honest thoughts.
Easy recipe with extra anticipation
While at the grocery store grabbing supplies, I wondered what the most bougie balsamic was. Maybe choosing a fancy vinegar would make this drink taste better.
Turns out, they all looked similar and were priced within one dollar of each other. I guess balsamic is egalitarian — or this grocery store just had a boring selection.
Then, I repeated the process all over again when grabbing seltzer water — which a quick Google search told me is the same (I think) as soda water.
Goodies in hand, I hustled home as my anticipation began to build despite myself. I certainly enjoy balsamic dressings, glazes, and balsamic-tomato salads. Those are all delicious. For some reason though, my doubts about this drink continued to nag.
Time to drink!
I’d decided to go with a sensibly-priced seltzer, but I splurged on a moderately-priced ($4.79) bottle of balsamic vinegar.
Boldly throwing caution to the wind, I went with a little more than the “splash of balsamic” my recipe recommended. As my wife asked for her phone back, I prepared myself. There was no turning back.
Hold up, let me add a metal straw to this balsamic composition — now there was no turning back!
I wanted to catch my initiation into the wild world of balsamic drinks on camera. Wait, no, two cameras. Quick like a bunny, I grabbed my wife’s phone before she knew what I was doing, ran to the kitchen, and I was ready. Camera on, glass in hand, I tossed my head back and took a healthy sip.
What did I learn?
Staggered. Stunned. Stupified. I realized that, well, this balsamic bevy actually has the essence, the tang, of Coke —and I kind of liked it. I took another sip, searched my feelings once more, and came to the conclusion that I genuinely liked the drink.
Leaning into the experience, I had more, then more, and soon I’d finished the whole glass. Okay, this drink definitely isn’t Coke. But it also definitely isn’t bad.
Comparing it to Coke is a disservice — it’s simply a “healthy” balsamic drink that has a certain zing to it. But, I get it — that doesn’t sound as interesting or clickable as “Healthy Coke.”
Along with learning a new (easy) drink recipe, I also learned (again) that I need to stop prejudging things. I love balsamic dressings, and I routinely have apple cider vinegar drinks. Why would a balsamic-based Coke impersonator be any different? I also learned that Hippocrates put honey in his ACV drinks, just like me!
Sure, social media trends can be easy to dismiss, but honestly, what’s the fun in that? Life should be about trying new things and experimenting. I thought I was making myself a healthy drink, but I was actually teaching myself a valuable lesson — don’t knock something ‘til you’ve tried it.