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Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: June 2023

Drinkin' When the Livin' Is Easy

Stanley Peter Jaskiewicz

Drinkin' When the Livin' Is Easy Kucova

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As Gershwin taught us, in the summertime, the livin’ is easy – especially when enjoying a favorite beverage.  

As I learned at college, for some, a drink without alcohol isn’t a “drink.”

I vividly recall final exam prep sessions with a teaching assistant from Kentucky. 

He emphasized to us, both at length, and by example, that enjoying a mint julep in May was as essential a part of everyone’s education – including experiential learning – as anything he had ever explained in his classroom. 

Similarly, a college classmate from New Orleans was always willing to preach to us about Hurricanes, yet another experiential learning opportunity. 

I still even have a vague, vague memory of attending my own education after final exams, at “the tables down at Mory’s” in New Haven, CT.  

Its multi-colored cups have taught generations of students not only about who “makes the world go round,” but also about how to celebrate the end of a semester (or how not to...).

In fact, in my very limited experience, most trips to Mory’s ended with the world going around, and around. 

Classmates told me the next day that things had not gone well for me after we had returned home one prior evening.  In my defense, I was celebrating four consecutive days of intense final exams.

Notwithstanding those now hazy memories of long-ago days, I now recall even better the many iconic local soft drink brands that I have enjoyed over the years (at least before I learned my A1C level). 

Many of them have even survived the consolidation of the soda industry. 

For example, I will always remember one Philadelphia brand’s lascivious pre-MTV television ads for Franks drinks, especially Black Cherry Wishniak.  “If it’s Franks, thanks.”  

In law school in Michigan, I learned to appreciate Vernor’s ginger ale – even though I had never considered that there could be any version of that flavor other than Canada Dry.  (see here)

I also discovered that it wasn’t my Philadelphia accent that caused Midwestern locals to look at me oddly, when I ordered “soda” – until I asked for “pop,” a term no one used in the east where I had grown up and attended college.

In fact, until researching this article I had never known that ginger ale was originally “a home remedy for indigestion and motion sickness,” and balm to “soothe coughs and sore throats.” 

(As an attorney, I was not surprised that even something as simple as ginger ale became the subject of a class action - over the alleged lack of the ginger root that gave the flavor its name. ) (see here)

A few years later, my wife introduced me to Stewart’s Root beer, at a local soda fountain near where she had grown up in northeast Pennsylvania. (see here)  

Alas, it is now just another local ice cream shop. 

That example leads me to encourage you to seek out local beverages, even if now corporate owned.  You will never know when you will find a unique flavor, or even a great origin story.

For example, I enjoyed one such boutique beverage maker after law school.  

The internet says that it lives, but it is certainly difficult to find.

(I saved some lids for the great quotes printed there).

In college, I bought another brand for intramural sports events (  Not only were there many flavors, but the campus package store carried it, so I could put it on my residential college’s tab.

(I reminisced about that store, and its friendly proprietor – Elliott, albeit not the same one as the juice maker – at my recent college reunion.)

One survivor brand is Nantucket Nectars, now part of a much larger firm. 

In my area, there are still many farm stand apple cider vendors.  Although one well-known larger firm was acquired, much like the soda firms, each fall it seems like every farm stand has its own version of fresh cider.  If it doesn’t need refrigeration, it isn’t fresh enough.

So, as you travel near and far this summer, stay away from the big displays of the same brands you can get at home. 

Choose instead the niche and local drinks you won’t find at home – and bring home extras, if you like what you discover.