Hello, beverage drinkers! I’ve decided to hijack this space this week to tell you about the single best non-alcoholic drink I’ve ever tasted in my life. It comes from Germany, and it’s called Club Mate. (Pronunciation: MAH-tay.) Will it make you more beautiful? Well, probably not. Then again, the alert glow of happiness that emanates from my face when I’ve had one or two might beg to differ.
Club Mate is so good, you guys. I don’t even want to call it soda, because most soda tastes like ass and this tastes like suckling on the teat of an angel. It’s made with extract of yerba mate, which is an excellent, smoky-tasting tea from South America with a relatively high caffeine content. It’s the original energy drink!
Club Mate tastes a little like yerba mate, but it also tastes like nice, refreshing, not-too-sweet soda. As mixers go, it goes really well with vodka, and a lot of places in Berlin make a participatory drink called a “vodka Mate” that involves handing you the Club Mate and having you drink some off the top, then filling the vacant space with vodka. Beats vodka and Red Bull by a zillion kilometers. As with any cocktail involving alcohol and caffeine, it’s a bad idea to drink too much of it, but it’s a really good way to start the night off if you’re tired from working all day and need a little pick-me-up. (Assuming you work, of course. That’s not a given in Berlin.)
In addition to the aforementioned good qualities, it also has a bizarro mascot that looks like a dude wearing an Anonymous mask and some big hoop earrings. If that’s not a reason to drink something, I don’t know what is.
Wikipedia tells me that this stuff is currently available in “31 countries, primarily in Europe, but also Canada, Australia, Israel, Turkey and South Africa,” and my friend says there’s a bodega on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg that sells it for like, $5 a bottle. (A small price to pay!) Don’t go to your grave without trying it at least once.