When it comes to mixing spirits with cola, most think of spiking the latter with a little whiskey and stopping there. But the imbibing world may be in for a change, courtesy of a tall, slim can called 1893.
1893 is a new cola from the makers of Pepsi, and it comes in two flavors: Original and Ginger. What sets them apart is the ingredients: each is made with kola nut extract, real sugar and sparkling water. This creates a cola that’s less saccharine, lighter in body and decidedly crisp–making them a much better complement to whiskey and, as I soon learned, other things.
Since the end of July, 1893 has been holding a cocktail residency at Caesar’s Palace with Bar Rescue’s Rob Floyd, and in September I received an invitation from PepsiCo to experience it. As an appreciator of mixed drinks and a complete Vegas neophyte, I accepted.
My initial taste of 1893 was at Caesar’s Spanish Steps bar. I experienced two revelations at the Spanish Steps: 1) Cola can turn a whiskey smash into a satisfying highball in the form of the 1893 Mint Condition; and 2) I could pick up this rather large cocktail and drink it wherever I wanted (only one of these insights remains true outside of Vegas).
I received a more thorough run-down of 1893’s myriad uses that Saturday night, when I attended a cocktail demonstration hosted by Rob Floyd at the Monte Cristo Cigar Bar–also at Caesar’s. I actually never left the property that whole day and night, a fact I only realized Sunday.
The demonstration began with a “Cuba Libre” palate cleanser, which was the classic cocktail made with 1893 Original and solidified into a slushy-like consistency, served on a spoon. Floyd followed that with the 1893 Pineapple Heat, a sweet-and-spicy mixture of tequila, pineapple juice and jalapeno syrup that was nicely balanced by a moderate amount of 1893 Ginger.
For the second drink, Floyd riffed on the Moscow Mule. His fairly faithful adaptation was made markedly different by the exchange of ginger beer in favor of 1893 Ginger. The latter lacked the syrupy quality that marks the former, making for a mule that was lighter and pleasantly less sweet.
I despaired a bit after leaving Vegas, knowing that I may not find myself in another stateside open container situation anytime soon. However, I take comfort in the knowledge that a far better cocktail mixer now exists—inside of Vegas and out.
If you’d like to try your hand at making these for cocktails yourself, here are recipes for doing just that. Each can be easily concocted at home, should you find yourself in some kind of desperate, Rob Floyd-less situation.
1893 Mint Condition
5 Crushed Mint Leaves
1.25 oz Canadian Whisky
5 oz 1893 Original
Build in a rocks glass. Garnish with a mint sprig and lime wheel.
1893 Pineapple Heat
1.25 oz Silver Tequila
2 oz Pineapple Juice
4 oz 1893 Ginger
½ oz Jalapeno Syrup
Shake with ice, then strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a spear of fresh pineapple and a ring of sliced jalapeno.
1893 Ginger Mule
1.25 oz Vodka
4 oz 1893 Ginger
1 Squeeze Lime
2 Dashes Rhubarb Bitters
Build in a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.