I'm a carbonation freak. Growing up, there was nothing better than a giant, carbonated soda on a hot, Texas summer day. My parent's didn't usually keep soda in the house, so I'd swing by the convenience store on the way home from basketball practice to pick up a 32-ounce Dr. Pepper. It wasn't until I was about 19 that I decided to more-or-less give up the sweet bubbly stuff. I quickly discovered i could replace the loss of caffeine with piping hot black coffee, but finding a daytime-appropriate substitute for my carbonation fix has been a little trickier. I don't mind plain carbonated water, but when you want something sweet, it doesn't fit the bill. So, when Sparkling ICE sent me a few bottles of their sparkling beverage a few weeks ago, I was excited to test it out.
Sparkling ICE: The basics
Sparkling ICE is a zero calorie, lightly carbonated drink that comes in eight flavors:
- Black Raspberry
- Kiwi Strawberry
- Lemon Lime
- Orange Mango
- Pink Grapefruit
- Pomegranate Berry
- Coconut Pineapple
Each of the flavors is made from sparkling spring water and natural juices, sweetened with Splenda and supplemented with vitamins and antioxidants. A single bottle of Sparkling ICE contains 20-percent daily value of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin) and vitamin D3, plus 200% daily value of vitamin B12. B vitamins play an important role in releasing energy from food and forming red blood cells that transport oxygen throughout the body. While most Americans are not vitamin B deficient, it certainly doesn't hurt to hedge your bets with a little extra of this water-soluble vitamin.
Sparkling ICE also contains 50 milligrams Green Tea Extract, a well-known antioxidant that helps prevent environmental cell damage.
Just keep in mind that while there's a lot of good stuff in the beverage, it does include potassium benzoate (a preservative), coloring agents and Splenda, an artificial sweetener. If you are sensitive to any of these elements, you may need to steer clear.
It says right on the bottle that Sparkling ICE is best served cold, so I threw a couple bottles in the freezer to let them chill. About an hour later, I pulled them out and took a swig. While I'm not particularly sensitive to artificial sweeteners, I am sensitive to overly-sweet drinks, which is weird given my old Dr. Pepper affinity. Luckily, the drinks weren't overly sweet, and the citrus flavors had a nice tang to them that I loved. And, as long as the drinks remained icy, I didn't notice the artificial sweetener at all. All-in-all, the flavor was light and delicious.
Mixing things up
After drinking a few bottles, it dawned on me that Sparkling ICE would make an excellent drink mixer. As a zero-calorie, tasty beverage, if you're looking for a way to lighten up your favorite cocktail, you really can't go wrong. I'm not a big fan of hard liquor, so I didn't have much on hand to test my theory, but I was able to scrounge up a shot of vodka to add to roughly four ounces of Strawberry Kiwi Sparkling ICE -- the result was good! After a little looking, I discovered that I wasn't the first one to come up with this plan. Sparkling ICE actually has a whole section on their website for cocktail recipes! Here are a few of the most interesting looking ideas:
Pink Grapefruit Breeze
One drink is approximately 105 calories
- 1 ounce Malibu Rum
- 2 ounces pineapple juice
- Grapefruit Sparkling ICE
- Lime slices
Pour the Malibu Rum and pineapple juice in a high ball. Finish filling the glass with the Grapefruit ICE and garnish with a slice of lime.
Kiwi Strawberry Get Lucky Margarita
One drink is approximately 100 calories
- 3 ounces Kiwi Strawberry Sparkling ICE
- 1 ounce tequila
- Splash of triple sec
- Fresh squeezed lime
Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Line a margarita glass with salt and add ice. Pour the drink and garnish with a lime.
Coconut Pineapple Almost Island Time
One drink is approximately 180 calories
- 1 ounce mango rum
- 1 ounce pineapple rum
- Splash of pineapple juice
- 3 ounces Pineapple Coconut ICE
- Pineapple chunks, as garnish
- 1 ounce Grand Mariner
Pour all the liquid ingredients except the Grand Mariner into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a martini glass and top with the Grand Mariner. Garnish with pineapple.