A Speculative Ranking Of This Week’s Ill-Advised Corporate Beverages

Wonderful news on the chain food and beverage front this week. First, Taco Bell announced that they’ll be selling their own wine. “Jalapeño Noir” is a Pinot Noir (that’s red wine, grandma) with “notes of wild strawberry, cherry, and beetroot,” which will be “released in Canada to help promote Taco Bell’s new Toasted Cheesy Chalupa.”

Wait, Canada only?! Damn, first universal healthcare and now this. We need a presidential candidate who promises to close the chalupa gap. The chalupa, by the way, “features six-month aged cheddar cheese toasted right onto the chalupa shell,” as well as all the regular Taco Bell stuff inside, like Space Beef and the Colonel’s magic blend of Mex-I-can spices (yes, I made that last part up).

Elsewhere, Mountain Dew has teamed up with Red Lobster for a specially-branded “Dew ‘Garita,” which sounds like a nickname Doogie Howser got during med school hazing but is actually a branded margarita-adjacent cocktail made with Mountain Dew. It’s meant to pair with Red Lobster’s famous Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Seems like a weird pairing — considering one allegedly comes from the mountains and the other from the bay. Hillbillies and lobstermen dining together? Am I the only one who gives a shit about geographical consistency? Still, better than a Duggar-ita.

Finally, rounding out the rule of three, PepsiCo has announced plans to launch a new drink to aid sleep. Driftwell “is meant to help consumers relax and unwind before bed,” and is being described as an “enhanced water drink.” It contains “200 milligrams of L-theanine and 10% of the daily value of magnesium.” Which, I’m being told, are “what plants crave.”

Driftwell will be available nationwide starting in December. It contains no booze, which seems pointless, but L-theanine is an amino acid found in certain teas and mushrooms, which “a few studies have suggested can improve sleep quality and can help reduce the physical symptoms of stress.”

Ah, but what if my main symptom of stress is drinking Pepsi?

As astute readers may note, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and Taco Bell are all part of PepsiCo and/or Yum Brands, which has a lifetime contract with its original parent company, PepsiCo, so it may be that this is all part of some coordinated stunt-marketing effort. Probably spearheaded by some guy named Chad Presswick, the world’s raddest product consultant.

All of which brings us to… a ranking of drinks I have not tried yet.

Here’s how I stack them:

1) Jalapeño Noir

It’s red wine. I don’t care if you pair it with a Chalupa or a chicken salad, it’s fine by me. Plus I like the name “Jalapeño Noir.” It sounds like a movie genre Robert Rodriguez invented.

2) Dew ‘Garita

Being that I wasn’t born in Appalachia and have never worked as a systems engineer, I consider Mountain Dew one of the fouler liquids on the planet. That being said, it can’t be that much worse than Triple Sec. The Mountain Dew Cheddar Bay Margarita sounds like a Kamikaze shot in a glass. And as long as I’m at a Red Lobster already, what the hell, might as well give it a whirl.

3) Sleepytime Pepsi

Sorry, Driftwell, Pepsi is just not something I traditionally associate with stress relief. Though I do appreciate the thought process behind trying to apply “the choice of a new generation” toward the generation of Xanax rappers with face tattoos. “Hey… you kids like… relaxing… right?”

Vince Mancini is on Twitter. You can access his archive of reviews here.