The Guilty Pleasure: "Dirty" soda pop
Where to Get it: Sodalicious
What it Really Costs: The sweet, high-flying rush of fructose-fueled euphoria, followed by the cranky lows of the inevitable sugar crash.
When it comes to drinks that are ruled by a slight sense of obsession and complexity, coffee drinks and cocktails tend to spring to mind. At a certain kind of coffee house, ordering a fancy latte might involve the barista pulling out a scale to measure your freshly roasted grounds, which were carefully sourced from single varietal beans. And a serious cocktail mixologist wields more strange-looking metallic tools — sturdy jiggers, cups, muddlers, and other assorted gear — than your average orthodontist.
But how do you get the flavor-rich jolt of caffeine — or the spirit-lifting boost of a well-mixed cocktail — without actually drinking coffee or booze? The answer lies in the bubbly, sugary magic of old-fashioned soda pop.
Sodalicious, a Utah-based soda shop chain with two locations in Gilbert and one in Mesa, pours creative soda drinks that seem to take inspiration from both coffee and cocktail culture. The drink menu includes nearly 20 sodas flavors, which you can make "dirty" with your choice of add-ins and flavor shots.
The "dirty soda" concept has become popular in Utah in recent years, a state where LDS doctrine runs deep, which means a sizable chunk of the population avoids the consumption of tea, coffee, and alcohol. Sugar, it seems, has become the drug of choice in the Beehive State. In fact, the "dirty soda" concept is so popular in Utah, it has even spawned a protracted trademark-related legal battle between Sodalicious and a rival Utah-based soda shop chain, Swig.
Legal matters, though, will probably be the last thing on your mind when you check out the Sodalicious menu, which is pretty expansive. This is not the place to go for a simple glass of fizzy Coke (although you can certainly have that). This is the place to go when you want to see what happens if you combine root beer soda with a squirt of cheesecake-flavored syrup and a couple of spoonfuls of mango puree. This, in fact, would be a very reasonable order at Sodalicious.
But if you would rather forgo experimenting with weird flavor combos, Sodalicious offers a "mixology" menu of signature soda drinks, many of them with LDS-themed, tongue-in-cheek names like The 2nd Wife (a mix of Mountain Dew, blood orange flavoring, and mango puree) and the Eternal Companion (Sprite, with a squirt of non-alcoholic Blue Curacao, and peach puree).
On a recent visit to Sodalicious' original Gilbert location, which is situated near the intersection of Gilbert Road and Baseline, we tried the El Doctoro, a blend of Dr. Pepper and horchata. The flavors, sadly, seemed to cancel each other out, and the lingering effect was that of slightly diluted Dr. Pepper.
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A brighter, tastier drink was the Blue Bombshell (Mountain Dew, Blue Curacao, coconut, passionfruit), which looked more green than blue on arrival, but which was nonetheless as fruity and refreshing as any umbrella-accessorized, beach vacation cocktail (sans the booze, of course).
If you're a fan of the iconic orange creamsicle popsicle, you'll appreciate the soda version available here, which is made using Orange Bang soda, vanilla, and whipped cream. It tastes just like the smooth, creamy popsicle of your youth.
Part of the fun of coming to Sodalicious, of course, is trying all the flavors, or possibly mixing up your own secret recipe. In any case, come here to rediscover the joys of soda, or maybe just for a mid-afternoon sugar energy boost.