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Munchies

We Made Sommeliers Taste Mountain Dew's America-Flavored 'Liberty Brew'

"It kind of smells like when you’re in fourth grade and you buy those perfumes and body sprays...Victoria's Secret glitter body spray."

by Rupa Bhattacharya; photos by Drew Schwartz
Jul 3 2019, 10:02pm

Photography by Drew Schwartz

Early this summer, Mountain Dew—a company known for a remarkable panoply of flavors beyond the glowing green OG—released "Liberty Brew," a limited-edition flavor that they claimed contained 50 different distinct flavors. At first taste, we had trouble identifying all of these sophisticated aromas, so we called in the experts: a panel of sommeliers from Manhattan's Cote restaurant, to figure out what mysteries lay behind the eagle-, buffalo-, and motorcycle-riding-Statue of Liberty–bedecked label.

a group of sommeliers at cote restaurant taste testing mountain dew's liberty brew

VICE: Mountain Dew claims that this flavor, Liberty Brew, is actually a combination of 50 different flavors. It's a release to celebrate July 4, hence the eagle and the Statue of Liberty, who appears to be riding a motorcycle. And I guess the 50 flavors represent all 50 states.

Victoria James, Beverage Director: Oh wait, is there a flavor for each state, like one has cactus flavor, and one has Buffalo flavor? I guess we have a Statue of Liberty flavor that’s like, coppery and tinny?... John, since you’re our Floridian, what would the Florida flavor be?

John Drewniany, Beverage Manager: Trash.

Amanda Geller, sommelier: Pink flamingo?

JD: Bath salts. Bath salts. That’s what it would be.

VJ: Well, we have to do a proper tasting: We have to go through the sight, we have to go through the smell, we have to go through the palate, and then the color.

AG: It looks like dish detergent.

JD: It does. It's the same color as Dawn.

AG: Oh, and [as] the toilet stuff.

JD: Oh yes... umm... you know... What dissolves the poop in a Porta Potty? Yum—lucky us.

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VJ: Daniel, do you want to start us off with the color?

Daniel Ng, sommelier: I would say this has a medium intensity of Windex blue, fading into a light blue to clear red, definitely getting some sign of submerged CO2 perhaps, no sediment.

VJ: No sediment, definitely filtered.

JD: Is it star bright?

DN: I would say day bright.

VJ: Definitely some green in there.

JD: It is really the color of Windex, though, or Dawn. I’m sure we’ve put worse things in our bodies.

DN: It has a medium-plus viscosity, maybe some sugar. Sugar or high fructose syrup.

VJ: Or high-fructose corn syrup dripping down the side.

Marina Arbenz, sommelier: No legs, though, so we don't know what that means yet.

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VJ: Okay. Who wants to take the nose?

JD: Amanda.

AG: Ughhhh.

AG: Very, very aromatic—really, um, artificial.

JD: Hawaiian Punch?

VJ: You know Pixy Stix that were like, this big?

JD: Kind of powdery. Definitely powdery.

MA: You know [those] heart candies that say “love me,” “text me,” that are a little chalky?

JD: It’s like a cross between a Necco wafer and something else miserable.

VJ: This is, like, violently offensive.

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JD: I’m getting, like, blue raspberry Blow Pops slash... I wish that we were doing this in like, black stems so you couldn't see the color.

MA: The nose is sweet, but there's not really a tastiness. It’s pretty ripe, very ripe.

VJ: It kind of smells like, you know when you’re in fourth grade and you buy those perfumes and body sprays? Like Bath & Body Works.

JD: Ohh, sun-kissed raspberry. Mmm... cucumber melon.

VJ: Victoria's Secret glitter body spray.

DN: Was "Love Potion" Victoria's Secret or Bath & Body Works?

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VJ: Okay, guys, I feel like we have to taste it. We can spit.

JD: It tastes like liquid cotton candy. That’s what it tastes like. Without the texture of cotton candy.

VJ: It's wrong temperature-wise—it's really warm.

JD: Should we get a lime or a lemon to squeeze in freshness?

VJ: Yeah, there's no acid.

JD: It's really flat.

AG: Yeah, I thought it would be like, more tart.

JD: The mousse is delicate though. I’ll give it that.

VJ: But not in a good way.

VJ: Wait, isn’t it supposed to be refreshing?

JD: It's not.

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Yeah, it’s liberty, so it's supposed to taste like freedom.

VJ: Freedom is flat. It’s much more expressive on the nose than on the palate.

JD: Way more expressive on the nose than on the palate. On the palate, it’s just sweet.

VJ: Maybe it's supposed to be a flavored water. Maybe it tastes like this because we’re supposed to have it with food.

JD: So, who wants to pair it with blue cheese?

VJ: We did want to do blue cheese and blue beverage.

VJ: I'm going to [add] crushed ice—this is like a Slurpee.

[Slurping sounds]

JD: Salty funky blue cheese.

VJ: When it's colder, you can't smell as much. The colder something is, the less expressive, so you should actually definitely drink this ice-cold.

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Fair enough. Is this a situation in which we have to pair by color? Is blue cheese the answer?

JD: Maybe the problem is that we're doing too much of the highbrow and not enough of the trash.

VJ: Actually, maybe with the barbecue chips that are so intense and also fake-flavored, it's good.

JD: Hot wing[-flavored] Ruffles.

VJ: It stands up to it. It makes it taste a little less disgusting, so two disgusting things together actually make something relatively quaffable?

JD: I mean, I don’t know about quaffable. It makes it like, bearable. Like gangrene or something, where it's not good but it's only one toe so it's all right.

I really want to know what the 50 flavors are. There are 50 on the nose.

AG: Fifty on the palate, no.

VJ: I mean it’s definitely an assortment of every, like, candied fruit in existence.

JD: There’s a definitive synthetic quality to it as well, where it’s like, it smells and tastes like something that’s not of this earth.

DN: It’s like, cough syrup, a little medicinal.

JD: Dimetapp, yeah.

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Or when you fill [a cup] with all the soda flavors, or alternatively, when you have someone make you a shot out of a beer mat.

VJ: A Jersey shot! Oh my god, that's disgusting.

JD: It tastes like sadness. I mean, I can say something worse than that. It reminds me of like... guys I used to date.

VJ: This is something that like, Trump would serve at the White House to American heroes.

JD: Yes, 100 percent, with Burger King.

VJ: Do you think our teeth will be blue now?

JD: I do really like those, the hot wings Ruffles. I'm into this. Great job, Ruffles.

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Are you diluting it? That might be the move.

VJ: Ooh, what if we just do like one splash?

VJ: Vodka might help.

DN: I agree, it's less offensive when it's chilled.

I wondered if this was gonna be like tasting spirits, where you have to dilute it and aromatize so you get more of the nuances, but in fact, no, that's not true at all.

AG: Like, it tastes like the bottom after you've sucked all the juice out of those ice pops, like the freeze pops that you get from Costco—the bottom when it's just ice.

I feel like we’re good.

VJ: Please don’t make us drink anymore.

No, you guys have been heroes. Thank you. God bless America.