what: Boylan Bottling Company’s Sparkling Lemonade
where: Mast General Store, 1601 Main St.
I very nearly failed on my first pass at this assignment. Walking out of the Mast General Store on Columbia’s Main Street, I knew the colorful public tables in front of the Meridian Building, just three blocks away, would make for a nice spot to photograph this highly refreshing Drink of the Week. But with the high humidity, the heat index was 92 degrees and honestly felt much closer to 100 padding the bricks on the way to my destination.
I twisted off the lid off my Boylan Sparkling Lemonade, thinking, “I’ll just have a sip.” Delivered to my hand appropriately frigid from the cooler at Mast (mind the sign that reminds you the coldest drinks are up front), that first swig offered a brief but blissful reprieve from the oppressive heat. The vivid tart of fresh lemon juice landed first, giving way to soda bubbles, cane sugar and other “natural flavor” that shifted the taste to something more like a fine lemon sherbet.
I quickly sipped again. And then again. Before I knew it, a third of the bottle was gone, and I was still a block away. Somehow, I steeled myself against the impulse to drink more of Boylan’s supremely well-crafted seasonal release. I took the photo and turned around to walk the couple blocks back to the Free Times office, finishing off the remainder of the soda just as I reached my desk.
Columbia’s summer heat is a formidable opponent. But this soda holds its own.