No beverage served as the punchline for more jokes than Zima (except, of course, Schmitts Gay). And that was in just 15 years of existence! But sad news recently, as MillerCoors announced that the “lightly carbonated alchopop” beverage would be discontinued because of weakness in the “malternative” market.
Now, you aren’t going to find too many people who praise Zima, at least without using such qualifiers as “chicks drink” and “not Bud Light Lime.” But a passage in music journalist Rob Sheffield’s memoir Love is a Mixtape finds the time to offer a suggestion for those last Zimas lingering on the shelves:
“The spring of 1994 was marked by two key events in rock history: the death of Kurt Cobain and the birth of Zima. In case you don’t remember, and if you drank any Zima you surely don’t, it was a cheap, fizzy, clear, strong, thoroughly rancid malt liquor marketed as a hipster “alternative” beer with a shiny silver and black label that glowed in the dark. Let me reiterate – it was cheap. One night, Renee started rummaging through the kitchen for mixers. She found a sampler box of miniature liqueur bottles – an untouched Secret Santa gift from a day job she’d had a couple of years back – gathering dust on our shelves and started trying out recipes to cut the toxic kick of Zima …
But then, one night, in a flash of inspiration that rivals the creative energy of Chuck Berry the night he decided to mix country with the blues, Renee poured in some sickly sweet purple syrup called Chambord. With a little Chambord, a longneck of Zima became a handful of flaming violet glass, a bottle that looked like it could be set on fire and thrown at a bus or drunk with equally destructive effects. One Zima-and-Chambord would knock you on your ass; two would knock you on somebody else’s ass. It was the perfect rock cocktail.”
As an aside, I really enjoyed the book, even as a music fan who grew up just a few years too late to truly grap Sheffield’s hold on the 1990s music scene. He writes a heartbreaking song without any need for layers of strings.