Drink This: Hot Dr Pepper


Round about Christmas time, Buzzfeed put up a video titled “9 Ways Christmas In The 60s Was Super WTF“. One of those ways was a commercial suggesting Dr Pepper not just as a cold and fizzy drink to enjoy at 10, 2, and 4, but as a hot drink, perhaps perfect for a sophisticated winter dinner party. Here’s a full-length version of the Hot Dr Pepper ad:

When I first saw the ad, I assumed it was an attempt by Dr Pepper, in a time before soda became an all-year, every-meal drink for many Americans, to sell their product during the coldest months of the year. Why not heat it up? Drink it warm? Use Dr Pepper to fight away the chill of a harsh winter night. I laughed at the video, and went about my life. A few weeks later I was trying to settle a bet about whether or not prune juice is one of the famously secret 23 flavors, I happened upon the FAQ on Dr Pepper’s website, and there among the questions was this:

Q: What is hot Dr Pepper?
A: Hot Dr Pepper was developed many years ago as a refreshing winter drink. Heat Dr Pepper in a saucepan to 180 degrees, place a thin slice of lemon in the bottom of a coffee mug or insulated cup and pour the heated Dr Pepper over the lemon.

So it wasn’t just a one-time campaign in the 1960s to get people to drink a cold beverage hot to push sales in lean months. This is still a thing. That they still suggest you try. So I figured…why the hell not?

Now, I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand. Namely, I didn’t have Dr Pepper or a lemon. One might observe that I didn’t have any of the ingredients on hand, and perhaps that’s fair. I did have a 12-pack of Dr Pepper taste-alike Dr. Bob. It’s long been my favorite Dr Pepper clone. As that review states, it’s a little dryer, which I think is what I like about it. I also had orange juice. I also had rum.

Simple recipe. I put just enough orange juice in the bottom of two mugs to cover the bottom, probably not even a tablespoon. I heated the Dr. Bob until it was steaming. Then I poured it over the orange juice. The result is something similar to a toddy, and perhaps an interesting alternative to an evening coffee or tea for someone who, like me, doesn’t like coffee or tea. The flavor was subtly different that Dr Pepper (or Dr. Bob) on its own, thanks to the added citrus. It was fine, but there was something missing.

That’s where the rum came in. I added just a capful, not even a shot. That’s what turned the drink from an interesting experiment into a quite delightful toddy. Something that I actually would serve at a party. Ramp up all the ingredients, put it in a crock pot, and not tell people what they’re drinking until after they’ve decided if they like it or not. Maybe I’ll even try it with the correct ingredients, not just those I happened to have on hand.

So drink up, it’s a cold few months ahead, and this is surprisingly good.

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