The Takeout’s fantasy food draft: Best non-alcoholic beverage

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Takeout DraftTakeout DraftFood. Fantasy sports. Debating over Slack. Welcome to The Takeout Draft.

Welcome, dear readers, to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.

Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout writers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week’s draft. At the end of the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.

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The winner of the previous Takeout Draft: Snack Cakes, as voted by readers: Aimee Levitt, in a resounding victory!

This week, the topic is non-alcoholic beverages, which makes any non-boozy drink fair game. Competing in the Thunderdome this week are members of the Takeout staff: Kate Bernot, Aimee Levitt, and Allison Robicelli. The randomizer has selected a draft order:

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Let’s do this.


Aimee Levitt: I’m going to start with Café Con Leche. It has all the power of regular coffee, but I don’t get it as regularly, so it feels more precious.

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Kate Bernot: Oh my! A bold choice out of the gate. Would you always prefer café con leche to coffee?

AL: I would. I like how the sugar is added while it’s brewing. Nothing else tastes like it.

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Allison Robicelli: I’m a 4 shot Americano gal, completely black.

AL: Damn. That’s hardcore.

AR: I used to do sugar in my coffee when I was a kid, but not anymore. Now when I taste sweet coffee it tastes like a betrayal.

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For my first pick, I choose water, because without it, you will die. I’ve got the power of mortality on my side this week!

AL: Do you have a particular type of water, like tap water from a certain city, or filtered through a Brita or something?

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AR: Water can be anything you want it to be. Throw a wedge of lemon there, or a slice of cucumber. When it’s ice cold and you’re a million degrees, it’s the most wonderful thing ever

KB: Give it up for water, ladies and gentlemen

AR: I’ve been trying to no longer purchase bottled water because of it’s wastefulness, but I like Evian because I got a taste for it when I was really young. I wanted to look sophisticated. I drink that and I’m like “Damn. I’m classy.”

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Photo: Robert Jordan Neil Sanchez (iStock)

KB: Didn’t we all. Okay, for my first-round pick: black coffee

AL: Essential!

KB: I could give up alcohol in a heartbeat before I could give up coffee. Really good coffee needs little else, in my book.

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AR: I gave up alcohol, and couldn’t have done it without coffee. It’s the official drink of sobriety.

KB: It’s one of life’s simplest and truest pleasures.

AL: The smell of it makes life worth living.

AR: The problem with black coffee, though, is it has a terrible half life.

KB: All the better to guzzle it.

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AR: I ended up being an Americano girl because I couldn’t trust anyone’s black coffee. Unless it’s made fresh, it’s garbage.

KB: Fair. Alright, it’s my turn next and I’m going with something sweet now: lemonade. Tart, sweet, refreshing.

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AL: Perfect when it’s totally gross out.

KB: Also a great canvas for other flavors (shout out to you, lavender lemonade!)

AR: Why does it make you feel like 20 degrees cooler whenever you drink it? It’s so refreshing.

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AL: It’s magical.

AR: My second pick: if I’m not drinking water or Americanos, I’m drinking Cherry Coke. Preferably from the fountain, because Coke always tastes better from the fountain.

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Cherry Coke is one of the most complex mass market sodas. It’s not just sugar on top of sugar.

KB: It has been a minute since I’ve had one and now that sounds so, so good.

AR: And the cherry flavor is just the slightest bit bitter. Not much, but just enough to balance it all out. It’s Coke, but more special.

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AL: For my next pick, I’m going to say regular Coke. Just straight up, though I’d prefer it in a glass bottle from Mexico because it’s sugar, not corn syrup.

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(I probably sound like a horrible snob now. But seriously, when they used to put sugar Coke in the grocery store for Passover, we’d rejoice.)

AR: It’s weird that the Coke in Mexico is made with corn syrup, but the one they export is made with cane sugar

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AL: They know! They know how sad and deprived Americans are!

AR: There’s probably a metaphor in there somewhere.

And for my pick after that, orange juice.

KB: Orange juice is underrated. But maybe that’s because the good, fresh-squeezed stuff can be expensive?

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AL: It’s true, and also it’s a pain to hand-squeeze it yourself. But it’s so so good when you do.

AR: Okay, for my third pick I got the brand new doo-doo guaranteed like Yoo-hoo. It’s not chocolate milk, it’s chocolate drink . It’s one of those things you don’t drink regularly, but then when you see it for sale at a pizzeria or something you’re like “Oh shit! Yoo-hoo! I love that stuff!”

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KB: Oh god did my brother used to love Yoo-hoo.

AL: My dad did, too.

AR: And because it’s not milk it doesn’t weigh you down. It’s actually refreshing. I had some with a half rack of ribs a few weeks ago which I was eating in the hot sun.

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It’s a great thing to drink while eating ribs and watching large birds.

KB: The life you lead, Allison.

AR: I forgot to mention there were birds.

AL: That makes it even better.

AR: It was a birdwatching and rib excursion. There’s a good BBQ shack next to a hawk hotbed and I realized I could multitask.

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KB: Let’s return to this in depth in the future... But the draft must chug on. For my next pick: Chocolate milkshake. Basically a melted pint of ice cream disguised as a beverage, which I support.

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AR: I’ll only accept it with malt, and a generous amount of malt at that.

KB: Malt powder is so good!

AR: If you are out there and you are in the business of making malteds for people, there should be at minimum 1/4 cup of malt in that damn milkshake.

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I see you people putting in like 1 tablespoon and charging me an extra buck fifty. That is not enough to make it malty. I figured this could be both a draft and a public service announcement.

KB: For my next pick: lime seltzer

I don’t know when I finally saw the light on the bubbly water trend, but it’s been all lime seltzer since then.

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AL: Resistance is futile. It’s everywhere!

AR: I’m big on seltzer. It was the official beverage of cheap Italian grandmothers from Bensonhurst, so it’s like a staple for me.

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KB: New York brand Seltzer? (Honestly, I pretend to have seltzer allegiances, but I’ll take whatever in a pinch.)

AR: Whatever was on sale at Waldbaum’s. My grandmother had closets full of seltzer. I wish I was making a joke there, but that’s actually true.

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AL: I believe it. What if the world ends? You’ll need seltzer!

AR: I have loved this seltzer renaissance we’ve been having. It’s like tv and seltzer entered their Golden Ages right at the same time.

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Seltzer is a great beverage for a sedentary lifestyle. Anyway, I’m going to keep being a wildcard with my 4th pick.........Peach Snapple

AL: That’s a good one! I haven’t had one of those for ages, and now I want one.

AR: I don’t know if it’s a Brooklyn thing, because that’s where Snapple was from before Coke bought them, but when peach Snapple happened, it was like the entire world of beverages changed There used to be just soda. Now there was soda AND Snapple.

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AL: I think it was the first mass-marketed peach drink, right?

AR: It was a pivotal moment in soft drink history. After Snapple happened other brands started pivoting to different non-carbonated drinks. Like Fruitopia.

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AL: That stuff was terrible. Like inferior Snapple.

KB: Oh we shall not even speak its name.

Photo: bhofack2 (iStock)
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AL: My fourth pick is ginger ale.

AR: It’s one of the classier sodas.

AL: It tastes good and it is a cure for stomach ailments. I associate it with the nice parts of being sick, like lying in bed all day and getting the TV in my room. I made my own a few times and it was amazing.

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AR: And it still tastes good when it goes flat. Not every soda can do that.

AL: So true.

KB: Also the official soda of airplanes, I think.

AL: Yes! And for my last pick... Whole milk!

AR: Does a body good, you know.

KB: I was wondering if milk would even make it on here.

AL: It’s a blank canvas. There’s nothing else that makes a cookie taste that good.

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AR: I am morally opposed to skim milk.

KB: I don’t know who needs to hear this, but full-fat dairy is the way to live. And you deserve it.

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AL: Hear hear!

Photo: Sasiistock (iStock)
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AR: I really never drank milk til I had kids. My whole life milk tasted gross, but young kids have to drink whole milk. I tried it and it was a gat dang revelation. The skim and low-fat milks my mom raised me on were lies.

AL: The 80s and 90s were a sad, sad food-time to grow up. Probably the 70s too.

AR: A high percentage of my diet consists of peanut butter sandwiches, and nothing goes with it like milk does.

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Okay, this last round is a tough one. For my final pick, I’m going with my heart and saying Shirley Temple.

AL: We’re on the Good Ship Lollipop!

KB: So sweet and yet so satisfying.

AR: When you’re a kid and going to a nice restaurant — the kind you look back on and realize wasn’t actually that nice but when you’re 5 it’s like the freaking Ritz — that’s your order.

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AL: exactly. They make you feel like a grown-up.

KB: Few drinks have that kind of emotional power.

AL: with your itchy tights and tiny little purse.

AR: The whole act of going to a restaurant when you’re a kid it’s gargantuan. You don’t take it for granted

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EVERY restaurant is a big deal when you’re a kid. And then you get to order a Shirley Temple, and suddenly you feel like you belong there

AL: and they come with a swizzle stick! or, at the very least, a fancy toothpick

AR: Like you’re one of the grownups. That fancy restaurant is your own 5-year old Copacabana. You’re Jimmy the Gent greasing palms and giving kisses.

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KB: We should all have such glam childhoods.

Photo: Mariha-kitchen (iStock)
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KB: Alright, this last one is near and dear to my heart because it’s something I drink with my mom every winter: Peppermint tea

AL: A classic

KB: It’s so comforting to me; it’s the beverage equivalent of a fuzzy afghan. Pretty great iced, too.

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AR: I’ve never been into peppermint tea. I’ve been an Earl Grey devotee since I was 10. Because, in my soul, I am either 5 or 85.

KB: Either way, have a Shirley Temple!

AR: But I can feel the vibe peppermint tea probably gives you. That calm. Tea isn’t a drink. Tea is a MOMENT.

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AL: when you’re at home in your pajamas

AR: Yeeesssss. When you come home and say you’re making yourself a cup of tea, what you’re saying is “We are shutting this bitch down. Done. Everything is done.”

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About the author

Kate Bernot

Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.

Aimee Levitt

Aimee Levitt is associate editor of The Takeout.

Allison Robicelli

Allison Robicelli is The Takeout staff writer, a former professional chef, host of The Robicelli Argument Clinic Podcast, the author of three books, and a swan meat influencer.