2007_05_twelvebev.jpg It must be the warmer weather: there’s been a lot posted on Gothamist this week about drinks, from limey gin fizzes to detox smoothies; from aguas frescas to wine made in Queens. Today, as part of our continuing summer beverage coverage, we present some strange and fancy sodas.

Airforce Nutrisodas come in eight different fruit flavored varieties, each styled with a wellness-themed end result, wishful thinking a la Vitamin Water: “Radiant” is pomegranate and blackberry flavored, with L-Arginine for skin elasticity; “Focus” is mango and peach, with Inositol and Choline. All Nutrisoda varieties are sugar free, making them a good choice for diabetics. Additionally, Nutrisoda contains a good amount of vitamins, amounts and ratios varying from flavor to flavor. The “Renew” variety (Watermelon and Blueberry, with some amino acids), for example, contains 200% of the RDA for both B6 and B12 per 8.4 oz. can, setting it apart somewhat from the folly of Diet Coke Plus, which contains 15% RDA in an 8 oz. serving. Nutrisoda Renew is also the first soda to contain soluble fiber. The bad news: all Nutrisoda flavors have the tongue-coating tang of artificial sweetener (Sucralose), but the variety and ambition of those flavors make the product hard to dismiss outright. Think of the Nutrisoda line as a more metrosexual, less petulant version of the Red Bull family tree. $2 a can; click here for retail locations.

The ungoogleable Twelve was served earlier this month at the James Beard Foundation Awards reception. Twelve is a fizzy mix of blended teas, herbs, spices, and fruit juice. Right now it only comes in one variety/one flavor, though a second version will follow this fall when the beverage is officially released. The taste test verdict? By itself, Twelve kind of tastes like the twice-removed cousin of ginger ale, perhaps even one who joined the Peace Corps right out of college, and has the stories to prove it. Clear? Didn’t think so. Twelve is amber-pink; it’s tasty without being sweet; it lacks the ostentatious pepper of Chai, and has around 50 calories per 8 oz. serving. It’s fancy stuff; 28% real fruit juice, and proud of it.

2007_05_nutrisoda.jpgComing in one size only- a frosted 750 ml bottle with a screw top cap- Twelve is made for mixing, and is currently only available through specialty purveyors such as The Chef’s Warehouse, where it’s sold by the case. Twelve is an enigma of a utility beverage; it’s being marketed as an alternative to alcoholic drinks, but is really a workhorse mixer. In cocktails, its already subtle flavors kind of disappear like white noise into the background, seemingly no matter how much or how little you use. With a little fresh lime juice and some vodka, this stuff can make anyone seem like a genius mixologist. $5 a bottle/12 bottles to case at The Chef’s Warehouse.

In a world where it seems everything that can(s) is made into soda (or is it pop?)- from The Sopranos homestyle Chianti, to Jones Soda Turkey & Gravy- these beverages are neither either edgy or weird. The soft drink industry represents nothing less than a microcosm of the restaurant industry itself: of the hundreds of launches, very few will actually make it past the first few years. Interestingly enough, the connection between the two brands and New York chefs is also strong: David Burke extols the virtues of Twelve on its website, and Landmarc’s Marc Murphy appears in Nutrisoda ads that run in Food Arts, and other trade magazines. All roads seem to converge when soda gets smart.