It was meant to be—a product tie-in so perfect that there was really no way they couldn’t make it: HBO’s Tru Blood carbonated drink. For those who haven’t watched the series (or read the books), let me catch you up: There are lots of vampires. They live openly alongside mankind, thanks to the invention of Tru Blood, a synthetic that allows them to survive without feasting on the actual blood of humans or other animals.
In the show, most vampires don’t seem to really like how Tru Blood tastes. They choke it down—most like it served warm—only because they want to live in peace with those pesky humans. So how does a company make a drink in the real world that mimics the taste of badly mimicked blood? Why, with blood oranges, of course!
Here’s what the HBO Shop has to say about its exclusive, expensive product: “It’s official! The Tru Blood drink has now been ‘de-fictionalized’ and emerges into reality as a delicious blood orange carbonated drink. Meticulously crafted, the Tru Blood Drink is an exact replica of the bottle design as seen on True Blood. The 14 oz glass Tru Blood bottle is stained in a rich red, with raised Tru Blood English lettering and matching Japanese Kanji. This blood orange flavored soda is slightly tart, lightly sweet and subtly carbonated. Designed to taste great while matching the appearance of Bill’s favorite drink, the drink pours like a regular soda, but with the standing appearance in a glass is stormy and mysterious.”
Yeah, that’s a little bit over the top, and the English gets fractured at the end, but it does make a good point: The bottle looks exactly like the one on the show, and it’s pretty hefty and impressive. Obviously this drink is aimed more at True Blood fanatics who want to keep it on a shelf than those who might want to drink it on a regular basis. That’s probably a good thing, because get this: A four-pack costs $16 plus “special shipping,” which pushes the cost of one bottle above $5. At least it tastes pretty decent. Better than Brawndo, in any case.
The taste: Across the board, reactions to the taste of Tru Blood were pretty positive. It’s definitely not just some crappy orange soda squirted into a classy bottle. It’s made with cane sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup, and it’s not overly sweet, like most orange-flavored stuff. It looked deceptively thick when poured, but not insanely so. Several people mentioned its taste similarity to SweetTarts, which is apt.
We wouldn’t be good Taste Testers if we didn’t find out how Tru Blood tastes as a mixer, so we grabbed the available alcohol in the office and made some drinks. Tequila (for some reason, Jun had a tiny airplane-serving bottle in his desk) was far and away the winner, making for a tasty margarita-like concoction with a pretty color and a great mix of sweet and tart. Because we still had the Bakon vodka sitting around (no surprise there) that was also mixed in, to terrible ends. (Brett suggested that we finally found the recipe for the drink we’ve been trying to create, The Bloody Band-Aid.) Three Olives brand grape vodka was a bit better. It tastes like liquid Dimetapp to begin with, so Tru Blood cut the sweetness.
Overall, we liked Tru Blood, but nobody would even consider paying $5 for a bottle, unless it guaranteed immortality and a date with Sookie, Bill, Lafayette, or all three.
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- “It’s actually refreshing. This is the first drink we’ve taste-tested in forever where I feel like I could drink a whole bottle of it. Am I a vampire yet?”
- “This is actually really good. It’s a little sweeter and a little less sharp than most orange soda. It doesn’t get up my nose as much. But it’s richer and fruitier.”
- “Tastes like a carbonated cough syrup… not too sweet, honestly not that bad. Might be good mixed with ginger ale or plain vodka—not the bacon crap.”
- “It’s thicker than I expected (that’s what she said!), but I guess that goes with the blood theme. However, it’s a little more syrupy than I’d like, so it would actually probably be better watered down. Maybe mixed with Sprite. Or booze, obviously.”
- “I think the thickness is what made it a good mixer with the tequila. Put that in a fancy glass and throw some colored salt on the rim, and you’ve got a $9 specialty margarita.”
- “The flavor is a nice sweet-sour balance, but there’s a mildly artificial aftertaste, which is weird considering it’s made with cane sugar.”
- “Very good with the grape vodka. Tasted like the purple juice ‘relax’ drink, minus the sluggish side effects.”
- “Tasted like carbonated Hawaiian Punch.”
- “I will still never watch the show.”
- “It’s chalky. Probably why it tastes like ground-up Smarties.”
- “Tru Blood and Vio have similar problems. Both are overly sweet and rich, taste artificial, and are carbonated for no good reason.”
- “Tastes like a melted cherry Slurpee.”
- “With bacon vodka, it tastes like biting a live pig, which I suppose is pretty vampire-like.”
- “With grape vodka, it’s actually a shot I might give a girl at the bar.”
- “I guess fans of the series will find this kitschy, but my appraiser tells me my Addams Family collectors’ cups aren’t worth shit.”
- “If real blood tasted like this, all vampires would have dentures instead of fangs. Am I right, people?”
Where to get it: Exclusively at the HBO online store, store.hbo.com.