Nope, the name Club-Mate has nothing to do with a night club buddy – although this is pretty much the drink’s role in Berlin’s party scene. Club-Mate is a caffeinated, non-alcoholic soft drink based on the South American yerba mate plant. Despite its main ingredient, its origin lies in the center of Germany where the Loscher brewery runs the productions.
Club-Mate has been around since the 1920s already, known as “Sekt-Bronte” back then. Though it was only in the last decade that the energy drink started a crazy hype. After it had first taken off in the hacker scene, Berlin club-goers discovered the soda and its energizing effect for their excessive partying – because “Kreuzberger Nächte sind lang…” (Kreuzberg’s nights are long), as an old German song goes.
Whoever has tried mate in Latin America will realize quickly that the taste of the German energy drink only has a slight resemblance to the original tea. The German soft drink is less bitter and more sugary. The soda has a rather high amount of caffeine – about twice as much as Coca Cola. Due to that, it functions as a popular alternative to other energizing drinks like Red Bull or Monster. At the same time, it has a way more natural taste to it.
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Drinking Club-Mate like a real Berliner
While many young people drink plain Club-Mate during the day for pure refreshment like Coca Cola or a substitute for coffee, it is usually consumed as a mix drink in bars and night clubs. The most popular version is Vodka Mate with a shot of vodka, as the name implies. It is very common that people receive a full bottle of Club-Mate at the counter from which they first have to take a hearty gulp. Like this, the bar tender can top it up with vodka. Another beloved blend is “Turbo-Mate”, Club-Mate mixed with sparkling wine, a great refreshing beverage for daytime drinking in summer.
With the soft drink’s growing popularity, the brewery has also diversified its range and added new variations. These are Club-Mate ICE-T-Kraftstoff with a higher caffeine concentration, a summery version called Club-Mate Granat refined with pomegranate, as well as Club-Mate Winter-Edition with Christmas spices.
When you try Berlin’s most popular party drink, make sure to give it several goes. It is a bit of an unusual taste that many people first have to get used to!
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