Let’s face facts: It’s just plain fun to drink from a straw stuck in a hollowed-out pineapple. Especially when the libation in question is the fruity, ultra-fresh, rum-free piña colada ($7), a whirl of coconut milk, fresh pineapple juice and ice (dashed with cinnamon and a splash of vanilla extract) that is the hallmark of Manny’s Tortas. (Food Building).
The Peoples Organic counter, tucked inside the French Meadow Bakery & Cafe (Carnes Av. and Underwood St.) is the in-the-know place for the fair’s best iced tea ($3.50), a brightly flavored, wonderfully unsweetened black currant brew. The shop-within-a-shop is also a destination for a fantastic (and similarly not-sugary) lemonade that’s soothed with cucumber ($5), and a whole range of well-crafted iced lattes, mochas and macchiatos ($4.50 to $5), which can be made with almond, soy, coconut or hemp milk for an additional $1.50.
There are lemonades up and down the length of the fairgrounds, but none comes close to the slushy-minty fabulousness of the Mediterranean Lemonade ($4) at Holy Land (International Bazaar).
For 120 years, Spring Grove Soda Pop (Nelson St. and Judson Av.) has been bottling a bevy of nostalgia-inducing, flavor-saturated sodas in vivid, Sunday comics colors, and the fair has ’em, at $3 a pop, if you’ll pardon the expression. Buy three or more, and the per-soda price drops to $2. There are nine flavors, and while strawberry is the company’s perennial No. 1 seller, black cherry, cream soda, lemon sour and rhuberry (rhubarb-strawberry) are the fair’s most popular flavors, said vice president Bob Hansen. Oh, and root beer. “It’s crazy how much root beer we’re selling,” he said.