I have heard every major city argue that they have a heinous population of hipsters, and that their hipsters are unique and awful. Brooklyn, San Francisco, Austin; I have lived alongside Los Angeles hipsters, who are a magnificently infuriating sub-species that cannot be reproduced elsewhere, but are nevertheless still just hipsters. Seattle doesn’t quite show up to the Department of Hipsters Faculty Meeting the way others do, they are stuck in a charming and dated spiral of a post-grunge, lingering goth thing. But then there is Portland, Oregon.
There is actually a reason for the TV series Portlandia. It is not inaccurate. There is a well-educated smugness laying over the city like a vintage Pendleton blanket. There is a joke/not-joke here about “when Olympia moved to Portland” and indeed, I know a lot of people in Portland whom I knew here, in Olympia, back in the day. And the one thing they do, in all their vintage boutiquing, chicken cooping, streetside composting, gourmet food trucking bumptiousness that drives me insane is that they never stop talking about how fucking perfect Portland is.
“All I ask for is a decent goddamn donut shop,” I wrote on my Facebook page one day (my private one, not the Anger Burger one – don’t go fact-checking, you’ll be disappointed). MOVE TO PORTLAND my friend in Portland writes, as though that were helpful¹. And after complaining about healthier energy drinks, my friend Jason tells me: DRINK VISO. IT IS MADE IN PORTLAND AND YOU CAN ONLY GET IT IN PORTLAND. WOE IS THE FOOL THAT CANNOT DRINK VISO. I may be putting some words in Jason’s mouth, but that is the gist of it.
This last summer I was at a local store and did a double-take at a beverage cooler case. There on the shelf were three cans of Viso. I had never seen them before, only heard of them. And here we were, 120 miles from Portland. It must be some kind of mistake – surely Portland wouldn’t allow one of its precious products outside the fortress walls? I bought one, and a few hours later drank it. And then went back and bought the other two at the store because it was fucking delicious, and asked them when they would be getting more. Never, they said. The distributor wasn’t answering their phone calls. I write Viso and asked them if they were distrubuting to anywhere in Olympia. They didn’t answer. I wrote again. They didn’t answer. Their Facebook page is a sea of crazed Viso fans asking questions, complaining about availability of favorite products, and all without answer from Viso. As near as I could tell, Viso didn’t really exist.
And then a few days ago it shows up at my local Co-Op. The label is different, the flavors different. The flavor I tried before was “Will” a sour cherry and grapefruit flavor, now it is cranberry and grapefruit. The sugar-free flavors are now stevia instead of sucralose. So it would appear that Viso has quietly reinvented itself in preparation for — I assume — national distribution, with preliminary accounts in Wholefoods in the Pacific Northwest (in addition to my local Olympia Co-Op). I certainly don’t recommend ordering from their website, as a case costs $21 with SEVENTEEN DOLLARS SHIPPING. You are fucking kidding me, you guys.
Speaking of caffeine, each bottle contains 300mg, which is the equivalent of three and a half small cans of Redbull, or between four and five shots of espresso. So, basically it’s a fucking disaster in a bottle. And I love it. The flavors are truly well-balanced: faintly sweet-sour, and bitter and mineral from the caffeine and vitamins. It’s a poor description, but they taste, well, real. Like fruit juice and vitamins. And 300mg of caffeine? Holy shit. I basically live in an eternal state of sleepiness, like some nodding junky without any of the fun heroin parts. The last few days of having a Viso around for quick drinks here and there have left me productive and alert. My god, the possibilities. I may now have the energy to shower every day!
So, I am sorry if you can’t find it, but I have a hunch that you will be able to within the next year. Keep a lookout for them and remember after drinking one to take a couple laps around the block just to keep from tearing your own eyelids off.
¹ As an aside, Voodoo Donuts? Total bullshit. I’d rather have a Krispy Kreme served to me by a pleasantly bored teenager after I have stood in line for zero minutes.November 5th, 2012 | Food Rant