Atlanta's labyrinth of windy streets and twisted interstates are full of a myriad of tourist destinations. There's the famous aquarium, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Museum and another center dedicated to the work of former president Jimmy Carter. You can drool over a shrine to Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell or you can cruise through the behind-the-scenes halls at CNN.
We decided to explore and celebrate another American icon: Coca-Cola.
Coke was invented in 1886 by an Atlanta inventor and druggist. The city has long heralded its prominence in the history of the most recognizable beverage on the planet, and so it is no surprise that popaholics can tour a museum there dedicated to the fizzy beverage.
We cruised through the Coca-Cola Museum on a steamy, Saturday afternoon in Hot-lanta. The promise of an international beverage buffet at the end of the tour was the motivation for our pouring over hundreds of Coke related signage, art and other inspired works.
Finally, after a couple movies (including one interactive version with jerking seats and sprays of water) we made it to Taste It!, the refreshing portion of the venue.
Inside a grand hall you're handed a plastic cup and invited to try up to 70 Coke products from countries around the world. The tasting stations look like suped up soda fountains and are arranged by continent (North America, South America, Asia, Europe and Africa). A sixth area is dedicated purely to the Coke brand and its variations, like Cherry Coke and Coke Zero.
Some of the international flavors were predictable: Fanta in a wide variety of flavors, Canada Dry ginger ale. Others were very exotic in nature - fruity, carbonated flavors and other concoctions laced with herbs and spices.
I can't remember any of the foreign names, save for one - a beverage so bad, so offensive it burned its name into my brain for all eternity.
Just typing the word out makes me want to induce vomit.
A name that betrays your instincts - it teases with visions of beautifully manicured lawns and glittery cocktail parties around vast pools of cerulean blue. But no, Beverly is none of that.
Beverly is lighter fluid and car exhaust and kerosene.
Beverly is iodine, syrup of ipecac and turpentine.
Beverly tastes just like the drippings caught by the rubber mats lining the bar at the neighborhood watering hole.
Okay, so I don't really know what those remnants taste like.
But I do know what Beverly tastes like (despite the cries of my brother-in-law, who warned me to steer clear of that soda fountain) and I hope to never taste it again.
After some intense research (a.k.a. trolling Google), I discovered Beverly is a bitter, citrus beverage that's meant to be an aperitif before heavy meals. That said, I'd take a ginger ale or Sprite any day over the purely disgusting nature of this Italian soda.
And apparently I'm not alone.
This guy does not love everything, despite the title of his blog. Alex tried Beverly at a similar beverage sampling set-up in Vegas. It turns out Coke has introduced the world to Beverly at venues in Las Vegas and also at Disney's Epcot Center. Message boards lambaste Beverly for its intense, bitter flavor that does well to inflict a person's gag reflex.
And they're all pretty much spot on.
I'd dare say Beverly is one of the greatest crimes against humanity, at least where the beverage industry is concerned.
Here's a quick video that captures the typical reaction to tasting The Beverly.
This kid struggled with drinking ten glasses of The Beverly on his high school band trip to Epcot.
People all over the world wide web have uploaded videos of their exploits with The Beverly. Others have fired off passionate blogs about the most horrendous flavor to pass their lips.
But never fear: even further internet searching turns up global travelers who've never even seen the wretched Beverly in Italy.
So I guess I'm safe when I go to Rome someday.