Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda does not contain pot. But 28-year-old soda jerk Matt Moody, the drink's inventor, insists that Mary Jane lives up to its name. "It's not a high, but it would be close to draw a comparison and that was kind of its nickname," he says. "The effects are being relaxed and slowed down."
Kava and Passion Flower herbs give this strange brew its calming and euphoric effects, says Moody, who discovered Kava while working at a nutrition store, and then began mixing it in drinks. "The first time I mixed a relaxation soda was back in college," he remembers. "Kava is a unique herb that has been used for thousands of years in the South Pacific, and it's just kind of this hidden gem. Passion Flower worked great in the soda, too, and I didn't want it to be all about the Kava, but it's mostly about the Kava. The Passion Flower is more of a sidekick."
Although Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda is distributed out of Denver, it's not on shelves here; the drink is stocked in stores in only a handful of states, including California and Kansas. "We had to pick where we wanted to put it, so we chose to put it in a lot of independent cafés and bars to build a following," Moody says. "But apparently, we didn't really need to do that."
That's because the drink, which debuted online on July 1, was a virtual hit from the start. "When we sent out the first press release, we sold out of our first two runs in 48 hours and then we didn't have any product to give out," Moody recalls. "We were bogged down from our on-line orders and it slowed down the process of getting it on the shelves. We never imagined selling glass bottles of soda online -- that's just the way it happened."
Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda tastes like a cross between a cola and a tea, but it's thicker and has more syrup than regular cola and the herbal blend leaves a strong aftertaste. That's why Moody recommends drinking it ice-cold, preferably from an icy beer mug.
A Mary Jane tea should be introduced after the first of the year and also available online. But Moody hopes that Denverites will soon be able to order Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda at a couple of local spots: He says the company is talking with the Tattered Cover and Tokyo Joe's about adding the drink to their offerings.