To the bass of throbbing techno beats, liberally tattooed and pierced Berliners sip amber liquid from glass bottles as they fill the city’s dance floors. Clubbing is sport in the German cultural capital and its young citizens approach their weekends with deadset determination. To maintain the stamina required for full nights — and mornings — of dancing, many turn to Club-Mate, a carbonated beverage that has become a staple in the city’s club scene.
“Club mate is a hipster drink which is mostly consumed by wealthy young academic students and creative artists at night and during parties, whereas real mate is consumed nearly by an entire nation from rich to poor people. One is served with vodka at a club and the other is shared with everybody,” said Jan Werner, a German currently living in Argentina.
The drink is infused with yerba mate, that green leaf you see almost every Porteño sipping in plazas, at their desks, while walking down the street. South Americans have been drinking mate for centuries. Talk about being late to the trend, Berlin.
“We’ve bought our mate for over 20 years from Brazil by the same farmer. Because of this long business relationship, a little friendship has developed. We know that he treats his workers fairly. Also attention is paid to environmental protection and there are no pesticides used,” said Marcus Loscher, the owner of the Bavarian brewery where Club-Mate is made.
The beverage is sweeter than its South American inspiration as it contains sugar and glucose syrup. Club-Mate contains 0.4 percent yerba mate extract. Its energy-inducing powers are a result of the 100 mg of caffeine that each bottle contains.
The bottle’s label features a gaucho-looking dude sipping from a tall glass of ice. Where’s the gourd?
Club-Mate is just one product that proves how badly everyone else wishes they were Argentine. Think: American boys sporting light blue and white Messi jerseys or Madonna fans pretending to address an entire country.
Elisabeth Arnz, a German living in Buenos Aires, had some choice words for German “mate” drinkers: “I think most people that drink Club-Mate don’t have any idea what real mate is and how popular it is in Argentina. To me Club-Mate is just another hipster drink that has a lot more in common with Coca Cola than with mate común.”