Fishtown’s identity tied to an iced tea container

Fishtown wooder. Credit: Charles Mostoller.
Arctic Splash Iced Tea should be known as Fishtown Wooder. Credit: Charles Mostoller

It’s not Fishtown’s drink, per se. It’s more like its trademark.

Call it Fishtown Wooder.

Arctic Splash Iced Tea — you know, those white cartons with the frosty blue lettering and brown bottom that litter the streets of the River Ward neighborhood — has more or less developed into Fishtown’s signature beverage.

How do we know? Check the streets. The crumpled and crushed cartons are in the gutters, storm drains, alleys.

“In front of a trash can,” said resident Courtney Bresler-Nowak. “That’s my favorite.”

The beverage seems to have a grip on Fishtown. So, what does it say about that neighborhood?

“I was actually an Arctic Splash this year for Halloween,” said Jill Betters, who runs the @Fishtown Twitter account. “And I was clearly an Arctic Splash container that had been thrown on the ground. I had some leaves on me. We wanted it to be as accurate as possible.”

“I don’t think there is anything special about the drink,” she added. “It’s basically sugar water, but for whatever reason it happens to be popular. And then bars caught on.”

Now, this specific brand of iced tea may be considered Fishtown’s favorite drink, but it needs some extra ingredients to be considered the neighborhood’s “juice.”

Enter Interstate Drafthouse, which sits just beyond the corner of East Girard Avenue and East Palmer Street.

A female bartender was cleaning up the crushed containers in the playground next door (damn kids), when inspiration struck.

The following day, “She just, like, brought in 10 Arctic Splashes and said, ‘I’m gonna do a special. It’s called the Fishtown Iced Tea,’” said bar co-owner Brandon Bitros.

Essentially, it was a Long Island ice tea in a paper container. The drinks sold out in an hour.

“It was just supposed to be like a one-night thing, as a joke,” Bitros said, “not something that would be our signature cocktail.”

So, what does the preference of beverage — and its alcoholic companion — say about the neighborhood?

“We need our own authentic brand of lifestyle drink,” Betters said.

“Here’s one for ya,” Bitros said. “Some customers had it as their signature cocktail drink at their wedding.”

Urban Dictionary

artic splash: an amazing drink or amazing iced tea that most fishtown people drink
hey im from fishtown and like artic splash

Fishtown Iced Tea

Triple Sec
A little bit of sour mix
A splash of Coca-Cola
Arctic Splash Iced Tea

Mix and serve in the original container to seal in the papery aftertaste.


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