A press release heralding a new restaurant in Atlanta crossed my email inbox recently. Everything seemed pretty standard at first: Holeman and Finch Public House, opening April 14, intends to serve “food and drink … with unrivaled quality and care.” The chef evidently revels in “whole-animal preparations” and plans to make his own “charcuterie such as coppa, bresaola, and tom thumbs.”

Coke. Photo: Samuel Wong via Flickr

Sounds good to me. I applaud nose-to-tail cookery, as well as the move toward small-scale artisanal sausage making. All very trendy, and not a bad thing at all — as long as the meat is sourced from humane, ecologically minded farms. Then came this:

The hand-chosen 75-vintage wine list features small production, boutique wineries that emphasize quality and value.

There’s some weird pretension at work there. “Hand-chosen” wine? But hey, I enjoy a nice glass of wine as much as the next generally quite populist food snob. Then something odd crept into the press release:

The serving dishes will include rustic cheese boards, sturdy ceramics, and a debut line of never-before-seen cast iron pieces from Lodge cookware.

Wow. Rather then fetishizing ingredients and the farms they hail from — not a word about sourcing — these folks are fetishizing serving dishes. Product placement: not just for Hollywood anymore. And then this:

Holeman and Finch will serve as a testing lab for Coca-Cola’s “Perfect Serve,” a unique return to the art of serving Atlanta’s greatest original beverage.

Hmmm. Apparently this “artisanal” restaurant — with its “cozy, intimate space [that] will seat just sixty lucky sippers” — has hopped into bed with the globe’s largest beverage conglomerate.

Perfect Serve,” it turns out, is some sort of marketing scheme designed to revive Coke’s reputation among gourmet types. That’s a tough slog for artificially blackened and carbonated water, flavored mainly with chemicals, and sweetened with ultra-processed, genetically modified corn. Coke consists of:

Carbonated water
High fructose corn syrup
Caramel color
Phosphoric acid
Natural flavors
Caffeine

Phosphoric acid is charming stuff. It’s known to decrease bone density in people who regularly consume it.

Undaunted, the press release writer made a stab at eloquence to describe the beverage’s alleged grandeur:

The Perfect Serve of Coca-Cola is a special and unique experience that brings romance to one of the South’s finest creations: Coca-Cola. The experience appeals to all five of the senses. The Perfect Serve is about releasing the magical, ice-cold taste of the Coca-Cola secret formula, enjoyed from the unique contour bell glass and served with the perfect ritual. And of course, where and how the Coca-Cola will be enjoyed makes all the difference. Here at Holeman & Finch, Coca-Cola will be consumed in the perfect environment.

For those interested, here’s a creepy little video that shows the restaurant’s owners waxing euphoric about Coke’s virtues while a company marketing dude cheers them on.