Tom Hanks Mixed Diet Coke with Champagne and We Have Feelings

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest Tom Hanks during Monday’s January 9, 2023 show. Photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS ©2023 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Image Courtesy of Scott Kowalchyk / CBS

Actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks can do just about anything, and he recently added making a viral cocktail to his list of accomplishments. While chatting with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the actor revealed that he had accidentally invented a new cocktail: a concoction of Diet Coke and Champagne, which he named “Diet Cokagne.” And though we love him for trying, Wine Enthusiast staff have some thoughts about this new cocktail.

And by thoughts, we mean strong stances. Some wondered if this was a questionable play on Pepsi’s holiday campaign around “Pilk”—that’s a mixture of milk and Pepsi—while others were simply dumbfounded by the combination. Some were not-so-slightly heartbroken by Hanks’s unconventional use of a pricey bottle.

“You have Diet Coke, and then you’re introducing something that has sugar and effervescence in it, so what are you really chasing here?” says Wine Enthusiast Tasting Director Anna-Christina Cabrales. She also takes issue with the (mis)use of such a nice bottle of bubbly.

“You’re taking something completely dry and pairing it with artificial sweeteners and then adding a product that required years to be made,” Cabrales continues. “With Champagne, I give it so much respect simply because it takes years to produce.”

“You want to enjoy the nuances of Champagne,” she adds. “Why kill them?”

Next time, Cabrales suggests that Hanks pair his go-to Diet Coke with a bottle of Prosecco or a domestic sparkling wine instead.

“If it’s just a fancy feeling you’re going for and that brings you joy, go for it,” Cabrales says. “But there are other sparkling wines out there that are more affordable, can do something similar, may not be nearly as nuanced and can do the same thing for you.”

Where Did Diet Cokagne Come From?

During the interview with Colbert, the talk show host asked Hanks to elaborate on his new “Hanks family tradition.” Hanks explained that the drink’s invention took place at The Café Carlyle Jazz Restaurant in New York City. Hanks and his crew “had a celebratory bottle of Champagne brought by,” although Hanks clarified that he isn’t typically a “big drinker” and usually opts for a Diet Coke.  

But, as the servers walked around pouring Champagne flutes for his family, Hanks said, “Oh, give me a shot of Champagne in there for fun.” Everybody around him told him he was “insane,” but he wanted to celebrate with his family. “Stephen, it was delicious,” Hanks said as the audience erupted in laughter. 

“We have a Tom Collins. We have a Tom Hanks,” Colbert said in reply. But Hanks rejected the name, saying that he’d already dubbed the combo “Diet Cokagne.” And thus, a legendary new drink was born.

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How Do You Make a Diet Cokagne?

Colbert and Hanks sampled the concoction live on television together. Hanks noted that he opts for Diet Coke because he’s type-2 diabetic. “What better for type-2 diabetes than a little shot of Champagne in your Diet Coke?” he joked.

Hanks explained how to make the drink: Fill your glass with about one-third of the Diet Coke can, or “any Cola product.” Then, top the rest of the glass with Champagne.

“It’s like an American Aperol Spritz,” Colbert jabbed.

How Does a Diet Cokagne Taste?

Champagne and Coke
Image Courtesy of Rachel Tepper Paley

According to Hanks, the combo is delicious. Even Colbert seemed surprised to report that it wasn’t awful. After mouthing “Wow,” to Hanks, the actor responded, “How about that? Everyone at the table tried it and said, ‘Ooh, you know what Dad? That’s pretty good.'”

Colbert agreed. “It’s strangely, strikingly, shamefully good, because it’s so refreshing,” he said.

If that wasn’t enough, TODAY With Hoda and Jenna co-hosts Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager took on the drink, too. The two less than enthusiastically poured their own glasses to see how it would taste.

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“It’s kind of good,” Kotb said, looking surprised. Hager agreed, adding, “Wait a minute. It’s like a Coke float.” The two said though they wouldn’t make the drink again, it tastes “not as sweet” as classic Coke.  Finally, Hager joked, “Tom Hanks can do anything.”

After all that hype, Wine Enthusiast Digital Managing Editor Rachel Tepper Paley decided to put the combo to the test. “I struggle with a somewhat shameful Diet Coke habit, and I had a split of cava knocking around, so I figured why not?” She reports that the drink was especially fizzy at first pour, but seemed to lose effervescence rather quickly. It did look rather nice in a long Tom Collins glass, though.

“For a second, I thought Hanks might be onto something,” she says. Then she took a sip. “Look, I’m not trying to yuck anyone’s yum here, but it’s giving Red Bull and Coke. More power to you if that’s your jam, but I’ll drink my Diet Coke and sparkling wine separately from here on out, thanks very much.”

Published on January 13, 2023
Topics: Trends