Top Pick Of The Week

September 23, 2008

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Fentimans Soda

Fentimans is ready to show you what soda pop tasted like in the good old days. In Curiosity Cola, Dandelion & Burdock, Ginger Beer, Mandarin & Seville Orange Jigger, Shandy and Victorian Lemonade. Photography by Emily Chang | THE NIBBLE.

WHAT IT IS: Botanically brewed soft drinks from England.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Natural fermentation instills unique flavor and character. The beverages are .5% alcohol by volume, but classified as soft drinks and consumable by children—you don’t taste the alcohol. It’s the only botanically brewed and fermented beverage available in the U.S.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The unfiltered, old-fashioned flavors and physical beauty of the bottles are a treat. Most flavors make great cocktail mixers  as well.
WHERE TO BUY IT:  At many fine retailers nationwide, and

Fentimans Brewed Soda:
Pop Crew Circa 1905

Page 2: Soda Flavors ~ Cola

This is Page 2 of a five-page review. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.




Botanically Brewed Soda

Unlike most soft drinks, where water is mixed with syrup or various flavorings and sweeteners, and then carbonated, it takes seven days to brew a bottle of Fentimans. The product starts with an extended brew and fermentation, then the alcohol is centrifuged off. Then another brew begins in which other botanicals (herbs, roots, fruits or other natural ingredients) are added to the brew. The line uses real sugar and carbonated spring water, not high fructose corn syrup and municipal water.

Fentimans Curiosity Cola

Many spirits were originally developed as healing tonics, not as recreational beverages. (They warmed up people with chills, although perhaps their greatest contribution was to render the truly sick unconscious.)

Colas originated in apothecaries as patent medicines—elixirs which claimed cures for everything from indigestion to mental illness to impotence. The large dose of sugar they contained was to make the other ingredients palatable. Over time, they were added to carbonated water, also believed to have healthy properties, like the naturally-carbonated water at mineral springs. Some early carbonated beverages were called “phosphates,” after one of the salts used to carbonate water.

If Fentimans’s Curiosity Cola is a curiosity, it is for none of these reasons; but, in our opinion, because it is so good, it is a curiosity compared to what usually passes for cola in supermarkets.

Fentimans Curiosity Cola
Beyond curious, it’s celestial. Are you thirsting for a sip?

Hark back to the cola of yore. The original Coca-Cola recipe, which has evolved over the years, contained, among other ingredients, the flavors cinnamon, coca (the decocainized flavor essence of the coca leaf, still in today’s recipe), coriander, lemon, lime, neroli (the spicy and flowery essence of bitter orange), nutmeg, orange and vanilla. The bouquet and aroma of Curiosity Cola evoke the complexity of that original. In the nose and on the palate, it is easy to pick out cinnamon, ginger, lime, nutmeg and vanilla. There’s also something herbal going on that we can’t put a name to, and other aromas and flavors that our senses could not pick out from the bouquet. The flavors are layered upon dancing effervescence. Those whose palates are numbed to the high fructose corn syrup and chemicals in mass-marketed colas won’t know what to make of it. Those who find it as thrilling as we do won’t be ale to stop drinking it.

Curiosity Cola is also invigorating—not just because of the caffeine, but due to the addition of catuaba* and guarana extracts. If the culinary gods mixed up a cola, this would be it.

  • Drink it straight.
  • Have a glorious Cuba Libre, a.k.a. a Rum & Coke.
  • Use Curiosity Cola as a mixer in any drink requiring cola.

*The bark of a Brazilian tree, the extract of which is used as a stimulant.


Continue To Page 3: Fentimans Dandelion & Burdock Soda

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