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 3: Soda Flavors ~ Dandelion & Burdock And Ginger Beer

This is Page 3 of a five-page review. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.




Fentimans Dandelion & Burdock

Dandelion & Burdock is a traditional British soft drink, traditionally made from fermented dandelion and burdock roots (the latter, now out of favor in European cuisine, is popular in Japanese, where it is known as gobo). It is a root-based soda in the manner of root beer and sarsaparilla, which have similar flavors. As with cola, these root drinks were originally brewed for medicinal purposes.

Natural, full-strength infusions of dandelion and burdock have a much more distinctive flavor and aroma than artificially-flavored, mass-marked versions found in the U.K. The moment you open the bottle, the aromas of anise (like licorice) and black cherry waft up. On the palate, you’ll also taste a hint of ginger. It’s like a very elegant, understated interpretation of Dr. Pepper (or rather, Dr. Pepper is an overblown interpretation of a D & B).

  • Enjoy it straight and sassy.
  • In the U.K., the DB&G mixes D & B with gin.


Fentimans Dandelion & Burdock
The green tops of dandelion and burdock make a great salad, but the roots make a nifty soft drink.
Fentimans Ginger Beer
Such a sizzling drink, no alcohol is needed!

Fentimans Ginger Beer

The recipe that started it all (and the company’s best-known product) has a wonderful ginger “burn” (we prefer to think of it as a “sizzle”) that comes from the finest Chinese ginger root, fermented and brewed. If you like ginger, or want a stiffer drink than a pallid ginger ale (no matter how fine the brand, it pales in comparison to this), try it.

Ginger beer has been brewed largely as a soft drink, although sometimes as an alcoholic beverage, since the 1700s. It originated in England, flavored primarily with ginger root, lemon, sugar and ginger beer plant, which is a fungus that contains specific yeast and bacteria that help with the fermentation.

By the early 1900s, at the beginning of Thomas Fentiman’s soft drink venture, ginger beer was a popular beverage. What’s the difference between ginger beer and ginger ale? By the early 1800s, the terms were used interchangeably, but as time went on, ginger beer became associated with the spicier brews.*

*Source: Reed’s Ginger Beer.

And spicy, Fentimans Ginger Beer is. You’ll taste the fermented ginger root, the lemon, and if you try hard, the juniper (the berry used to make gin). The recipe includes other botanicals as well. While in a dark bottle, Ginger Beer is clear, the color of tonic water.

Oh, but the taste! Imagine many times the ginger buzz of a ginger ale and a fraction of the sugar. Spicy in that gingery kind of way, yet cool and refreshing and barely sweetened, this is a thrill ride of an adult soft drink. Those refraining from alcohol won’t notice it doesn’t have any. In the wine biz, the length of time the flavor stays on the palate is know as the finish (other industries call it the aftertaste). This finish lasts for about 15 minutes! It’s not just a drink, it’s a recreational activity. We love ginger beer in general, but we think Fentimans has spoiled us.

  • Fentimans Ginger Beer is a great pairing for any Asian food. 
  • As a cocktail, Bourbon & Ginger Beer is a classic; the Moscow Mule should wow those who like vodka.
  • Try a shot of brandy topped off with Ginger Beer and lime juice.
  • For a tall fall drink, mix 2 shots brandy:3 shots apple juice, then top it off with Ginger Beer and lime juice.


Continue To Page 4: Orange Jigger & Shandy

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