The source of Scots’ strength is in Irn Bru, or “iron brew”. The neon orange alone wakes you up, and its similarity to Lucozade makes the Scots look like tough people who down energy drinks like cola. However, it is just soda and the power of the drink lies in its shock factor. I still prefer Coca Cola, and had not even noticed it in the fridges of supermarkets and corner shops until after my visit to Scotland in 2014.
A recent catch-up of The Big Bang Theory made me think of Sheldon’s “Fun With Flags”, which in turn reminded me that I had not updated my soft drinks of the world review series in a while. So next up is Kinnie, Malta’s favourite drink, unique in being natural rather than artificial, featuring herbal and bitter orange extracts. To be drunk chilled with ice cubes – my first taste of it in a hotel room in Malta was not chilled or watered down enough, and it was too bitter. At its optimum temperature, it is a refreshing alternative to over-sweet sodas and fizzy (lemon)-ades.
In the first week in my second term of this academic year, my knees were weakened in pleasure by the sight of some cans of Sarsae on the shelves in the Chinese supermarket Lung Wah Chong (41-42 Hythe Bridge Street, Oxford OX1 2EP). Sarsae was my favourite soft drink when I was a child living in Hong Kong, just ahead of Schweppes Cream Soda, and way ahead of Coca Cola and that lot. A Hong Kong brand (from food company Watson) of what is essentially sarsaparilla, I remember it being hard to find, even on the shelves of Chinese supermarkets in China. The summer before, I had been impressed with Nottingham when I visited, just because a tiny corner Chinese supermarket there stocked Sarsae. So I was overjoyed when I came across Sarsae in Oxford, and bought 6 cans in one go. However, my joy was not matched by the 3 friends to whom I gave cans to try. One, a Chinese mainlander, did not like it. Another, an American, found it too similar to good old American root beer. And the third, a Brit, thought it tasted “like medicine”. But drinking my first can early on in the term, I maintain that it still tasted as good as it did in my younger days. This soft drink, unlike Inca Kola, is not reviewed by Soda Tasting, so I hope that I’ve done this soft drink more justice.
Having gushed about the Japanese soft drink Marble Soda (actually called Ramune, or ラムネ) in my last post, I thought I should balance the records a bit by mentioning this not so nice soft drink I discovered a while ago at Camden Lock Market in London. This bottle of Inca Kola tried to make my eyes sparkle, but failed. Bubblegum is a nice way of describing the flavour; actually it tastes like bubblegum and cough medicine. “Golden” is a euphemism for toxic yellow. But this soft drink is more popular than coke in Peru! It is, after all, a Peruvian brand. Tired of my complaints? Listen to a more favourable review from Soda Tasting.