The 10 best fizzy drinks
We all know broccoli tastes like broccoli, ice is cold and Turkish delight is vile. Once you’ve tasted the building blocks of food you know what to expect when a meal is placed before you.
Modern chefs (led by The Godfather Ferran Adrià and Lord Blumenthal of Heston) know and rely on this acquired knowledge to trick our senses – producing dishes with a playful nature to surprise and delight the jaded adult palette.
As a child the first time we experience the magic of something confounding our food expectations is with pop.
That simple addition of CO2 to the liquid that we are familiar with changes the taste, mouth-feel and experience of that drink.
Call it pop, soft drink, soda or fizzy drink – it is the same thing – magic in a glass.
Place: Coffee Bar, Beatties department store, Wolverhampton.
Time: Any given Saturday between 1979-1984.
Menu: Ham sandwich and a limeade.
My first fizzy mistress and despite now rarely calling on her services, she has given me enough good times in my formative years to still have a place in my heart.
Preposterously coloured and flavoured like no real lime on earth, this was always the ‘wacky’ one in the canon of fruit ‘flavoured’ sparklers.
Seemingly wiped from society’s collective memory, this was the only cola beverage available at UK McDonalds until the early nineties. There is a generation of people whose request for a Coke with their Big Mac was met with a terse, ‘It’s McDonalds Cola you know’.
One sip was testament to that fact.
It was a pale imitation of The Real Thing – but somehow far more endearing for the fact that no one wants to remember it.
Diet Coke Black Cherry Vanilla
It seems preposterous whilst surrounded with so much choice, to try and remember when there was just one variety each of Coke and Pepsi.
No Diet, no Cherry, no Vanilla, no Lime, no Lemon, no Citrus Twist, no Zero, no Max – just two cans, one red, the other red and blue.
Little by little variety was foisted upon us, making us crave things we didn’t need and covet flavours that had no place in a can. My personal zenith in this chain of events was the discovery of Diet Coke Black Cherry Vanilla in a grocery store in New York. Available for just one year in the US – it was the happiest year of my pop life.
Q. What could be better than overly sugary carbonated beverages?
A. Overly sugary carbonated beverages that are clear!
Look! Look at it!! Have you ever seen anything like this before??
Apart from water.
And tonic water.
And cream soda.
But apart from them… how is this possible?
Like all fads, the clear cola burnt brightly but briefly, lasting just a few years in the early nineties. It was something different and a genuine talking point for kids and adults alike, albeit for a very short time, until they tasted it. Then they realised that it tasted pretty much like normal Pepsi and its colour, or lack of, was completely irrelevant.
It did however allow Coke to bring TaB to the UK market which holds a place in my heart for several reasons, including its Wikipedia entry – which states “according to the company, [it] had the flavour of cola.”
I suspect when colonial Australians first saw a platypus their response was of a similar ilk to mine after my first sip of cream soda: ‘But what is it?’. It’s vanilla… but fruity… and like nothing on earth. How? What? Why?
It’s the kind of fizzy drink that make you feel like you should be wearing a smoking jacket and reading an atlas.
It was the Eighties and my collection of day-glo socks was the finest possible (thanks to C&A). The shelves were filled with drinks that seem to have been there forever, rooted in the seventies with packaging to match. It was a grey world of single flavours, unexciting colas and the occasional pairing of complementary ingredients – we just weren’t prepared for what was to come.
FOUR FLAVOURS! In ONE drink!!
How could this be?
Quattro arrived with its distinctive, quadrant-themed packaging, its futuristic Duran Duran video-style advert and the best tag line of any product – ‘It’s a miracle but we’ve made it’.
It was half true – they had made it but it wasn’t actually a miracle, nor was it very nice. We didn’t care though – it had four flavours!!
R White’s Lemonade
Anybody of a certain age will have fond memories of this brand – not of the drink, after all how special can lemonade be? But of the advert. Resolutely set in the 1970s, this pyjama-wearing dad was a touchstone for a generation. He was a secret lemonade drinker and we were his late night voyeuristic drinking buddies.
Another marker of the generation gap, along with tapes, fountain pens and libraries is the pop brand Corona. To those who no longer wish to remember their own ages Corona will never be an overpriced Mexican beer but forever a brand of pop – with the familiar slogan ‘Every bubble’s passed its FIZZical!’. The first flavour produced by this Welsh company was Orangeade, whose one litre glass bottle I can still feel in my hand like an amputated limb.
Some things reek of holidays in the sun – the smell of factor 30, foreign coins, paprika flavoured crisps and Lemon Fanta.
For a long time this tangy thirst-quencher was unavailable in Blighty, so for most Brits it was a once-a-year holiday experience – the cold sharpness a refreshing shelter from the unfamiliar heat. Sadly this benefit became a moot point when they introduced it into the UK in 2001.
Limeade’s bohemian cousin was the garishly dressed Cherryade. It introduced you to cherry flavour – which is not to be confused with the flavour of cherries.
Modern wisdom has reinvented Cherryade as shorthand for cheap and tasteless, the preserve of children’s birthday parties and for those whose palettes are less than sophisticated. Whilst it may have lost ground to the colas and bottle-fermented ginger beers beloved of the middle-classes – it is everything pop should be; frivolous, inexpensive, childish and indulgent.