Jason Toon


quality posts: 19 Private Messages Jason Toon

You can tell we're geeks because we drink way more soda than we should. I've been locked in a death-dance with the fizzy Jezebel for my entire life. My temptress currently wears the mask of Coke Zero - something about its crisp, ascetic cola flavor speaks to my soul. Plus, it's not sticky when you spill it (no sugar, see?).

But one nagging concern keeps me from fully enjoying my soda jags: what if there's something out there that's even better? What keeps coders and copywriters awake in Bogota, Bangkok, and Birmingham? There's a whole world of canned, bottled, and, for all I know, bagged beverages that I've never dared to explore. Will I find a new, exotic love to excite my palate and share my mini-fridge? I assembled the St. Louis Woot crew to help find out...

2010-03-10 15.07.10

Inca Kola
Country of Origin: Peru, but now owned by Coca-Cola.
Color: radioactive cream.
Texture: fizzier than the typical American soda.
Flavor: like bubble-gum - specifically, the cheap, dusty slabs of pink gum you used to get with a pack of baseball cards - but much, much sweeter.
Notes: somewhere between cream soda and a diabetic coma, Inca Kola's effervescent sugar onslaught has made it the top soft drink in Peru for decades. Maybe it's the altitude.
Would we drink it again?: if you're thirsty in Cuzco, you could do a lot worse.

2010-03-10 15.38.02

Foco Dragon Fruit Juice Drink
Country of Origin: Thailand.
Color: Cloudy.
Texture: Extra-chunky with bonus seeds.
Flavor: pear-flavored sno-cone syrup with a splash of passion fruit, or something.
Notes: whoa. Look at those chunks of pulp and those black seeds. We're voyaging beyond the known limits of the soft-drink map here. While not technically a soda, we couldn't pass up something with such a cool name. And its mild, fruity flavor really wasn't bad - just, again, so sweet that typing this makes my teeth hurt.
Would we drink it again?: a couple of us say we would. But nobody managed to finish their small glass of the stuff. Talk is cheap.

2010-03-10 15.07.22

Materva
Country of Origin: originally Cuba; now bottled in Miami with yerba mate imported from South America.
Color: brown like Guinness, complete with a nice frothy head.
Texture: slightly thicker and heavier than the soda I'm used to.
Flavor: complex, suggesting mostly tea, but with notes of cream soda, Red Bull, bubblegum, apple Jolly Ranchers, and generic grape soda.
Notes: served hot, the tea-like yerba mate is even more ubiquitous in Argentina and Uruguay than coffee is in the United States. People of all ages drink it every day, including kids. Yerba mate's stress- relieving, energy-enhancing qualities were just the thing we needed to survive the punishing abuse of tasting all these sodas. Thank you, Materva!
Would we drink it again?: yes, the next time we can't make up our minds between iced tea and Coke.

2010-03-10 15.12.04

Foco Pennywort Drink
Country of Origin: Thailand
Color: swamp sludge.
Texture: suspiciously thick.
Flavor: "earthy" would be a nice way to put it, with notes of potatoes, grass clippings, and jalapeño Doritos.
Notes: this is what you order at the Thai restaurant when you want to show all your friends what an intrepid bad-ass you are. "What, you've never had pennywort juice? It's all I drink now."
Would we drink it again?: we wouldn't drink it with YOUR tongue.

2010-03-10 15.08.03

DG Kola Champagne
Country of Origin: Jamaica.
Color: bright gold.
Texture: standard for soda.
Flavor: started off nice, bubblegummy and creamy in the champagne-soda style. Then a weird chemical quality kicked in, like antifreeze, or like Inca Kola cut with swimming-pool water. The MC Skat Kat-looking character printed on the label seems blurry, but maybe that's just the fumes getting to us.
Notes: maybe we just got a bad batch. But just to be safe, use in a well-ventilated area.
Would we drink it again?: no, but we might use it to clean our bathroom tile.

2010-03-10 15.05.46

Colombiana
Country of Origin: Colombia.
Color: blood orange.
Texture: crisp, light, and very carbonated.
Flavor: predominantly orange, but with the bubblegum/cream aspect common to all champagne sodas. Mericfully, it's much less sweet than the other examples we tasted.
Notes: looks like not everybody in South America has the sweet tooth of a 3-year-old.
Would we drink it again?: happily. The consensus second-favorite of the bunch.

2010-03-10 15.06.43

Vimto
Country of Origin: Great Britain
Color: a deep, beet-juice-like maroon.
Texture: syrupy, low on bubbles.
Flavor: Diet Black Cherry Shasta gone flat.
Notes: their palates deformed by generations of flavorless sausages, the British choke down this cloying blackcurrant-flavored bilge by the tankerload. It's one more reason to thank Paul Revere. According to Wikipedia, Vimto is "the beverage of choice during Ramadan", the time when Muslims are supposed to deny themselves the pleasures of the earthly world. Good choice.
Would we drink it again?: not if King George himself marched his redcoats into our kitchen. Drink good soda or die!

2010-03-10 15.06.53

Foco Soursop Juice
Country of Origin: Thailand.
Color: pale pear.
Texture: watery and chunky.
Flavor: OH GOD THE SMELL! Sewage, overripe fruit, Vienna Sausages, and floral notes collide in a nuclear assault on your olfactory system. Hold your nose and you might manage to choke down a surprisingly tolerable sip, but then the aftertaste hits and it's over.
Notes: splash some on like cologne and you'll never have to share an elevator.
Would we drink it again?: we won't even smell it again.

2010-03-10 15.08.30

Ting
Country of Origin: Jamaica
Color: pale, opaque yellow.
Texture: fizzy to near Alka-Seltzer levels.
Flavor: tart, crisp grapefruit with a certain Froot Loops quality.
Notes: the ringer in the bunch. We knew we could count on the mighty Ting, and we knew its hyperactive bubbles would cleanse our palate after this ordeal.
Would we drink it again?: anytime. The clear favorite of our panel. This Usain Bolt of soft drinks left the others eating dust (literally, in the case of the Pennywort Juice Drink).

By now, a faint nausea had set in. We decided to cultivate it. Inspired by the "Suicide", the time-honored practice of combining all of the sodas at one fountain into one drink, we whipped up the most noxiously suicidal cocktail our collective mind could devise...

2010-03-10 15.38.52

Hmmm.... needs more bubblegum, wouldn't you say? Our amateur mixologists would.

2010-03-10 15.39.41

Gentlemen, a toast to our phony-baloney jobs!

2010-03-10 15.41.07

Down the hatch it goes. And, we hope, stays.

2010-03-10 15.41.21

Ugh. I've never had a soda hangover before, much less a multicultural soda hangover. Can we take the rest of the day off?

2010-03-10 15.43.44

After the stomach pains passed, we were able to digest the lessons we'd learned on this gut-wrenching journey around the world's soda fountain. Don't drink anything that both (a) comes in a can and (b) has crap floating around in it. If you're drinking foreign soda, brace yourself for intense sweetness that makes Mountain Dew look like Irish stout. And finally, while I failed to find a soda that could replace my usual tipple, this adventure was intriguing enough that I'm looking forward to further exploration. Hip me to your favorite exotic sodas below.

cnorborg


quality posts: 0 Private Messages cnorborg

Easy one, stick to the America's and go with Guarana, my favorite being Guarana Antartica. It's the most popular soft-drink in Brazil and with reason, it rocks!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guaran%C3%A1_Antarctica

Made from the guarana plant which has two or more times the caffeine of coffee beans, plus some other stimulants. Supposedly it doesn't have the same side effects of caffeine.

Its among the worlds top 20 soft-drinks, but its only widely available in South America. There are different types of this beverage available there, but Antarctica is the best IMHO!!

McGurk


quality posts: 5 Private Messages McGurk

Sweet! More mix options for my "cheapest bottle on the bottom shelf" gin. Now I'm ready for a woot-off!!!

maitesama


quality posts: 0 Private Messages maitesama

Remembers a Materva commercial in Spanish that said: Don't drink and drive, if you drink, drink Materva !
And I remember drinking Inca cola as a kid, man what a sugar rush.
You guys forgot Jupiña and Ironbeer.

Jason Toon


quality posts: 19 Private Messages Jason Toon
maitesama wrote:Remembers a Materva commercial in Spanish that said: Don't drink and drive, if you drink, drink Materva !
And I remember drinking Inca cola as a kid, man what a sugar rush.
You guys forgot Jupiña and Ironbeer.



Ironbeer (which I like) is definitely on the schedule for the sequel. Hadn't heard of Jupiña - I'll see if I can find it. Thanks!

novastarj


quality posts: 30 Private Messages novastarj

You're right that Ting is awesome.

sgoman5674


quality posts: 41 Private Messages sgoman5674

The best cherry soda on the planet is "Dr Brown's Black Cherry"

Also another interesting soda br Dr. Brown is their Cel-Ray soda. It actually tastes like celery.

maitesama


quality posts: 0 Private Messages maitesama
Jason Toon wrote:Ironbeer (which I like) is definitely on the schedule for the sequel. Hadn't heard of Jupiña - I'll see if I can find it. Thanks!



Oh and you might want to add in some Malta.
I prefer Hatuey(More Malt flavor) or Polar(is sweeter) myself.

gilamonster


quality posts: 0 Private Messages gilamonster
cnorborg wrote:Easy one, stick to the America's and go with Guarana, my favorite being Guarana Antartica. It's the most popular soft-drink in Brazil and with reason, it rocks!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guaran%C3%A1_Antarctica

Made from the guarana plant which has two or more times the caffeine of coffee beans, plus some other stimulants. Supposedly it doesn't have the same side effects of caffeine.

Its among the worlds top 20 soft-drinks, but its only widely available in South America. There are different types of this beverage available there, but Antarctica is the best IMHO!!



I know it! Easily the world's best soda, Guarana should definitely be on the list...and yes, Antartica is the best brand.
Ooo...try it frozen, like slushy!

kchoschton


quality posts: 17 Private Messages kchoschton

Not exactly exotic, but I LOVE Jarritos Fresa Mexican strawberry soda made with cane sugar.

editorkid


quality posts: 92 Private Messages editorkid

I make most of my own soda, but the two commercial variants I still drink are:

this awesome ginger beer (ixnay on the ietday) and when I'm overseas Fanta Indien. Grenadine soda, purty much.

(As for the homemade stuff, grab a carbonator and some bottles of these syrups.)


ericreller


quality posts: 0 Private Messages ericreller

IRN-BRU!

http://www.irn-bru.co.uk/

DemonMF777


quality posts: 3 Private Messages DemonMF777
maitesama wrote:Remembers a Materva commercial in Spanish that said: Don't drink and drive, if you drink, drink Materva !
And I remember drinking Inca cola as a kid, man what a sugar rush.
You guys forgot Jupiña and Ironbeer.



I came here to mention Jupiña, but it looks like Maitesama beat me to the punch. I guess this stuff doesn't seem so strange to me... I live in S. FL

spurglerocklefink


quality posts: 0 Private Messages spurglerocklefink

Go get yourself some Irn Bru http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irn-Bru

World's greatest hangover cure and responsible for some of the funniest advertising campaigns ever.

eurekaiv


quality posts: 0 Private Messages eurekaiv
kchoschton wrote:Not exactly exotic, but I LOVE Jarritos Fresa Mexican strawberry soda made with cane sugar.



Jarritos Tamarindo is my favorite soda on earth.



Outside of that I love root beer of all sorts and Bana-Nina which literally tastes like the liquid version of a banana Runt.

fjordless


quality posts: 1 Private Messages fjordless

A vital rating category was omitted: Which alcohol would you mix with each?

apoor


quality posts: 2 Private Messages apoor
editorkid wrote:this awesome ginger beer



+1 for ginger beer. My favorite is Stewarts which can be hard to find, and has more bite than some people like. Others prefer the milder Barret's, which is the "official" ginger beer from Bermuda.

BTW -- there's no alcohol in ginger beer, which is why dark rum was invented. And ginger beer is not just ginger ale with more ginger; it's cayenne pepper that gives it the kick.

mndvs737


quality posts: 4 Private Messages mndvs737

If you're ever at one of the "World of Coke" locations (I know of Atlanta and Club Coll at EPCOT), they have a tasting section where you can try Coca-Cola products from around the world. Some that I remember:
Lemon Fanta (Israel) - lemon is right -- pucker up, kids!
Beverly (Italy) - a bitter aperitif - best foisted upon unsuspecting family members - "Here - this is really good!" (snicker snicker)
Inca was there as well -- w00t!

erangel


quality posts: 0 Private Messages erangel
fjordless wrote:A vital rating category was omitted: Which alcohol would you mix with each?



In Colombia, Colombiana is commonly mixed with beer and it's called Refajo.

shortymcsmalls


quality posts: 4 Private Messages shortymcsmalls

Well, I've always loved the European Lemon Fanta.
And by always I mean since I tried it like 3 years ago. Obliterating all other concepts and ideas in my head of what soda SHOULD be.


Also, Piña Buena is a favorite of my moms. Yes technically it's from Puerto Rico, which is technically not outside the US, but still.

pgelliott


quality posts: 1 Private Messages pgelliott

Had a Fanta Floral at World of Coke in Atlanta years ago. Not too sweet. Not something i would buy again. Had Fanta Melon in Japan and loved it.

davideras


quality posts: 0 Private Messages davideras

Try some Kofola!!! Straight out of communist Czechoslovakia!

rustiangel


quality posts: 1 Private Messages rustiangel

The coca cola museum in Atlanta has a collection of products from all around the world, free to sample all you want. Also the original cocacola you taste there, is the freshest & most delicious anywhere to be found.

dfitler


quality posts: 0 Private Messages dfitler

Gotta agree with the first guy on the list: Antartica Guarana (pronounced Gua-da-na, making sure your lightly roll your tongue on the second sylable. The American commercials for energy drinks containing this stuff butcher the name calling it ... um... well guarana... Hmmmm - er... pronouncing it like it's spelled, which is no fun at all).

Anyway, it's the equivalent of Coca-cola in Brazil in terms of popularity and is actually fairly available here in the US at global-type food markets and Brazilian restaurants. Smooth, comfortably sweet, kind of like a mixture of cream soda and ginger-ale... and a nice alert buzz without the atrial fibrillation of caffiene!

dfitler

mpasquale


quality posts: 1 Private Messages mpasquale

For a good English soda, you should try Fentimans Dandelion & Burdock:
http://www.drinkfentimans.com

I couldn't get enough of it while in England this summer... and it's starting to be relatively available state-side these days.

editorkid


quality posts: 92 Private Messages editorkid
mpasquale wrote:For a good English soda, you should try Fentimans Dandelion & Burdock:
http://www.drinkfentimans.com

I couldn't get enough of it while in England this summer... and it's starting to be relatively available state-side these days.


Chicagoans can get Fentimans sodas at Pastoral (NE Loop and Lakeview) and, I believe, at Fox & Obel (Streeterview). Haven't tried it myself.

yogeshdengle


quality posts: 1 Private Messages yogeshdengle

I miss Thums Up, a brand owned by Coke in India.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thums_Up
This is a definitely better taste than coke or Pepsi plus teh cane sugar helps!!

And the mango drink Maaza
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maaza

captainmicahp


quality posts: 0 Private Messages captainmicahp

The most delicious and sweet soda on earth is Fanta Shokata. It is available in a variety of Southern European Countries and formerly in Israel.

It is supposed to taste like elder flowers and lemon. I don't know if it really tastes like elder flowers because I have never had them, but the soda is amazing.

marajad3


quality posts: 3 Private Messages marajad3

Ramune is a Japanese soda it comes in a variety of flavors but I prefer the regular. It's really fun to open, you pop a marble out of a seal.

As for ginger beer I came across some in Wisconsin called buttermilk fried chicken and Bull. It really opened my sinuses.

Shinespark


quality posts: 32 Private Messages Shinespark

Orangina isn't exactly the most exotic of drinks, but it has a rather unusual flavor and makes pretty good cocktails.

7NationArmy


quality posts: 0 Private Messages 7NationArmy

Just so you don't think that all sodas from Asia are terrible (most are, though), you should try something called Apple Sidra from Taiwan. I honestly think they originally wanted to call it "Apple Cider", sort of like how Donkey Kong was really suppose to be "Monkey Kong", but decided to mix English (apple) and Spanish (sidra = cider). Anyway, it's good stuff, sort of like a sweeter Martinelli's sparkling cider, with a drier mouth-feel and a little less carbonated.

However, if you want to be a little more adventurous with some Far East delectables I'd go for the Hawthorn Drink (in a huge red can, can't miss it on the shelf of an Asian store) or Grass Jelly Drink - earthy tones, but in a really good way. You can always go for the Japanese Ramune, but that's for light weights; unless, you're gonna make a Ramune Mojito which is just plain tasty.

spidergirl42


quality posts: 1 Private Messages spidergirl42

My favorite actually isn't a soda at all, and I'm not sure if it's Korean or Japanese, but it's delicious!

It's basically green grape juice with whole grapes in the can. I think it's made by a couple brands, but the only name I could find is Haitai Bonbon. Here's a picture:

It's far more delicious than American grape juice though, I think since it's a little sweeter and has a thinner, more watery texture.

YES!

HardwareJEJ


quality posts: 1 Private Messages HardwareJEJ

It's not exotic, but it is somewhat rare, being a Detroit drink.

Try Vernors Ginger Ale. Much stronger and darker than "dry" ginger ale. It's the original golden ginger ale, and one of the only ones to survive prohibition. (noone wanted to mix a golden ginger ale, but "dry" ginger ale mixes with alcohol nicely.)

It's owned now by Dr.Pepper and company.

Started by a pharmacist in Detroit after the civil war.

James

http://www.drpeppersnapplegroup.com/brands/vernors/

craigthom


quality posts: 63 Private Messages craigthom

I can here to recommend the world sampling room at the World of Coca-Cola, but I see I have been beaten to the punch.

For ginger ale I'm a huge fan of Blenheim's. It used to come in short brown bottles, but it was purchased by the South of the Border people and now comes in tall clear ones.

It's still a ferocious ginger ale. They make a "mild" version, but why bother?

jbreedlove


quality posts: 4 Private Messages jbreedlove

For another foray into crappy English sodas, you should try Idris Fiery Ginger Beer. I had to buy it because it said "Try me if you dare!". Nothing like a soda that tries to shame you into drinking it (incidentally, I suggest you try this marketing slogan on a particularly bad product - Buy me if you dare!). I got through a few sips and then had to throw the rest out.

todaresq


quality posts: 75 Private Messages todaresq
jbreedlove wrote:For another foray into crappy English sodas, you should try Idris Fiery Ginger Beer. I had to buy it because it said "Try me if you dare!". Nothing like a soda that tries to shame you into drinking it (incidentally, I suggest you try this marketing slogan on a particularly bad product - Buy me if you dare!). I got through a few sips and then had to throw the rest out.



I like this soda... not too spicy. I buy it at Wegmans... they used to have their own Hot Ginger Ale.

Some of my other faves...

Vernor's: Ginger ale with a twist of caramel



Orbitz: Many flavors... preceded the current bubble tea trend.



My fave soda of all time is for some reason not on the net... no pics or anything. Just a message board on Arizonas site. I have an empty bottle sitting in front of me though. May have to get it up online though...

It is Arizona Chocolate Covered Cherry Cola... a part of their Soda Shop series of drinks. It was cherry cola with chocolate shavings. Was amazing!!!

Albright


quality posts: 1 Private Messages Albright

Those who don't like sweet drinks won't like Ramune - it's basically carbonated corn syrup. The marble-sealed bottle is a neat gimmick, though.

My favorite Japanese sodas were the lemon-flavored ones. The one in particular I liked the most, I can't remember the name… I think it was a katakana transliteration of something like "Lemon Squash." Came in a black can, and wasn't too sweet, but could be hard to find in stores and vending machines - I found myself remembering the positions of vending machines that carried it so that I could come back to them later, which is not something one typically has to do in Japan where you can't walk across a room without tripping over one vending machine, crashing into another, and falling over on to a third. "C. C. Lemon" (in romaji) was sweeter, but a lot easier to find.

The Italian blood orange sodas can be pretty good too.

saundrico


quality posts: 0 Private Messages saundrico

Having just moved to Switzerland. I am trying a few new sodas in the Swiss/European market. So far the best is Rivella Red. It is a Swiss cola made with milk whey. Sound disgusting but isn't that bad. There are other flavors:

Blue - light version of red
Green - made with green tea
Yellow - made with soya (horrible)

However, after trying a few of the sodas here my wife and always run back to good old American Dr. Pepper. We have found a few stores that sell it here.


joewxboy


quality posts: 0 Private Messages joewxboy

I second the call for Apple Sidra. It's light and crisp, but incredibly addicting. It's one of the few sodas that leave you craving more when you finish a can. It tastes better chilled.

One other soda to consider is Brahma Guarana. All the energy you get from a Coke without any of the caffeine.

llmock


quality posts: 0 Private Messages llmock

Jupiña is a sweet pineapple variant, and they also made a Coconut soda called Coco Rico. Cawy was/is a Cuban Lemon-Lime soda, it's harder to find.

Ironbeer is pronounced E-run-bear


Malta is sweet, malted drink that is classified as a soda, think Sweet Guinness.