Beverages in the UK: To Drink or Not To Drink

The first “new to me” drink experience in the UK was in a little café in Darlington town center. The name perplexed and intrigued – Dandelion & Burdock. I googled it (what would we do without google??) and then asked the waitress to describe it for me. She struggled. It was funny to listen to her try, though. I thanked her for the attempt and asked her if I could try it. She said one of my most favorite phrases here, “Of course you can.”

We’ve discovered many new drinks while living in the UK, some alcoholic and some not, some healthy and some not. I remember when we moved to Asia I was astounded at how many types of rice I never knew existed. I feel that way here in the UK about drinks. Maybe you’re not from around here and you googled to figure out what Dandelion & Burdock is – and you landed here. Welcome!

Many of the drinks I’m listing are very much in the category of “like ’em or leave ’em”. But they’re all worth trying at least once. For your reading and possibly drinking pleasure, here are a few drinks we’ve discovered while living in the UK. To drink or not to drink, that is the question…

To drink or not to drink, that is the question…

Fentiman’s Dandelion & Burdock
This drink is rather interesting. Its unique sweet carbonated root beer(ish) flavor is made with fermented dandelions and burdock root. It’s believed to be beneficial for healthy liver function. It’s not a favorite of mine but it is interesting enough to captivate my taste buds.

Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola
“Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice ~Lewis Carroll

The name describes this drink perfectly. It is a sweet fermented carbonated cola that actually has a .5% alcohol content (low enough to be legal to sell to minors). It is brewed with fermented ginger root extract and other botanicals. If you’re curious, you should give it a go.

Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade
Another of Fentiman’s creations, this beverage has become a favorite for our daughter. It is a surprisingly good and refreshing blend of flavors. You might not imagine it would be but it is.

Made with pure Rose oil from the world-famous Rose Valley in Kazanlak, Bulgaria and the juice of real lemons. Delivers a beautifully refreshing drink with a unique aroma.

You’ll want to try this one for sure! Grab a bottle or two for an outdoor picnic or have it on hand for your kiddos for an after-school pick-me-up.

Aperol Spritz
We were in Switzerland when I noticed a group of friends sitting at a nearby table drinking these bright orange drinks. They ordered a second round so they must have been good. I asked the waitress what it was and didn’t understand her accent. She brought me a menu and showed it to me. I didn’t try it then because I was sipping on a wonderful mulled wine or glühwein as they call it. We went to another restaurant later that week and I noticed they had it on their menu. I went for it and I was so glad I did. It is an aperitif that is quite refreshing. Not too sweet and has a bit of a grapefruity type flavor.

Tonic Water
Fever-Tree seems to be the most popular to go along with a gin and tonic. Flavored tonic waters are becoming popular now too. “Our” pub owner, however, has mentioned that he is not a fan of the flavored ones. A straight up gin and tonic seems to be the best way to go about it. But if you’d like to try flavored, Bottle Green has an elderflower tonic and a pomegranate/elderflower flavor that are actually quite nice. If you read up on tonic waters, they contain a small amount of quinine. This was originally used as a prophylactic for malaria. It is now preferred simply for its bitter flavor. Make sure you are okay with having this ingredient before drinking it. The gin masked the bitterness of the quinine and made it easier to drink. Well, of course it did! I wonder if the quinine helped or if it was the gin. #cheeky

Elderflower Presse’
I happen to love this drink. Elderflower is a very unique flavor and one that is easy on the taste buds or turns up the nose. So far, I’m the only one in my family who likes it. If you enjoy the flavor, it is a very refreshing drink. It’s made from elderberry syrup mixed with carbonated water and sugar. I had never seen this drink in the US

Tea Pigs
These teas are amazing! The choices are plentiful and the flavors are sheer perfection. I haven’t tried them all yet but it is my goal. Currently, my favorites are the Earl Grey Strong and the Apple Cinnamon but I also love the Super Fruit and the Lemongrass and Sweet Ginger. There’s really a flavor for every mood. Inside the box, you will find attractive, biodegradable, mesh tea “temples” which contain high quality, loose leaf teas, not the crushed and pummeled teas that you might be accustomed to. These are the teas you’ll want for your afternoon cuppa but especially to serve to your guests. I think it’s only a matter of time before they will have the Queen’s royal seal of approval.

Luscombe Bottled Drinks
These beverages were a delightful and delicious discovery. I’ve tried all of the flavors so far and the berry ones are my favorite. The Lime Crush particularly pleases this Texan pond hopper as it makes a really good base for a quick margarita (add in a little Grand Marnier and Patron Tequila). Luscombe bottled drinks are made from organic fruits and natural products. This is a UK beverage that everyone can enjoy.

There are a host of other drinks I haven’t included. Cask ales, an unending variety of ciders and beers, single malt scotch (if you like whiskey (or whisky), be sure to visit the Whisky Experience in Edinburgh), and Prosecco to name a few. These aren’t unusual drinks but some of them are new to us. Since living here, we’ve learned what aperitifs and digestives are and have benefited from this bit of tasty wisdom.

It seems that, as with almost everything here in the UK, most beverages come with a story. Their history makes them meaningful and their flavors make them enjoyable.

Drink up! (and enjoy responsibly)

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