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Feb 26, 2003 02:58 AM

best soft drink ever

  • m

Inspired by the post on worst soft drink ever. Here comes mine for the best ones.
When growing about near Boston 35 years ago some local company made Birch Beer. I was a clear drink that was in the same vein as root bear but lighter and more refreshing. Since I have not seen it for over 25 years it gets my gold medel. Silver goes to Moxie and bronse to a soft drink I recently found from Malta that reminded me of Moxie a bit (ie very bitter, almost like an aperative). It is called Kinnie and based on oranges. Any one with tastes similar to mine (I realize that Moxie is NOT everyone's cup of tea!) would be well adviced to see if Kinnie is imported to the US (it started coming to Sweden about 2 years ago). Anyone who could find the birch beer of my youth would be my friend for life.

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  1. s
    Stanley Stephan

    The white birch beer is common in Connecticut. I had some when I went home a few months ago at Nardelli's in Waterbury and Turk's in West Haven. You could probably get it at Jimmies in West Haven as well in the old Savin Rock Area.

    On the other hand, New Jersey birch beer is dark and reddish.

    I miss the white birch beer. I want some now. Great for cutting the grease of a hot dog or fried clams.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Stanley Stephan

      Thanks Stanley, I now know I have to make a trip to Connecticut next time I am in Boston to visit relatives. Maybe drinking this elixir from my youth would help my hair grow back!

      1. re: mdibiaso

        It's not esoteric or European or hip and cool but give me a cold Orange Crush anytime (especially summertime).

        1. re: micki

          Who but me remembers when Orange Crush came in a brown glass bottle and was a clear soda? I don't think this is a figment of my imagination...

          1. re: Cristina

            Orange Crush is my all-time fave, but I remember it in a clear bottle and it had almost a greenish-orange tinge to it.

            1. re: Cristina

              I remember Orange Crush in the brown glass bottle. Don't remember it being clear; don't think I ever specifically noticed the color. I had assumed it was orange.

              1. re: Cristina

                I remember those bottles. Used to buy 'Orange Crush' for seven cents a bottle also Seven Up.

        2. I also grew up in the Boston area. I think the birch beer you are thinking of is by Polar, from Worcester. It is still bottled, and I seem to recall seeing it at Market Basket. I think Cott's used to make one also.
          My all time favorite is Ginger Beer. Ther are many varieties, some better than others. Schweppes used to make a decent one. I'm not crazy aboout the one at Trader Joe's or Goya. Old Tyme is OK. The stuff I had in Jamaica was awesome.
          Moxie, yuck. I was going to put that on my worst ever list, but to each his own.


          13 Replies
          1. re: AlanH

            Again, really happy to see it is still around. Not sure the one I had as a kid was Polar. My parents use to buy it in 24 count mixed cases (you go and choose from dozens of flavors and make your own case) of 33 oz glass bottles at a liquor store in the Everett/Malden area (just north of Boston). I thought is was a more local company that had gone belly up years ago. Does this sound like the way Polar marketed their stuff back in the 60's. Maybe it is the same birch beer a drank as kid? That would mean I do not have to go to Connecticut when I return and hopefully, if they have not changed the recipe, I can get the exact same drink. Thanks for you help Alan.

            1. re: mdibiaso

              Hmm, can't remember that far back, but it is possible. There certainly were many more regional brands back then too.
              The link below might help.


              1. re: AlanH

                When I was a kid, nothing beat Nehi Orange or Grape soda in the icy cold bottles. Also there was a drive-in in K.C. called Mugs Up - best root beer ever in frosted mugs.

                Now I drink 7up and actually I think Sierra Mist is pretty good. D.

                1. re: Donna - MI

                  I thought Grapette was a better flavor than the Nehi Grape, though the Nehi Orange was the favorite "big orange" of kiddom - I think it was 12 or 16 ounces and once sold for a nickle.

              2. re: mdibiaso

                Polar still makes it, and it is still marketed here. I didn't realize it was a rare thing, since I love it!

                1. re: mdibiaso

                  Twin Lights in Rockport, MA used to make soft drinks in 6 or 8 oz. glass bottles. Birch Beer was one, clear and in clear glass. They also had ginger ale( green bottle), lemon lime, cola, root beer, orange and sold it by a wooden case. All bottles had to be returned and refilled. A different time, ahh.

                2. re: AlanH

                  Mmmm! I LOVE Schweppes' Ginger Beer - but I don't see them in the US anymore, only in Asia. I used to order ginger beer, ginger ale and I think this sort of liquer at a restaurant a lot. Forget the name. Kind of like the boy version of a Shirley Temple.

                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                        Yeah it is called roy rogers!

                        Weird - I just googled it and some call for cherry and coke and some call for ginger ale...

                      2. re: relativeways1

                        in south carolina: vernor's ginger ale...super gingery, be careful that it doesn't go up your nose....good stuff!

                        1. re: betsydiver

                          Good stuff indeed...but not as god as it used to be since they changed the formula some years ago. It's a little too sweet these days....

                          1. re: The Professor

                            South Carolina? Blenheim's Extra-Hot Ginger Ale, possibly the finest soft drink ever produced. Made right there in Blenheim, SC. Sounds weird, but half and half Richard's Triple Peach Wine and Blenheim's over ice is a great summertime drink.

                    1. Orangina, back before Pepsi got hold of it and ruined it. The good stuff is still available in Europe. San Pellegrino makes an orange soda that's good, too.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: GG Mora

                        Yum. I'm in Italy right now, and I'm a big fan of both orangina (remember when it was called "Orelia"?) and aranciata -- that slightly bitter orange soda. For some reason, Fanta orange soda is HUGE here--I remember it as being kind of a niche/not-very-popular brand back in the US, but they have giant market penetration here. I'm not really a soda person, but my BF just discovered a type of soda called "Gassosa" which is a light lemon-lime soda, not as sweet as Sprite or 7Up. I bought it by mistake, thinking it was just sparkling (gassosa) mineral water. He loves it! And it's really cheap.

                        1. re: GG Mora

                          ditto on the Orangina. i also really dug the ginger beer and champagne cola from jamaica as well. there's also something about drinking soft drinks out of a cold dusty glass bottle in the blazing heat (usually in another country) that makes soft drinks taste so good !

                          1. re: GG Mora

                            Not exactly the same, but if you like Orangina you'd probably also like Polar Orange Dry. It's great stuff.

                            1. re: Guy

                              Yes, you took the words right out of my mouth; it's the only one I drink....Even the diet is good...Is it only a New England thing, tho?

                            2. re: GG Mora

                              San Pellegrino's lemon is terrific, not too sweet.

                              1. re: aromatherapy

                                San Pellegrino Limonata is my favorite. Especially good with Maker's Mark bourbon, an unbeatable combination. My other favorites are:

                                Blenheim's Extra-Hot Ginger Ale
                                Nehi Peach
                                Welch's Grape
                                SPA Lemon
                                Ting Grapefruit
                                Ting Passionfruit
                                Jarritos Tamarindo

                                1. re: flavrmeistr

                                  mmm San Pellegrino Limonata - perfect for a summer day on the deck, by the pool, on the beach...just outside!

                                2. re: aromatherapy

                                  LOVE Limonata (Lemon), Aranciata (tastes like freshly squeezed & carbonated mandarin juice) & Chinotto (Bitter citrus & herbs similar but not really like cola or root beer. Very hard to describe). They are all made with real cane sugar & fruit juices. Nicely balanced, not toosweet not too sour.

                                3. re: GG Mora

                                  By the way, Pepsi doesn't own Orangina. It's Cadbury Schweppes.

                                  1. re: GG Mora

                                    I love Orangina. In Europe you can get a diet version of it which I drank all the time.

                                  2. Dr. Pepper! i believe it is the only major soft drink that still uses sugar.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: John Scar

                                      I believe only one bottler in Texas still uses sugar in Dr. Pepper, the other plants use corn syrup.

                                      1. re: AlanH

                                        I agree. I love Dr. Pepper. Now that I'm getting old and fat, Diet Dr. Pepper is my drink of choice when it comes to soda. It's the only diet soda that doesn't taste diety and does taste exactly like the original.

                                        1. re: JBG

                                          Diet DP is by far the best diet soda I have ever had. In fact I just had one.

                                        2. re: AlanH

                                          I think that is correct. Around here in Central TX you see Dublin Dr Pepper being touted as having real sugar.

                                          1. re: pickychicky1979

                                            They also make a canned pure cane not Dublin version that i have found at a store called Brookshire's when i go visit my MIL in east Texas. We make a special trip to get it, and it isn't as expensive as Dublin bottles.

                                        3. re: John Scar

                                          You can get Coke bottled in Mexico that still has sugar instead of HFCS. They sell it in the little groceries in the Mexican neighborhood in Chicago. I bet other ethnic neighborhoods would have similar products.

                                        4. I second the posting about Euro-Fanta: I drank it all the time while living in BRD.

                                          But I gotta give props to my peeps back at Vernors outta Michigan -- the best damn ginger ale on the planet. Extremely dry and crisp. The diet is even zippier, and I never drink diet sodas from other companies.

                                          15 Replies
                                          1. re: cinghiale

                                            I'll second that. Vernors is one of those nostalgic treats for me, sadly the distributor here abouts doesn't carry it.

                                            1. re: chilihead

                                              Vernor's IS good. In AZ, we see it on occasions, and always in a can. The older bottles "seemed" to be fuller, with a richer taste - or maybe that is just the way I wish to remember them...


                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                I strongly believe that all sodas tasted better from the glass bottles. Cans and plastic just don't hold the flavor. Remember drinking a tall glass bottle of Coke or Pepsi on the beach in summertime? They were truly refreshing and gave such a nice rush! I know it's partly the HFCS, but those bottles....

                                                And to keep this OT, my favorite flavor from years ago is called Squirt. Used to be very big in western NY. I haven't seen it in years. It's flavored with grapefruit and is very zesty. It used to be popular in taverns mixed with sloe gin.

                                                1. re: Catskillgirl

                                                  Squirt is readily available, at least here in Las Vegas. I have to admit, I tend to reach more for it during the summertime, as it's so refreshing, and NOT a heavy cola. Mix with gin, you say? This I gotta try, sounds addictive!

                                                  1. re: Honeychan

                                                    Squirt with gin is excellent -- Dad's go to drink in Mexico when on the road (but not while driving of course: wonder whatever happened to that portable bar?).

                                                    1. re: grayelf

                                                      I miss Ruby Red Squirt. Sooooo good with gin.

                                                    2. re: Honeychan

                                                      I believe catskillgirl mentioned it with sloe gin which is definitely not the same thing as gin. Sloe gin is red and i think is some derivitive of a fruit, although i'm not sure. i had several unfortunate experiences with it during high school and college (I guess this was part of my education!)

                                                      1. re: betsydiver

                                                        Sloe gin is colored and flavored with sloe berries and was a feature of "ladies'" (and the underaged's) drinks in the 60's and 70's. Once (over)consumed, never forgotten.

                                                      1. re: Catskillgirl

                                                        I do agree, with one possible exception - fountain. For me, cans and plastic just do not do it. It might go beyond the taste and to the tactile feelings, or maybe it is the taste.



                                                  2. re: cinghiale

                                                    I used to love Vernors, but the use of HFCS has killed the taste. I will still drink it a few times a year but I'm looking for a ginger ale that doesn't have that vile form of sugar. I also love Blenheim's ginger ale, but, I am unsure if that also contains HFCS.

                                                    I like Hires root beer in the summer, but only in a soft serve float.

                                                    1. re: Kelli2006

                                                      GUS extra dry Ginger ale uses cane sugar and real ginger extract:


                                                      1. re: Sean

                                                        GUS (Grown Up Soda) in Meyer Lemon and Cranberry Lime are mighty fine. Another great line is Vignette. They make non alcoholic sodas from wine grapes. I have a Pinot Noir in m fridge right now, this summer we'll be carrying their rose and chardonnay sodas. Both brands are not too sweet and all natural and delicious.

                                                        1. re: Candy

                                                          Yah, I love their Meyer Lemon and Ginger Ale!