For different reasons I have had an interest for cola drinks which try to offer more than what the common brands sell. The commercially successful recipes remind little of the botanical origins cola has and focus mostly on profiles based on sugar and lemonade. Cola drinks differ mostly in their sugar content, herbs and artificial additives. I have now found a wonderful cola – the Curiosity Cola from Fentiman. Its taste profile is in command by fine herbs and ginger, without losing its cola profile.
During the first 25 years of my life I did not drink a single drop of cola. This is one of the advantages of spending a childhood and youth within the believe of the Seventh-Day Adventists. For the second half of my life I have had about three liters of cola. To these I could now add at least 2 or 3 more which I have enjoyed in the last months. That is what happens when one discovers a cola which offers much more and better than other colas on the market. Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola is something between a refreshment and a pleasure drink, it is considered the number one cola in the USA and is brewed botanically with ginger and herbs in England. Because it is a brewing process there are minimal alcohol rests, which do not exceed 0,5%.
As I had the very first millilitres in my mouth a few months back, I knew immediately, this is a fine combination of herbs and well tuned brewing composition.
In 1905, around the same time in which Desiderio Pavoni was developing the first Italian espresso machine, Thomas Fentiman received a botanically brewed recipe for ginger beer that was to serve as collateral for a loan. This debt was never paid back and he kept the recipe, with which and the logo representing his german shepherd ‘Fearless’, he started Fentiman’s. The recipe was the base for several drinks, among others the Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola.
Perhaps it is time we start treating cola drinks on a different level. Wine and Whiskey are pleasure drinks. Beer is used by many as a quick thirst quenching drink, while others already know to appreciate it as a special and rich brew for pleasure with , slowly and awake. Coffee has achieved a pleasure status (again) in the last couple of decades where we focus on less quantity and more quality. I could well imagine that the better barkeepers must soon reach the point, where a cocktail recipe allows solely high-quality colas, be it Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola, Fritz Kola or Afri-Cola. Even the Epicurean at home could keep a good assortment on colas, just like different moods and situations call for different types of wine.
My overwhelming impression with Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola ought to be obvious. I find this drink certainly belongs in a league quite different to most colas and soft drinks, but I needed to make a test, and so I did. It is expressed in only few words.
- Just looking at the colour hints a difference in intensity of the various recipes and brands. Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola is a deeper brown.
- Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola give no aroma. The nose gets no information about what is about to be tasted. Curiosity Cola has a strong and full aroma – mostly cola, herbs and caramel.
- Pepsi-Cola has a sweeter taste than Coca-Cola, but both are sweeter than Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola. The curiosity cola is complex in its taste, reminding of its botanical origins, yet maintaining the usual pleasure character expected from soft drinks. Much pleasure while refreshing.
Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola Ingredients: fermented ginger root extract, carbonated water, sugar, catuaba extract, guarana extract, caffeine.
Some notes from Fentiman’s:
To unlock the fulfilling, refreshing taste of a Fentimans Botanically Brewed Beverage, simply hold the bottle in your hand and with one good turn of the wrist invigorate the ingredients that lie dormant at the bottom of the bottle.
The Botanical Brewing is a simple process involving herbs and plant roots.
The original recipe saw them take ginger roots, mill them before tumbling them into copper steam jacketed pans and leaving to bubble and simmer, releasing all their flavour. Adding finest herbs, natural flavouring, sugar, brewer’s yeast and fresh spring water the liquid was transferred to wooden vats where it is left to ferment.
The liquid goes on fermenting as it is bottled and corked in the old stone ‘Grey Hens’ – where it would fully mature and be ready to drink by the end of the week.
Today their processes have been updated through the addition of mild carbonation to replace the carbon dioxide lost in pasteurisation, which gives the product a longer life and keeps the level of alcohol to no more than 0.5%
Soon my recipes with Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola and other Fentiman drinks will follow.
Coca-Cola – The first and principal recipe was developed by John Stith Pemberton(1831 – 1888). Just before his death he sold the rights to Asa Griggs Candler (1851 – 1929) for US$2.300, who founed the The Coca-Cola Company in 1892.
Pepsi-Cola – The drink was developed in 1898 by Caleb Bradham (1867 – 1934) and at first called Brad’s Drink. Pepsin is the enzyme found in cola nuts.