I’ve long been a fan of Fentimans Tonic, but it was only a few days ago I had the opportunity to try some of their other “Botanically Brewed Beverages.” While shopping at Whole Foods, I happened upon four-packs of Mandarin & Seville Orange Jigger and Rose Lemonade — on sale. How could I pass them up?
The intriguingly opaque orange soda and slightly pink rose lemonade each taste quite fine on their own. If you have a non-drinker coming to your home, I’m sure they would be delighted to have one of these instead of some high-fructose corn syrup bomb like Coke (or a chemical stew like Diet Coke). Be sure to serve it in a glass, so that the aromas can be enjoyed.
But I would be remiss in my duties as Odd Bacchus if I didn’t give you at least a few ideas for alcoholic beverages as well. Since I hadn’t worked with these sodas before, I wasn’t sure what booze would pair best with each. Vodka obviously works OK, but what about something with a little more flavor? An experiment seemed to be in order.
I gathered bottles of gin, rhum agricole (rum with a bit higher proof than normal), tequila and Cognac. In order to keep things fair, I used the same proportions for each alcohol: 1 part alcohol and 3 parts soda. Let’s begin.
Rose Lemonade Soda with Rum: Perhaps it was this particular rhum agricole, but this tasted oddly smokey. The rum did nothing to enhance the rose or lemon flavors. Grade: D
Orange Jigger with Rum: Again, the smokiness overpowered the other flavors. Perhaps with a different rum this would work, but for now, skip it. Grade: D
Rose Lemonade Soda with Tequila: This tasted rounder, with some subdued orange flavor underneath the lemon, but still not quite right. Grade: B-
Orange Jigger with Tequila: Mellow and orangey, but a little simple. Grade: B-
Orange Jigger with Cognac: Quite drinkable, with orange and caramel flavors. Grade: B+
Rose Lemonade Soda with Cognac: Surprisingly tasty and well-balanced. It tasted more complex, with fruity, aromatic flavors and rich caramel underbelly. Grade: A-
Orange Jigger with Gin: A complex cocktail with juniper, anise and orange flavors mixing into a heavenly brew. Grade: A
Rose Lemonade Soda with Gin: This combo smells amazing, with aromas of rose and juniper co-mingling beautifully. Aromatic, tart, not too sweet, complex — this was the whole package. I loved it. Grade: A+