It's not quite like hauling coals to Newcastle, but I didn't actually have to go to London to find Fentimans
sodas, since they were right under my nose in Park Slope, for some time already, both at my favorite food shop, D'Vine Taste, and the stellar beer emporium Bierkraft. Still, I was unaware of Fentimans sodas until the day I went ogling my way through the food halls of Harrod's without intending to buy anything, a foodie equivalent, I think, of wandering the alleys of Amsterdam's red light district just for a look-see. But I was thirsty, so I took a look at the soft drink offerings and noticed Fentimans botanically brewed beverages. What struck me was that some of them were made with juniper berries and an herb I'd never heard of called speedwell
. Having gone to the trouble of devising my own non-alcoholic gin substitute
, any drink containing juniper would catch my interest. I purchased the Mandarin & Seville Orange Jigger, which is made with 30% Mandarin juice, Seville orange essence, carbonated water, ginger, and the aforementioned botanicals. It was delicious--tangy, with a definite but not-too-strong juniper presence, and not too sweet (though I might have preferred it even less sweet). I think this would be a good soft drink for gin lovers on the wagon.
Upon returning to New York I tried two other flavors, also containing juniper and speedwell. The dandelion and burdock was simply not my cup of soda. It had too much of a gumball kind of taste--it might appeal to people with a fondness for birch beer and sarsaparilla. The Victorian Lemonade was more to my taste, quite tart, but with less of a juniper presence than the Orange Jigger.
Fentimans sodas seem to be available at a number of shops in the New York area, including small gourmet shops, Fairway, and Dean & DeLuca.