One of the best things about travelling is the chance to taste the country you’re in: trying the traditional dishes and snacking from street stalls, drinking the local alcoholic beverage (and enjoying it, or at least pretending to); judging the country not just with your eyes, but also with your tastebuds.

Many countries pride themselves on a national soft drink, which is so prevalent within the country that its residents don’t know that their favourite drop isn’t available anywhere else. Or that if it is, it’s super-expensive and not as freely available as it is back home. One of the benefits of travel is being able to try all of these new flavours; one of the downsides is having to leave them behind when you move on. These days, most of these drinks are produced by Coca-Cola, giving them a slight genericness, but the flavours remain.

New Zealand: L&P

L&P New Zealand soft drink
The L&P monument in Paeroa, New Zealand
The name of New Zealand’s national soft drink causes confusion for some. “I have allergies,” one tourist told me, “I’m okay with the lemon, but I’m not sure if I can drink paeroa.” Well, given that the “Paeroa” in “Lemon and Paeroa” is a small town in the North Island, I think the tourist might have some trouble getting it down. The drink is so-named because it was originally produced in the town and used local spring water; it’s a variation on lemonade.

Brazil: Guaraná

Produced from the berries of the guaraná plant, or at least with the flavour of berries from the guaraná plant, Brazil’s soft drink has a soft flavour with a slight energy boost to go with it. It might be the guaraná, it could just be the sugar, either way it’s tasty.

Malta: Kinnie

Kinnie’s flavour comes as a shock to the unprepared, though the dark-orange colour of the drink should give some clue as to its bitter orange flavour. And it is bitter, not sweet: not to everyone’s taste but certainly popular in its home country of Malta.

Austria: Almdudler

Almdudler sign Austria
An Almdudler sign in Austria
Austria’s Almdudler bears some resemblance to L&P: the slightly brownish tinge and a hint of lemon flavour. However, New Zealanders don’t do with L&P what Austrians do to Almdudler: mix it with wine. Almdudler Weiss is a common mixed drink and appears on almost all menus: it’s just Almdudler and white wine. You could choose to have Coke Rott instead if you wanted (that’s coke and red wine, if you were wondering), but in my opinion Almdudler is better enjoyed straight.

Kenya: Stoney Gingerbeer

Stoney is available in several East African countries, but will always be a symbol of my time in Kenya. Our group would order a crate of mixed softdrinks, which would come packed with Coke, Sprite, several flavours of Fanta, and three or four Stoneys. Only two of the thirteen of us liked it, or maybe the others knew how much we enjoyed it and left it for us; either way she and I always got a bottle each. There’s nothing more refreshing than a cold Stoney gingerbeer, drunk through a straw from a glass bottle on a hot Kenyan afternoon.

Peru: Inca Kola

The bright-yellow colour of Peru’s Inca Kola and its distinctive logo has made it a symbol of the country, now seen on tourist t-shirts the world over. The sweetness takes a bit of getting used to, but you’re sure to become addicted during your time in the country.

Inca Kola soft drink peru
Inca Kola and Peruvian food

Scotland: Irn Bru

Perhaps the sweetest option on the list, and certainly the most heavily food-coloured, Scotland’s bright-orange national drink is named Irn Bru (“iron brew”, if you find that spelling incomprehensible) because iron girders are supposedly used somewhere in the brewing process. It’ll make you strong, they say. It’ll definitely give you energy; it contains quite a bit of sugar.

You can tell a lot about a country by the food the inhabitants eat, and the flavour of soft drink the residents favour also says a lot.

What is the most interesting soft drink you’ve tried while travelling?

Your thoughts on "Soft drinks of the world"

  • I tried L&P recently, quite tasty. I was wondering what Paeroa was too haha. Good to know!

    on October 27, 2011 at 5:17 pm Reply
  • Great post. Guarana is the best. Antartica!

    on October 27, 2011 at 7:21 pm Reply
  • Can't forget Thums Up in India!

    on October 28, 2011 at 9:25 pm Reply
    • Never had one of those ... we've got to get to India sometime!!

      on October 29, 2011 at 1:29 pm Reply
      • Yes. I come from India and here Thums Up is one of the famous Beverages people drink. You find posters of it if you visit big cities. By the way, i would love to taste L&P soon in New Zealand. It is one of the favorite countries on Earth i would love to go!

        on October 30, 2011 at 1:36 am
    • Thumbs up and Limca are great! Thumbs up is the strongest cola you will find and Limca is an indian spin on lemonade and delicious!

      on November 1, 2011 at 11:44 pm Reply
      • Yum, looking forward to them :)

        on November 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm
  • I don't know if it is one of those urban myths, but ask any Scotsman and they will tell you that Scotland is one of the few places in the world that the local soft drink (Irn Bru) outsells Coca Cola. Local legend has it that it is good for hangovers, which expains why they sell so much of it.

    on November 3, 2011 at 10:28 am Reply
    • With all that sugar, it's definitely good for hangovers!

      on November 3, 2011 at 11:54 am Reply
  • There is a soft drink in the north of England called Dandilion and Burdock. It has the colour of cola however, I can assure you that it does not taste of it.

    on November 5, 2011 at 3:11 pm Reply
    • Oh yeah! There are some nice variations from small companies around the place: I didn't know it was a north England speciality.

      on November 6, 2011 at 9:40 am Reply
    • Mmm, yes Dandelion and Burdock is tasty. I bought some when I went to visit my grandma. She found it funny how intruiging and odd it seemed to me.

      on November 20, 2011 at 10:21 pm Reply
  • The worst I've tried is Sarsi in Malaysia. It's a Sarsaparilla drink that is high on the awful scale. The Malaysians, however, love the stuff.

    on February 28, 2012 at 4:50 am Reply
  • Oh, I do like me some of that wierd milk-based Rivella so popular in Switzerland.

    on March 21, 2012 at 11:49 am Reply
  • When its india it the taste the thunder drink THUMBS UP.

    on August 11, 2012 at 6:53 am Reply

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