I first tried this Cola a few years ago whilst on holiday - it was available in a farm shop at a campsite we were staying at - this is the kind of place you can expect to find Fentimans Curiosity Cola!
I bought a 750ml bottle of this just last week from a local farm shop which, thankfully, is literally one mile down the road. It cost £2.99 which sounds like a lot for a bottle of Cola less than half the size of a normal bottle of Coke or Pepsi, so why pay more?
First of all, I am not one for buying expensive luxury foods each week! This isn't something I buy regularly, in fact I have probably consumed around 10 bottles of this in my life time. There is something so special about this particular Cola that I can remember practically every location that I purchased it from or drank it.
Packaging - I was drawn in by the old fashioned traditional Victorian look of the bottle. It is nicely shaped and labelled in an eye-catching way (no flash modern day in your face colours here). The first one of these I kept I didn't actually want to throw the bottle away and it sat on a shelf in my bedroom for over a year as an ornament! (Then I recycled it...).
The Drink - Reminds me more of cola bottle sweets than of Coca Cola or Pepsi, it contains Ginger and Caramel too both of which can be tasted. The drink is botanically brewed and needs to be shaken before being opened (it is natural). Because it is brewed in such a way it is also slightly (only ever so slightly, 0.5%) alcoholic - no where near enough to have any effects and to still make it suitable for children. It is not very fizzy, don't let this put you off - I see this as a good thing because you can enjoy it without having the "gassy" after effects. This is also great because after buying the 750ml bottle and opening it, I stored this in the fridge and it tasted the same for each of the subsequent 3 days that I drank it.
I recommend this is you fancy something different to the normal Coke or Pepsi - you won't regret it!
Man oh man! It's like an angel dancing over your tongue wearing Doc Martens and a tutu. You think it's just a sweet , fizzy cola drink, and then BAM! A hint of ginger, a bitter bite at the back of your mouth and you realise this is a robust root-based beverage if ever there was one. It doesn't just fizz: it pops as well. They don't just mix it- they brew it. It's a brewed botanical beverage. You have to up end before drinking else you don't get the full power of the brew. Sure there is sugar in it, but this is the third ingredient listed not the first (Fermented Ginger Root Extract). What next? Catuaba extract and Gurana extract. I don't know what these are, but I will have a quick internet based search for you...
Well I never! It seems that catuaba is an aphrodisiac... and I can't find gurana like it says on the label, but guarana is a source of caffeine and can be used...to stimulate sexual desire.
Other ingredients include the less exciting (but crucial) phosphoric acid, caramel, cola flavour and caffeine.
They tend to sell this drink at historical attractions like Blists Hill in Shropshire. You pay over the odds to have it in surroundings straight from ye olde times, and can pretend you are a Victorian supping away at a drink originally regarded as a health tonic. Fentiman's haven't been around that long though, they just miss out on true Victorian credentials by being established in 1905.
Best served chilled.
August 2013 update: A Cherry Cola version is now available too- Yum Yum!
On one of our camping trips up in Aviemore about 3 years ago, my partner and I found this intriguing looking bottled beverage in the Glenmore shop right next to our campsite. The brand name was Fentimans, one I had never seen or heard of anywhere. What captured our attention most was the name of the drink itself, which is of course, curiosity cola.....curiosity indeed did get the better of us and we decided to buy a couple of bottles to try.
The Fentimans brand name has been around since 1905 when a gentleman's agreement took place between Thomas Fentiman and a fellow tradesman looking for a loan which saw the formulation of Fentimans botanically brewed Ginger beer. In exchange for the loan a unique recipe for ginger beer was handed over as security and this started what is now a very unique and original range of drinks due to the small fact that the loan was never repaid. Inspired by his Prize Alsatian Fearless, Thomas Fentiman came up with his logo which still remains strong today. With a range of botanically brewed drinks including the original ginger beer, curiosity cola, Seville orange Jigger, Shandy, Victorian Lemonade, Dandelion and Burdock and rose lemonade.
All of these beverages are botanically brewed which basically means the beverage is brewed using natural herbs and plant roots mixed with other natural products such as yeast and sugar, and when completed is left to ferment in large vats for 7 days from start to finish. Although brewed in this way the alcohol content of Fentimans drinks are no more than 0.5% due to the addition of mild carbonation in the process.
Fentimans curiosity cola is available in 275ml glass bottles which are very traditional in their appearance. An oval sticker on the main body of the bottle identifies the flavour of the beverage while the Fentimans logo is wrapped around the bottle neck. When we first started drinking fentimans a few years ago, we first thought we needed a bottle opener to get into it as it was a crimped on bottle cap that was used, but it turned out it was a screw cap in disguise. These days the bottle cap has been replaced with a more modern metal screw top lid which repeats the Alsatian logo on the top.
Curiosity cola looks exactly the same as any other brand of cola and would be difficult to differentiate without tasting the liquid itself, unless of course you notice the sediment that lingers on the bottom of the bottle. Fentimans believe that there's no point in botanically brewing a product if you're going to take the raw materials that produce the original flavour straight out after brewing so they've left those all important ingredients in, so it's important to remember to upend your drink before tasting to ensure the sediment is mixed through revitalising the flavour.
The fragrance emitted from the liquid is unmistakeable....it's cola of course, but this does't smell like any old cola, it smells sweet, like gummy cola bottles and I find myself instantly nostalgic, taken back to my childhood when I'd spend my pocket money on penny sweets from the local newsagents.
Well enough about the origins, packaging and appearance, i'm sure you're all curious to find out how it tastes. My personal opinion is that this is the best cola on the market today. Some might say it's a premium brand. The flavour itself is almost identical to the gummy cola bottle sweets, with a lovely vanilla flavour backed up with the slightest hint of ginger, this is a very refreshing drink, I only wish it came in bigger bottles, as 275ml does't last very long at all. With some carbonated soft drinks I find that they can be very fizzy when first opening but as fentimans is only lightly carbonated I find the fizz to be just about right in this beverage. Described as an adult soft drink with some under 16's referring to the cola as "gross", I think this is a truly original and authentic tasting soft drink, much better than coca cola and pepsi and it comes highly recommended by both me and my partner.
Fentimans unfortunately is not widely available, but it can be found in Tesco and every time we get in our monthly shop we buy a small stock of this delicious beverage. As it's so expensive this is a luxury for us with a single bottle costing £1.15 a bottle this is more expensive than your standard 500ml Coca cola branded colas so you could argue, premium quality cola for a premium quality price.
Each 275ml bottle will cost you around 130 calories and contains 31.9g or sugar and carbohydrates....not the greatest drink for your teeth....the other nutritional information is too irrelevant to even mention. With ingredients consisting of Fermented Ginger Root Extract, Carbonated water, Sugar, Catuaba Extract, Gurana Extract and cola flavouring along with some caramel colouring and caffeine.
===Do I recommend===
My Partner and I have been enjoying this cola soft drink for years now and hope to continue to enjoy it for years to come as it is a firm favourite in our household. Although a little on the pricey side, it really is well worth it just to be taken back in time to revisit your childhood. A refreshing drink that simply does not last long enough.
I drink a lot of carbonated drinks especially cola and I normally opt for Coca Cola and sometimes Pepsi. One day a few years ago though at my work someone was drinking Curiosity Cola and so I decided to sample some. I bought mine from Waitrose for around 1 pound but I can remember seeing them on promotion to give a cheaper individual cost overall.
The bottle I had then and have in front of me now contains 275ml of the drink and is in a clear glass bottle and so you can see the rich dark liquid when you purchase it. The label on the front says Curiosity Cola and makes the point that this is a traditional drink. The label on the reverse states that colas were originally created to be sold in apothecaries and were viewed curiously by the general public and even marketed as a health drink, I find that very interesting as now fizzy drinks including cola are often said to be bad for you, especially your teeth.
After you unscrew the lid and try the drink you really will notice the taste is so refreshing and unique. It is not as fizzy as other normal colas I buy and the taste is so different, in fact it reminds of the flavour of those 1 penny cola sweets you can buy from newsagents and other stores. I cannot recommend this enough, it is fantastic. Sometimes unless you were a connoisseur of such things it would be difficult to tell a lot of colas apart but there is absolutely no mistaking this one, the flavour is worlds apart in such a good way. This can be enjoyed by adults and children alike as on the label it states that this contains no more than 0.5% alcohol which you cannot taste in the drink anyway.
I recommend that you try this and of course you can recycle the bottle as well.
I love Cola. There are many Cola drinks on there market, but sometimes I feel like a change - something different.
I came across Curiosity Cola around 5 years ago, as I will go out my way to find different drinks. I was certainly curious! I wanted to try it - however, the price was a bit high...
I went for it anyway, and have never looked back!
Fentiman's are based in Northumbria and have been making drinks for nearly 100 years. They make other delicious drinks too:
Dandelion and Burdock
Manderin and Seville Orange Jigger
and now, Organic 'Cool' Ginger Beer and 'Smooth Lemonade'.
Curiosity Cola isn't flavoured with chemicals - herbs are used instead. As well as the ginger root extract , the drink contains catuaba (a herb/stimulant) and guarana (another stimulant). You can buy it in Waitrose, Sainburys and other small health shops.
Fentimans drinks come it thick, rugged looking, glass bottles, different to any other packaging out there, with an easy to open screw top!
Before opening the bottle, Fentimans suggest you ''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.'' - This will get the flavours going! Curiosity Cola is delicately fizzy, and won't overpower your mouth. Every that's tried it compares it to some sort of cola sweet- either cola bottles, or cola cubes - and I think they're right. It's odd, but delicious!
The only downside is the price. You can buy a 275ml and 750ml bottles - worth around £1 and £3 respectively.
I would highly recommend, this refreshing drink. It makes a lovely change to normal, boring drinks.
Here is the Nutritional Information for the Cola, incase you were curious...
Serving Size 1 bottle (275ml)
Natural Herbal Extracts
Phosphoric Acid (E338)
I'm a huge fan of the ginger beer equivalent to this, but the cola just didn't work for me in the same way. I suppose it's similar to the beer in that it's really proper, old-fashioned and uncompromising stuff, so it's probably closer to what cola used to be than the caramel-water now served up.
And of course cola was originally sold as a medicine! So here the botanicals are quite heavy and you end up with a very deep and sparkly flavour but one that has too much of a herbal taste around the edge for my palate.
The fact that it is so authentic probably means that it doesn't pander to the common denominator, so if you like proper cola (the way I like proper ginger beer) then you'll like this, but if you aren't so certain it's probably not watered-down enough in style to suit you.
The bottle is great, solid and much nicer than a can, and gives you less of a taste on your tongue when you drink from it. So the style is spot-on and I respect that, but it isn't my thing.
Fentimans have been making botanically brewed soft drinks since 1905 and are a small company based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyme. Curiosity Cola, one of their sodas comes in bottles of 275ml bottles, and contains 0.5% alcohol, which I found quite interesting. As well as this, Curiosity Cola is botanically brewed using an old recipe from yesteryear.
If I remember correctly, the first time I came across this product was early last year at college, for some reason they started selling it in the shop - which is strange for such a hard to find product. When I tried it, I was a bit taken aback, and did not recognise it as cola, it is much different from any others, but you can still taste that cola taste. In fact, it had a much more, as I would describe, earthy flavour with a small kick - which may have either been from the botanical brewing or the small alcohol percentage. Anyway, since I tried it, it was my new favourite, and ever since whenever I see it, I buy it. Unfortunately prices can range between £1-£2 depending on the place you are buying it from. To be honest, this product is pretty unique, I haven't seen anything else like it, and it's pretty hard to find, so I am willing to spend anything between £1 and £2. It's well worth it!
Oh yeah! This is one of those products you accidently try and wonder what other things in life you have been missing out on.
This is not a Coca-Cola substitute it's so much more.
There are a number of subtle ingredients which can be detected, but the initial taste will blast you back to childhood and remind you of the Cola-Cubes and Cola-Bottle sweets you spent your pocket money on.
I can't prove it but I'm pretty sure each bottle has a couple hundred of these sweets melted down. Don't be fooled though, it's not too sweet. It has been cleverly blended with other ingredients to make it extremely more-ish and drinkable all night.
It isn't sold in too many places, but it can be found in supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencers. Some upmarket Bars stock this (goes well with a shot or two of cointreau) so next time you are the designated driver, maybe instead of another Coke or Pepsi?
Curriosity Cola is one of a range of delicious Fentimens drinks. This is deffinitely the best of the bunch though.
Fentimans Traditional Curiosity Cola is a delicious drink and I just can't get enough of it!
Fentimans Traditional Curiosity Cola is a syrupy cola that tastes just perfect. You can taste the caramel (more so than Coca-cola, my 2nd favourite cola) and it's got just the right about of fizz in it. It's not really fizzy like Coca-cola or Pepsi, but it's not flat either, as I said, just the right amount. The drink is botanically brewed, so you need to up end the bottle before opening and pouring to mix that sediment in a bit.
This cola comes in a 275ml old style clear glass bottle, which is a bit like a beer bottle, with a screw top lid. All of Fentimans drinks come in the same shape bottle, so they are easy to spot in the shops. There are 3 labels on the bottle (all brown & cream coloured) - one on the neck with the Fentimans logo, one on the front of the bottle with the name of the drink and a few other details, and the 3rd is on the back with a bit about the cola, along with the ingredients.
I think one 275ml bottle of Curiosity Cola is enough to drink in one sitting. You wouldn't want too much of it as I think it would become a bit sickly due to it's syrupy taste. That said, a can of Coke is 330ml and costs around 50p - 60p, where as Curiosity Cola will set you back roughly £1.20 for a 275ml bottle, so this cola is more of a treat than something you'd drink regularly. It may seem quite expensive, but I think you're paying for the taste.
This is how cola used to be and this is how it should be!
Fentimans also have a range of other drinks, all in the same style of bottle, these include Shandy (now also available in a can), Victorian Lemonade (proper cloudy lemonade), Dandelion & Burdock, Ginger Beer and one or two others. I quite like the Shandy and the Victorian Lemonade, though buy the Curiosity Cola more often.
Where can you buy this stuff? Well, my local supermarket (Tuffins) sells it and I've also found it in a few health shops. Yes, health shops! Years and years ago cola used to be sold as health drinks, so maybe that's why!
So, if you want to treat yourself to a nice refreshing cola, but you're fed up of the gassy stuff, why not try a bottle of Fentimans Traditional Curiosity Cola?!
One day back in 2003 I was wondering through my local Waitrose store when I chanced upon Fentiman's Curiosity Cola, sitting on the shelf in its nice old-style little glass bottle. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I am occasionally a sucker for olde-worlde packaging, so instead of thinking "Oh look, another marketing scheme preying on people's inability to contain their feelings of nostalgia" I actually (being quite bored) thought, "Oh what the hell" and bought a bottle of it.
It's not cheap (yes, I shop in Waitrose- so I wasn't expecting it to be). The 275ml bottle cost 99p (Waitrose had a promotion back then where you could get 2 for £1.50 but that's still not amazingly cheap...) so I thought I'd better take the time to savour it. I suppose at least it was glass (back then, round here we could recycle glass bottles but not plastic ones- apparently).
It's essentially an old-style cola bottle. It has a crinkly metal cap just like those beautiful old glass Coca-Cola bottles (was there ever a better-looking drinks bottle than that?). You pull it off, it fizzes gently (as opposed to Coca-Cola which, if not handled with due care and attention beforehand, can go completely rabid when it smells the outside world) and it makes about two small glasses or one and a half medium ones.
It's fizzy but not too fizzy, and it's worth upending the bottle or shaking it gently (GENTLY he said... backing away) beforehand to make sure the ingredients are mixed properly (what with it being a "botanical" preparation).
Now what really makes this cola is the supreme taste. when I first tried it I was truly taken aback. My initial thought was "My God, it's just like those cola bottle chewy sweets I had at school". And it is. It has a strong, pungent, classical cola aroma and taste, and it's absolutely divine.
My only quibble really is that the people who make this drink don't seem to do it in larger bottles, which might make it more affordable. (And I have written to them to ask). Still, that has nothing to do with the taste and the quality of the drink, which is superb.
Maybe it wouldn't taste quite as nice in a plastic bottle anyway. Coke always tastes better in that nice little glass bottle- don't ask me why or how, it just does.
There isn't a lot more to say about it really (it is just a small bottle of cola after all- nothing more, nothing less), except to add that like other colas it goes well with lemon or lime (I haven't yet tried it with Southern Comfort although I expect it goes very well) and is of course best served ice cold.
Probably the best way to prepare it (in the summer anyway): add some ice cubes to a tall glass, some slices of lime, and top up with Fentiman's Curisoity Cola.
Recommended to everyone, especially as an occasional (or more than occasional) treat.
As a self confessed cola addict, there are plenty of products out there to keep my addiction well fed; the ubiquitous Coca Cola (allegedly The Real Thing), plenty of Pepsi and an abundance of own-brand fizzes. Add to that the new lemon, lime and vanilla variants, diet drinks and cola flavoured sweets and you would think that the market is pretty much covered. Saturated in fact. Well, so did I, until I came across a whole new player in the cola market whilst on my travels Fentimans Curiosity Cola. I must admit I was curious. How could this intriguingly named drink possible be any different to all the others out there?
Well, the basic answer is that this is a botanically brewed traditional cola. Yes, I know you are probably looking very sceptical at this, and yes, it does sound like a gimmick. Having said that, though, you are all probably perfectly happy with the concept of traditional lemonade and would agree that it tastes very different to modern lemonade. Well, this is really no different. Although you can debate the meaning and relevance of the word traditional until the cows some home, the fact remains that this is a very different product to The Real Thing.
**OK, so who are Fentimans? Ive never heard of them!**
Fentimans are a small family company based in Newcastle upon Tyne who have been making what they call adult soft drinks for nearly 100 years. It all began back in 1900, when tradesman Thomas Fentiman was approached for a loan by a fellow worker a deal was struck between the men, with the security on the money being the rather unusual recipe for botanically brewed ginger beer. As the loan was never repaid, Thomas found himself in a position to start up his own drinks company, which began trading in 1905. Since then, the company has expanded to offer six different drinks; as well as the Ginger Beer and Curiosity Cola, they also make Victorian Lemonade, Shandy, Seville Orange Jigger and the brand-spanking-new Dandelion and Burdock. The company prides itself on using only the finest ingredients and its own botanical brewing process in each one.
**Umm, botanical brewing ?**
The original recipe for their ginger beer involved a process of milling, steaming and fermenting ginger roots with sugar and brewers yeast that left a rather potent brew that would need a full week to mature. As herbs were added during the process to give natural flavourings, it became known as botanical brewing. The same basic process it still used today, although mild carbonation (adding a little carbon dioxide) is now used to keep the alcohol levels down to less than 0.5% by volume (which is why they can call it a soft drink). The process turned out to be so successful that the fermented ginger roots and herbs are at the core of all of Fentimans drinks, including the Curiosity Cola. The process creates a fine sediment in every bottle, which ensures that all the flavour and goodness extracted from the raw materials ends up in the bottle.
**Alright, but what is traditional about it?
By traditional, what Fentimans mean is that they are using an old-style cola recipe rather then the mixture of sugar, water and artificial flavourings that go into modern drinks. The first colas were invented way back in the 1880s, and for a long time were sold through chemist shops as health drinks and tonics. The idea behind this goes back to an old 17th century belief than drinking and bathing in natural mineral waters was a healthy thing to do; when it was discovered that the bubbles in such water were made by carbon dioxide, scientists began to find ways of making artificial mineral waters (fizzy drinks) to improve peoples health. When pharmacists later began adding herbs to these drinks, they were thought to be very medicinal colas, for example, were considered to be excellent nerve tonics!
Going back to this principal although of course without the miraculous health claims Curiosity Cola is flavoured with herbs rather than chemicals. As well as the fermented ginger root extract mentioned earlier, the drink contains catuaba (a Brazilian herb reputed to be an aphrodisiac and stimulant) and guarana (another stimulant, similar to caffeine).
**But what does it taste like?**
Ah yes, the important bit. Let me first just mention as an aside the wonderful packaging this drink comes in it is not normally something I bother with in reviews, but in this case I want to make an exception. As you may be able to see from the accompanying photos, Fentimans drinks come it chunky glass bottles, not unlike the sort of thing you would get independently brewed beers supplied in, I suppose. The metal caps are cunningly made to look like the ones you need a bottle opener for, but are actually screw tops; an ingenious bit of design that helps keep the bottle looking like the old fashioned drinks it is emulating, whilst making sure that they have the ease of opening we demanding consumers would expect. Although not as easy as with more conventional screw tops, I should add, and some people may have a little trouble opening their bottles. Personally, though, I love these bottles. They make it seem that you are really about to drink something that bit special, something different from the common plastic drinks bottles that we use every day.
Now, before tasting the drink, it is important to shake the bottle to mix up the sediment. I should point out that this is best done before you remove the cap, LOL! With it all shaken up, you can now remove the cap safely, which comes off with just a gentle fizz, no matter how shaken the bottle is Curiosity Cola is only lightly carbonated and nowhere near as gassy as the soft drinks I am used to. The smell wafting out of the bottle is unmistakeably of Cola Cubes, those boiled sweets that I remember from childhood, rather than Coca Cola or Pepsi. I loved cola sweets, and the first flavour of the drink does remind me a bit of them, although perhaps not as much as I would expect from the smell, and it certainly does not taste as sweet and sugary as you may expect from this description. It is on the aftertaste that things get really interesting, though. It is a little like the taste of Coca Cola, though not quite; it doesnt have that syrupy feel to it. I am aware of there being something else hidden in the flavourings, something that gives it a distinctive, full bodied taste, something I cant quite put my finger on. It may well be the ginger root I can taste, but if it is, then it is a very subtle flavour indeed as I normally hate ginger.
It all combines to give a wonderful twist on what we now accept as colas, and I fell in love with it. This is what I would drink all the time if only (a) they would do it is a diet version and (b) it wasnt so darned expensive. And you dont need to take my word for it, either. Critics in the Guardian (January 2002) gave it a glowing write up, although noted that amongst the panel of tasters they had that it was an adult drink in every sense; under 16s who tried it claimed that it was gross. Still, it is their loss I suppose, and it leaves more for us adults!
Highly recommended, very refreshing and far superior to the Real Thing.
Being a small independent company, Fentimans is not very widely available. According to their website, Curiosity Cola is available in Fenwicks of Newcastle and selected Booths, Safeway (it is unclear whether Morrisons have now taken this line over, though), Past Times and Waitrose; I have also seen it on sale in several National Trust properties, my local Tesco and a few pubs as well. Alternatively, it is available through mail order with several online companies. See: www.fentimans.com/findus.asp.
Curiosity Cola is only sold in 275ml glass bottles, which sell for between £1 and £1.50 each.
Unfortunately, no nutritional information is available for this drink, either on the bottle or Fentimans website (www.fentimans.com).
90 Grey Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
P.S. With thanks to Bono for my title! ;-)