Ramune, a Japanese fizzy drink, is still very popular with patrons in Kolkata. As soon as you lift the Codd-neck bottle and stab at the marble inside, the memory of Banta Soda of Delhi will course through your mind. If you have ever been to Delhi, especially during summers, you would know how popular Banta Soda, also known as Goli Soda (in South India), is. It is primarily seen in hot summer months with street vendors selling the famous thirst-quencher. Travelling from Punjab to Delhi, Banta Soda is a carbonated lemon and rock salt or orange-flavoured soft drink. This tangy fizzy drink has now climbed up the social charts too and is being served in upmarket cafes and bars of Delhi with a makeover. While it is known as ‘Delhi’s local drink since the 1870s, it is quite popular as ‘Fotash Jol’ in suburban Kolkata.
The soda beverages made their way to the British colonisers as they became popular in England at the beginning of the 19th century. Notably, Parsi entrepreneurs introduced soda beverages in the commercial markets. As per an article by historian Dinyar Patel, Mumbai has got over 150 licensed soda factories.
Below are some of the vintage ‘made in India’ carbonated drinks that have gained popularity across the country.
When in Mumbai and while visiting an Irani café, you cannot help but taste the fiery sweetish Raspberry Soda of Pallonji’s. A bottle of Pallonji’s raspberry soda comes with a disclaimer “Contains no fruit”. The raspberry soda, electric red in colour and syrupy sweet in taste, is a beloved cultural icon of India’s fast-disappearing Parsi community. Manufactured by PV Solanki, this 149-year-old chilled beverage has made the brand global from Indian cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi to London.
Started in 1906, the iconic drink from Kolkata is available in two flavours: Lemonade and Ice Cream Soda. It is refreshing to drink along with Kathi rolls from Nizams or a plate of Chowmein while in New Market, Dharmatala. Cottons has been a part of many of our childhoods in Kolkata and an integral part of the trips to New Market.
Arrived in the market in 1958, the grape-flavoured fizzy drink is Tamil Nadu’s favourite drink. Having a tangy grape cola taste, Bovonto tastes more delicious and less carbonated. Manufactured by Kalimark Bovonto, this soda beverage has a regional taste and it goes along with any kind of cuisine making your taste buds linger forever.