Psssssssssssshhhht! The the sound of my favourite childhood Christmas drink from the 80’s being popped open. I am Generation Britvic.
As December rolled around I would look longingly into the drinks cabinet at the goodies reserved for the Christmas holidays. There was always a special bottle of gin, one of whisky, and a dry sherry, for the grown ups. The ginger ale and bitter lemon were on stand-by as festive mixers and also as a treat for my brother Ed and I. Those were what I had my eye on.
We lovingly called it "POP" in the North of England where I grew up, which funnily enough is the same as in the Midwest where I lived for 7 years.
On Christmas Day we slurped our fizzing pop from fancy cut-glass tumblers, (scored from the gas station using coupons) wide eyed at the feeling that this drink somehow made us sophisticated. The ginger ale tasted exotic and grown up, the bitter lemon was syrupy and lemony.
In today’s booming drinks market Ginger Ale and Bitter Lemon are unlikely to excite anyone under the age of 35, and to be honest without a botanical twist, me neither. I was noodling some N/A (non-alcoholic) drinks ideas with Susan Christina at Hola Sober when we descended into nostalgia sharing our childhood drinks memories. Britvic was the pop of choice and now, in our alcohol-free years we want to enjoy the same excitement of aperativo hour.
The Art of Crafting an N/A cocktail includes the same rituals as any other cocktail preparation;
“gather a set of quality and sometimes distinctive ingredients for your delicious drink, the botanical infusions, the pop, pour it all over fresh ice and into a special glass with a garnish on top.”
What do you remember about Britvic”?
“Every Christmas Auntie Fan used to sit there sipping bitter lemon while chain smoking a pack of fags over dinner” - Julie
“I think of little bottles of Britvic orange juice that were used for an orange juice and lemonade in the Police club that we used to go to on a Sunday” - Sam
“My mom loved a whisky and dry ginger” - Susan
So to honour our lifelong love of all things “pop” I rediscovered Britvic and found not only the old favourites but The London Essence Company crafted tonics, sodas and gingers.
Essence of Narnia Iced Tea (2 servings - 1 for you and 1 to share)
2 x Cranberry-Raspberry or Pomegranate Tea Bags
put into a small glass jug or pitcher, pour 2” of boiling water over the teabags, leave to steep and top up to 300 ml with cold water
Simple syrup or agave, to taste
3 drops rosewater (I love Nielsen Massey flavours)
1 x can orange & elderflower tonic
Chunks of ice
Pour 150ml of the pre-made tea into a highball glass
Stir in the simple syrup, rosewater, and top off with the orange & elderflower tonic
*you can scale this and make a larger pitcher of tea to leave in the fridge.. As a rule of thumb use 1 teabag per 150ml water but leave it strong because you want the full fizz when you add the tonic!
Whisky ‘mary (1 serving)
30 ml 0% Bourbon or Malt equivalent (I use Lyre's)
1 x cans grapefruit rosemary tonic
Large Ice Blocks if possible
Sprig fresh rosemary (optional)
In a large tumbler pour the 0% Bourbon or Malt over the ice
Top off with the grapefruit rosemary tonic
Garnish with a stick of fresh rosemary, rubbed around the glass rim
Persimmon Sour (2 servings - 1 for you and 1 to share)
90ml / 2 persimmon, rips and blended to a fine pulp
4 tsp egg white
10 ml simple syrup or agave
60 ml fresh lime juice
80 ml 0% white spirit (I love Pentire, Adrift)
Mix the persimmon pulp, egg white, sugar syrup, lime juice, 0% spirit in the cocktail shaker with the ice
Shake vigorously and strain into an elegant coupe glasses or similar
Fun note about Britvic
“19th century – Chemist Mr H D Rawlings began making vitamin drinks and tonics from his shop on Tindal Street, Chelmsford. The firm was later purchased by Ralph Chapman, who coined the name 'The British Vitamin Products Company', later to become Britvic.”
This is not a paid endorsement of Britvic. There are other brilliant mixers out there. All recipes and views are my own.