Fentimans, Soda, Botanically Brewed Beverages, 1905 Recipe, Shandy, Lemonade, Ginger Beer, Tonic Water, Dandelion Burdock, United Kingdom, British, English, Canada, Canadian, Napoleon Veltri, President, Drink, Soda, What to drink

Fentimans Botanically Brewed Beverages - Find. Eat. Drink.


It all began with a handshake and an English gentleman’s word. A deal was struck between two men, one being Thomas Fentiman. In exchange for a loan, he was given a recipe for botanically brewed ginger beer as credit. The loan was never repaid, so Fentiman became the owner of the recipe.

That was back in 1905. Since then, Fentimans has been brewing botanical sodas with ingredients like roots, bark and flowers, and with the exception of adding new flavors, they are still making their sodas the same as they did back at the turn of the century.

We caught up with Fentimans North American President, Napoleon Veltri, to find out about their unique sodas and why they’ve been banned from the state of Maine.

Fentimans Q & A

Q. Please tell us what makes Fentimans sodas unique?

A. Fentimans makes use of a unique botanical brewing process that produces its unique, delicious taste. Natural botanical ingredients (natural roots, bark, flowers etc.) are placed into the liquid to infuse it with their unique botanical characteristics, and they are boiled together (as tea leaves are infused into boiling water to create a ‘cuppa tea’). The resulting product, with its botanical ingredients still present, is then allowed to age in a sealed container, undergoing the process of fermentation for seven days.

The final result is a unique soft drink that retains a century old brewing process to create one of six delicious flavors of Fentimans.


Q. Are your products the same in North America as in England?

A. Yes, both our US and UK divisions use the same recipe and brewing methods to create Fentimans. Here in the US, Fentimans North America has purchased identical brewery equipment to that used decades ago, to maintain the uniquely cherished Fentimans flavor.


Q. Tell us about the Shandy?

A. Fentimans Shandy utilizes premium hops and malted barley in the fermentation process before being infused with natural lemon juice. The end result is ‘Shandy,’ a traditional full-bodied British Soda that is 70% beer and 30% lemonade. This flavor is extremely popular in the UK in multiple varieties, with Fentimans being one of the most well known. Despite its beer content, some customers may confuse it with an actual alcoholic beverage. In actuality, like all Fentimans products, all alcoholic content is removed during the brewing process with only 0.5% trace amounts remaining, as with nearly all common soft drink products on the market. Fentimans Shandy can be enjoyed by patrons of all ages, though its unique flavor may be best suited to a more sophisticated beverage enthusiast.

Q. We gotta ask... Fentimans was banned from being sold to minors in Maine. What sayeth you?

A. It is unfortunate that the younger folks in Maine are denied their right to a bottle of Fentimans in the hot afternoon. The truth of the matter though, is that as soon as this ‘prohibition’ came into effect, our fan mail from Maine skyrocketed with requests about where to find our products.

The American people are renowned for standing up for freedom, even if its freedom to drink a quality soft drink, and despite this ruling we do have a considerable sales presence and demand for Fentimans in Maine. We proudly display the content and ingredients of our products on every single one of our bottles, including the aforementioned 0.5% trace alcoholic content. Strangely enough, several other beverage brands contain the exact same % of alcohol, or more, but do not label their products as such.

Q. How does Fentimans tonic water differ from more mainstreams tonic waters? And do you have a favorite gin to mix it with?

A. Fentimans Tonic water has a much more crisp, clear taste than other competitors. The botanical brewing process creates a tonic water that is fresher, and in our opinion, much more delicious when mixed.
A Gin & Tonic made from Hendrick’s Gin and Fentimans Tonic Water is absolutely magic.


Q. What is used to sweeten the drinks?

A. Cane sugar.


Q. Coke is the most famous in the cola market, but Fentimans Curiosity Cola is... (fill in the blank):

A. A delicious, true representation of cola brewed circa 1905.


Q. With the variety of botanicals used to make Fentimans drinks, is it considered a “health drink?”

A. In the olden days, soft drinks and colas were sold on what was believed to be their health merits, and was perhaps one of the key factors in the creation of the botanical brewing process during that time.

Today, we continue to brew Fentimans in the same fashion to focus on achieving the same century old taste that is rarely available in today’s mass marketed colas, as opposed to placing our emphasis on the health benefits of botanical ingredients. Though we agree with their healthy merits, a hardcore health enthusiast might not point you to a soft drink as a ‘health drink,’ based on principal alone. But then, perhaps they have yet to experience a Fentimans. 


Q. Can you share some expert tips on how to taste distinguishing qualities in sodas? What makes a specialized soda stand out?

A. Much like how a good wine can be analyzed by an expert taster, so too can a well-made soda by the knowledgeable individual. Today’s mass produced sodas retain not even a passing resemblance to the colas of yesteryear.

In most cases, restaurants, bars and lounges do not even stock bottles of soft drink, but merely a plastic bladder of high sucrose/fructose and caramel colored syrup that is mixed heavily with carbonated water upon being dispensed. It is truly a case of quantity over quality.

Fentimans has never skimped on its roots, both literally and figuratively. It is always perfectly brewed and portioned into our distinctive, historical bottles which capture the flavor.

Like wine, a good soda must have a full-bodied aroma, and Fentimans is no exception. The instant you pop the bottlecap off a bottle of Fentimans Curiosity Cola, the deep, undeniable smell of traditional cola will fill your nostrils. Next there is the taste. Fentimans prides itself on recreating a century old recipe, and it will show the second the first drop of a Fentimans meets your taste buds. Whereas the mass-market competitors might vary in how sugary they are and nothing more, a Fentimans can be identified almost instantly. Every customer who samples a Fentimans will instantly understand the delicious, sophisticated nature of old-style soda.


Q. Where are your products currently available?

A. Fentimans Botanically Brewed Beverages are currently available across North America, including all states in the lower 48, and up north in Canada. We are most commonly found in specialty stores and grocers that stock bottled beverages that the larger, mass produce stores might not carry (though, we are constantly expanding into the shelves of the larger retailers as well).

Q. Any restaurants or bars?

A. Definitely. Fentimans Ginger Beer and Tonic Water are highly prized by many bars, lounges and mixologists across North America, and we are constantly expanding.


Q. Any interesting new flavors on the horizon?

A. Fentimans UK has recently announced a new flavor, Rose Lemonade, which is already available in their markets.  It has yet to make a transition over to North America, but you could definitely say it is on the horizon.


Q. Who else in your field is doing things you think deserve more praise?

A. We find Jones Soda’s use of fan created images on its packaging to be a fun concept.


Q. Are there any great “ watering holes” in Vancouver that you could recommend?

A. Afterglow, Glowbal Grill, Joe Fortes, and Goldfish Kitchen. All have great cocktail menus, and great food as well.


Q. In your travels, have you found some interesting regional beverages that you’d recommend we try?

A. Galvanina Blood Orange is an excellent beverage hailing from Italy. It has a unique, European quality about it.

Cocktail Recipes

- Try these seven cocktail recipes using Fentimans.


Fentimans North America President Napoleon Veltri ’s recommendations on other sodas you should be drinking and where to drink in Vancouver.

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