Soda bars with countless fizzing flavours spring up in town

Published June 29, 2022
A worker prepares different flavours of soft drink at a soda bar on Burns Road.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
A worker prepares different flavours of soft drink at a soda bar on Burns Road.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: The cowboy enters a bar and asks for potato crisps, which he keeps putting in his mouth to build on his thirst before asking for a chilled bottle of his favourite soda drink. It is the only thing that can quench his thirst. In another scenario there are these guys trying to build up their courage before taking on some big challenge in the mountains. The thing that really bucks them up then is that bottle of their favourite cold drink. Suddenly all challenges seem like illusions of the mind. And then you come to those foodies whose mouth is on fire after consuming hot food. The fire can only be put out with their favourite cold drink.

Call them cold drinks, soft drinks, fizzy drinks, aerated waters, soda pop or carbonated drinks, folks, especially kids, have always been drawn to them. Those who discourage the young from having them now were themselves crazy about cold drinks.

There used to be a time when you used to get these drinks in the sparkling glass bottles sealed off with glass marbles. You had to hit the marble on the head to make it fall inside the bottle to enjoy the fizzy drink. Back then there weren’t so many flavours available in soft drinks as you have now but raspberry was a huge favourite with children. Then came the metal bottle caps and plastic caps that could seal in the gas or carbon dioxide along with the cans. Now we have the new and upcoming soda bars that prepare these drinks right there before your eyes.

Although all these soft drinks contain similar ingredients such as water, sweetener, flavouring, colouring, the key ingredient is the gas, or the carbon dioxide. In fact the drinks seem to lose their flavour without the gas. Then they are just flat. Also soft drinks at room temperature are not desired as they taste the best when ice cold and bubbling.

There were just a few fizzy drink brands that can be counted on the fingertips such as the always popular cola or lime drink, also referred to as black or white soft drinks, along with the orange, pineapple, raspberry, lychee, apple cider flavours and one or two more.

Those with extra caffeine added are known as energy drinks. But all these and more can now be found at the soda bars. Just like the ice cream parlours which offered multiple flavours far more than the packaged ice creams available in store freezers, they also boast of over 20 or 30 flavours and mixing the flavours gives your unlimited cocktails or mocktails.

There are ‘Thirsty’, ‘1°C’ and so many more soft drink soda bars like them all offering unlimited flavours, chilled and bubbling and concocted before your very eyes.

Thus you have ‘blue apple’ flavour cold drink, ‘zeera masala’ flavour cold drink, ‘peach crush’, ‘black berry’, ‘golden apple’ along with the usual strawberry, pineapple, cola, orange, lemon or limca with mint or chillies or without, etc. There are also milk soda beverages such as kulfa milk, chocolate milk, mango milk and rose milk flavours. These days they are all the craze among kids who are also pushing their elders to taste the drinks.

The hot weather, also, plays a role here. A Rs60, Rs80 or Rs110 seems like a small price to pay in the heat anyway.

Still, no matter how nice they all taste, and no matter how refreshing all these cold drinks are, they all carry the same side effects. Their high sugar content can lead to tooth decay and cavities and the preservatives in them can lead to bone loss and kidney or liver disease. That’s where your grandparents and their remedy beverages for the hot weather, which carry no side effects and may even be good for health, such as red sherbet, almond sherbet and lassi may also not be forgotten.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2022

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