The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry | A Sydney Food Blog

Suspicious Drinks

April 27th, 2009  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  3 Comments

Every now and then, my friends and I throw a dinner party where the challenge is to bring the weirdest beverages possible.

Last time, Sophie not only hit the “suspicious drink lottery” – she did it UN-style, with her bag of German Strawberry Juice, Indonesian Creaming Soda and Chinese Bird’s Nest Drink (which listed “bird’s nest” as an actual ingredient). Oh, and let’s not forget Soursop, another eccentric Asian contender.

The strawberry drink was unbelievably, headscratchingly good. I suspected it was really a carton of sugar in disguise, because it was so addictively sweet. But the main ingredient truly was strawberry – and not a wimpy, watered-down version of the fruit but a maxed-out berry-thick glug of a drink. The food miles of carting such a product from Europe are terrible, but I salute the Germans for inventing a beverage that truly lives up to its name: Happy Day, indeed.

Bird’s nest drink sounds horrific, like you’re about to have liquified twigs and feathers, but it was surprisingly OK. It tasted like a watery chestnut drink. It was way better than the Greek blueberry juice we once tried, the one with dubious health claims that pretty much ensured we’d live forever after a glass or two of it. But maybe if you can stomach something that tongue-repelling, you’re made of invincible stuff.

More recently, I bought some weird bottles and cans from my local Asian supermarket. The worst was called Common Self-Heal Fruit Spike Drink (their marketing team really needs to work on that), it tasted like mass-marketed iced tea. Orange Lemon Honey Drink looked dodgy but was, as Sophie pointed out, surprisingly “delish” – it was like the Oasis sugary tea drinks from the 90s.

Because the first drink was so unpopular, we started to dole out small amounts of the remaining ones to try (sort of like a wine tasting, except with non-alcoholic hyper-coloured beverages and no one making hoity toity comments about oak notes). There was Japanese Strawberry Juice that was highlighter-pink and unlikely to have had any fruit content at all, but boy was it a lot of fun. It also came with bonus jelly blobs, which is one of those non-essentials that’s always a delight.

The upstage of the night belonged to a drink with a plain (yet definitely suspicious) name: Milk Drink. I was worried that people throwing up after glugging it would be a real possibility, especially as the ingredients were milk powder, water and some weird preservatives. But it was surprisingly … nice. Lisa said it tasted like condensed milk – a flavour that’s an instant childhood-transporter – and I’d admit, that’s what it’s like. A thinner, more drinkable version of it, but still, not a bad thing. And definitely better than Malk, from The Simpsons. That’s the ultimate suspicious drink.

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  1. Y says:

    Very funny! I love looking at the drinks section in Asian supermarkets too. I remember drinking fake ‘bird’s nest drink’ before. It was sweet, with jellied strands floating around, which were meant to mimic the bird spit of the authentic version. No mention about what the Indonesian Creaming Soda was like?

  2. leetranlam says:

    I love that you are a bird’s nest drink survivor, too! I didn’t realise it was meant to taste like bird spit (weird!)?

    Thanks for the (well-spotted!) question about the creaming soda. It actually tasted like what you think a creaming soda soft drink would taste like, but a little less harsher than the versions here. A bit more gentler and sweeter, I think, but not hugely different.

  3. Karen says:

    Soursop is actually custard apple! I dare say the drink came from Indonesia as well.

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Hi, I'm Lee Tran Lam. When not blogging with my mouth full, I'm usually writing, presenting Local Fidelity on FBi radio, making zines, producing podcasts or continually breaking promises about how I really am gonna get through my book pile one day.

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This is a blog about eating and drinking in Sydney, Australia (with the odd cross-border or off-topic detour). BYO appetite.

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