Going fizzy over a pop

SODA LEMON GINGER POP Which is the drink that’s right on top? Photo: Sudhakara Jain

SODA LEMON GINGER POP Which is the drink that’s right on top? Photo: Sudhakara Jain

Pop! A hard push on the round marble sealing the mouth of the bottle and it drops into the chamber; the exhilarating whoosh of the carbon dioxide escaping the bottle follows and the cool, refreshing soda can be gulped down from the green or cobalt-coloured, heavy glass bottle. Often mixed with lemon or orange juice, crushed ice, chaat masala and rock salt, the Goli Soda is slowly creeping its way back into the popular domain in Bengaluru, thanks to the heat and the revival of the soda drinking culture in the city.

Popular earlier in Tamil Nadu than in any other southern State, the Goli Soda is gaining ground in the city which is hitting temperatures higher than its neighbouring State capitals. And while the soda is facing tremendous pressure from industrial giants, it has shown to be resilient despite the tough competition and lack of awareness among soda consumers. Apart from the traditional soda, flavoured versions like blueberry, strawberry and even cocktails are hitting the market.

What’s getting the drink, often seen in pushcarts or in departmental stores in the old Bangalore and Cantonment areas, some attention now is the revamping the traditional soda has received over the years. From PepsiCo’s launch of 7UP Nimbooz masala soda and the range of home-grown coloured soda brands like Boconto and Torino among others, and even many versions of Goli Soda cocktails in joints like The Open Box, the conventional soda has taken new forms giving major soft drinks a run for their money.

Naadan Selvam, a departmental store owner in Ulsoor, says there has been a demand for the bottled drink in recent times. “We usually have takers for the PET bottle versions of soda, but now customers want to experience the pleasure of drinking from the heavy, smooth-mouthed glass bottle. It may be the start of a revival of the traditional Goli Soda. The bottles also attract a lot of attention due to their unique make and shape as well as the signature marble pop. We usually sell at least 50 bottles a day, sometimes more.”

Daniel Diwakar, a young call-centre employee, regularly catches up with pushcart vendor and childhood friend Faiyaz Ali in the Shivajinagar area for a cool Goli Soda drink in the afternoons and chats about their favourite film stars and local gossip.

“It’s a regular weekly pastime for both of us to meet and stand in the shade drinking Goli Soda and catching up on what’s happening around us. I grew up on this drink and it’s an experience I would love to pass on to future generations. While most of my colleagues and friends have taken to fancy aerated soft drinks, nothing beats the heat and chills you like the Goli Soda. I have encouraged a number of people around the neighbourhood to give the drink a try and not one has been dissatisfied.”

Faiyaz points out that while supply of bottles has stopped since the manufacturing companies are few, their only option is to re-use the bottles.

“We are very careful in handling the bottles with care. We can’t afford to break any.” The Cobalt-coloured bottles are also rare and make for a collector’s item.

Kiran Kumar, another pushcart vendor on Bazaar Street in Ulsoor, says they roughly sell around 30 bottles a day. “Though it is just Rs. 10, the number of customers has only recently started to increase. Since the bottles have to be returned, customers can’t take it home. That is one disadvantage for us. A lot of shops have started selling the sodas so business seems promising.”

While there are concerns over hygiene, Faiyaz and Kiran, emphasise that they employ rigorous scrubbing methods in the filling plant that cleans the bottles thoroughly.

While usually the acidic properties and high sugar content points to negative health aspects from consuming soda, the drink is also positive as a good hydrating agent, a natural coolant and a source of sugar boost.

What is Goli Soda?

To many born around the 2000’s, the Goli Soda may be an unfamiliar term. This iconic, refreshing summer beverage is a tasty, lemon drink that has gained cult status over the last several decades. Also called Banta in the North, what makes the drink special is the Codd-neck bottle it is served in. Designed and patented for carbonated drinks in 1872 by British swig maker Hiram Codd of Camberwell, London, the glass bottle is specially made to encase a round marble and a rubber washer in the neck. The name goli comes from the term used for marble in Tamil. The bottles are filled upside down and the pressure from the carbonated contents forces the marble against the washer, causing a natural seal. The bottle also has a small chamber for the marble to fall into when it is pushed to open the seal, so that it does not hinder the flow of the soda when it is drunk.

Make your own masala soda


Chilled soda: 800 ml

Kokum syrup: 6 tbsp

Lemon juice: 1 tbsp

Black peppercorns (crushed): 5-6

Rock salt: 1/2 tbsp

Fresh mint leaves (torn): 10-12

Crushed ice


Pour kokum sherbet in a glass jar and add rock salt, lemon juice and crushed black peppercorns to it and stir. Add soda to the sherbet and stir again. Check the seasoning. Take tall glasses, cover it with crushed ice and mint leaves and pour the sherbet on it. Serve chilled.

Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 4


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Printable version | Jun 9, 2022 9:57:08 am |