When abroad, pretending to be a local by shopping at a grocery store is my favorite thing to do. It is a wonderful way of getting to know the culture and the people.
For instance, imagine walking down the beverage isle in a Swiss grocery store. Have you ever heard of bevs like Flauder, Gazosa or Pepita? Probably not - unless you have lived in Switzerland! In fact, thee are a great variety of Swiss sodas available, some bottled in small batches while others mass produced in industrial quantities.
Here is a selection of my favorite seven Swiss soda beverages! Disclaimer: Most of these will require a trip to Switzerland, as they are not being exported...
Exotic passion in a bottle - passion fruit, that is! Passaia has always been a favorite of mine, and I would even pack some in my checked luggage headed for the US!
This Swiss soda has been around since the 1960s when it pioneered exotic flavors in Switzerland. Despite an abundance of exotic beverages available today, Passaia should be on the top of your list of Swiss sodas to try!
Available at Migros
Arguably, Flauder has the most distinct taste of all sodas in this list. Made from a secret recipe containing at least melissa balm and elderberries, the genius behind Flauder's unmistakable flavor is Gabriela Manser.
In the Appenzell region where Flauder in bottled, people have long had special herbs for all walks of like: For luck and happiness, for balance, courage and energy. Based on this old wisdom, she has come up with just the right blend of Alpine herbs to create a Swiss cult soda!
For many Swiss, Elmer Citro brings back memories of school trips to the mountains. After a day of hiking, this lemony fresh carbonated beverage tasted simply heavenly...
Today, the most popular way of consuming Elmer Citro has to be Panaché though: Add one quarter into a glass and fill it up with beer! Yumm!
Gazosa La Fiorenzana
Exuding a feeling of vacationing in the South, the Gazzose Ticinesi are a traditional beverage with modern style. Bottled in a small town near Bellinzona since 1921, Gazosa La Fiorenzana has never lost its charm. In fact, it is increasingly popular north of the Alps.
Go to any bar or restaurant that has a name, and you will find a line-up of these charming glass bottles with metal lids. Flavors include anything from lemon to raspberry. But for the original taste, order "La Fiorenzana" with bitter orange flavor.
Choclo Sparkling Chocolate Soda (no longer available)
According to the makers, Choclo was a symbol for happiness. This soft drink combined the tempting flavors of chocolate with the refreshing sparkles of carbonated Swiss water! Need more convincing, still? Take this fact: even the ancient Mayas used to brew cacao with water - creating a drink for the gods called Xocolatl!
The fact that Rivella contains 35 percent milk whey makes it an über-Swiss beverage. It's epic, that's for sure, and it has been around for generations.
According to their own sources, the Swiss consume 2 million glasses of Rivella - per day! I think that this statistic may need revised as the red bull has become prevalent among the younger generations. However, us children of the 80's will still prefer to sip on an ice-cold Rivella after a hike, soccer game or bike ride.
It is a case of "David vs. Goliath": A small bottler from the tiny canton of Appenzell decides to create a Swiss Cola and go up against the market leader from Atlanta, USA!
Called Goba Cola, this beverage was devised by the woman behind Flauder - another innovative Swiss soda! Instead of cane sugar, Gabriela Manser's Goba Cola contains the natural sweetener Stevia. Compared to Coca Cola, this substitution reduces the calories in half.
And, like with any delicacies from Appenzell, there is a secret mix of Alpine herbs from the Alpstein region that make this cola a beverage you need to try!