So, I have a sister who goes to international markets and brings me home mystery drinks. Go ahead – be jealous. Now we can get on to business.
What the heck is Vimto? That was my question when I was holding a cold can of it last week. The writing on the can didn’t help – the name was in English, but the description seemed to be in French (“a bubbly, fruit-flavored beverage”) and there was also some sort of Arabic symbol (translation: no idea).
Undeterred by my ignorance, I took a sip. It was…interesting. It tasted like the color maroon, like a mix of sickly sweet berries you might find on a bush in a lonesome desert oasis. It wasn’t quite cough medicine, but it wasn’t far off, either.
A quick google told me that Vimto originated in the U.K. The berry flavor comes from grapes, raspberries and blackcurrants. The drink has had some interesting advertising history: check out this commercial. Maybe it’s a British joke, because I don’t understand a thing.
Vimto is popular in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, and apparently it’s drunk a lot during Ramadan. So that explains the Arabic on the can. This particular Vimto can was made with “Sparkling Canadian Water,” so I’m guessing that’s why there’s French as well.
I can’t say I was too enthused by Vimto. I think part of this is because I love sugar. Vimto is sugar-free and makes up for it with a cocktail of “intense sweeteners.” I’m also not used to blackcurrant, and grape flavoring is not my favorite!
In the end, I’m glad to have drunk Vimto. It was an experience. It’s not quite Coke, but if I was dying of thirst and it was the only drink available, I’d “shlurple the purple!”