BOSTON Magaazine – Vocab Lesson: Irn-Bru, Scotland’s Favorite Soda

FERNET BRU at The Haven. As featured in May 2013 BOSTON Magazine.

Fernet BRU
Fernet BRU

With the exception of the Middle East (which adores Pepsi) and North Korea/Cuba (trade embargoed!), there’s only one country in the world where a local soda rivals the sales of Coca-Cola: Scotland. There, in the land of whiskey, the Scots instead mainline Irn-Bru, a U.K.-produced, neon-orange soda that’s treated like morning rocket fuel for its hangover-curing effects (it’s loaded with caffeine) and unique flavor—vaguely like orange soda blended with bubblegum.

While you can find the cult favorite at local Euro-centric grocers like Cardullo’s, in Harvard Square, for the most part the bubbly elixir remains, like haggis, a uniquely Scottish obsession that hasn’t quite caught on stateside. To learn why it should, head to the Haven in Jamaica Plain, where owner Jason Waddleton laces the Day-Glo beverage with the bitter Italian digestif Fernet Branca. The result? A bracing, medicinal cordial known as the Fernet Bru.“With Irn-Bru, national identity comes into it,” Waddleton says. “Anybody who lives in Scotland aligns themselves with it. It’s like a badge of honor.”

Vocab Lesson: Irn-Bru, Scotland’s Favorite Soda.