Overthrowing the well celebrated Kuluki Sarbath, a new fizzy drink has captured the attention of Kerala this summer. Fuljar Soda, or Ful-jar? No one knows the exact name or what it actually means, but the cool new drink seems to have originated in the northern Malabar region of the state as temperatures soared to new highs this year.
Making its grand entry to the Iftar parties, the not-just-a-boring-soda has captured the hearts of “Mallus”, more for the theatre that comes with it than the taste of the drink itself. The theatre is the fact that the drink is served in two glasses, the large tumbler contains chilled soda which has lemon and sugar syrup and the other shot glass contains a concoction of neem, ginger paste and mint leaves, creating a myriad of flavour experience for its customers. The drink comes into action when the shot glass is dropped into the glass tumbler, making the soda erupt like a volcano. It is gulped down, bottoms up as it froths.
“Although it’s difficult to gulp it all down in one go, in order to get the “authentic” Fuljar experience, the drink should be gulped and not sipped,” says Nayana, a college student who was recently introduced to the Fuljar madness.
The method of having the drink has caught more attention than the beverage itself. Due to its popularity, various other regional variations like orange, grape, strawberry, pineapple and watermelon are also in demand.
“The spicy-tangy taste of the drink is a big hit among customers, especially in the scorching heat,” adds Nayana. “Because of the heat, people are willing to try anything which is cool and fizzy, but of course Fuljar has the thrill of the spill.”
From YouTube to Tik-Tok, the frothy fad has found itself a place across social media, flooding it with pictures and videos of youngsters gulping down the summer drink. Though the drink is yet to reach all corners of the state, the trick is being gradually learned in almost all cool bar kiosks.
But then monsoon is going to play spoilsport. “The demand is high, but it is soon going to die down, just like any other trend in Kerala,” says Hainz Martin, owner of a makeshift roadside cool bar in Palarivattom, Kochi. “Sales have already started dropping as the Nipah scare resurfaced. Monsoon will be a huge factor too,” he adds. In addition to this, various medical practitioners have come up to warn of the bad effects of the drink.
Recently, the tangy beverage was under the radar of the Food Safety Department too after complaints regarding the quality of the drink. It was when various photographs and videos of unhygienic Fuljar drinks surfaced on social media that the officials seized various products used in making the beverage, in and around Kozhikode.
However, all this does not seem to deter young food buffs and Instagrammers. The trendy beverage, which has gathered popularity in Kochi and Kannur, is now finding favour across the state and slowly spilling over to other locations too.
Martin, who personally prefers Kulukki Sarbath says that Fuljar is all about its theatrics and is convinced people will soon come back to Kuluki.