I’m always excited to try something new, and this soda from Cock’n Bull had an ingredient that I had no experience with. Would you believe that I’ve gone 33 years without tasting a lemon? I hope not. I’m talking about quinine. It’s the key ingredient in tonic water and a common treatment for malaria. Sounds like a party.

I talked about Cock’n Bull’s history with ginger beer in a previous post (click here). In addition to their great ginger beer, they also make some bitter sodas. For this review I tried the Bitter Lemon with Quinine but I’ll get around to reviewing the whole brand.


I apologize for the less than ideal photography of this soda, but I was slightly rushed and had to take them without my regular equipment. That didn’t change the flavor, though. True to the name, this really is a bitter soda. I tasted a strong lemon zest flavor moderately balanced with cane sugar. It’s not a dry soda, but the bitter lemon is dominant enough that it doesn’t taste very sweet. It reminds me a little bit of the New Zealand L&P soda I reviewed a while back, but the bitters flavor in L&P wasn’t as bold as the Cock’n Bull.

The quinine flavor kicks in as a secondary profile. The taste is a little hard to describe, but it had a sort of bitter mineral presence that lingered in the back of my throat. Reminded me a little of the taste of tylenol when it gets stuck on the way down. Did you know that different people experience the flavor of quinine in different ways? Apparently it’s a genetic thing. For some it’s very bitter, for others it’s not. There was a big research study about it, check it out.


I gave this a 6.8 out of 10 on my rating scale. I thought it was fine, but given the medicinal bitterness of the quinine I probably wouldn’t go back to it. With a squeeze of fresh lemon I might enjoy it more, but I think that most people would enjoy this more as part of a mixed drink rather than a stand-alone beverage. Your results may vary.

Sampled on 1/18/2017, purchased at Cost Plus World Market

This was bottled by the folks at Orca Beverage. For reviews of their other sodas, click here.

For reviews of other Cock’n Bull beverages, click here.

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