How soft drink was introduced to the world?


In this short article you will find how the world came to know about a soft drink. It started with sherbet. It was a well-known drink throughout the Muslim world. Today, this sherbet is known with different names in different countries and cultures that vary from India to America.

The combination of juices extracted from herbs and flowers when added with water, sugar and vinegar forms a sweet liquid named as “Sherbet’. It become one of the most popular drinks in Muslim world as Alcohol is considered “Haram” in Islam. Later on, the word sherbet was used in different countries and languages as a compliment.

Many drinkers were inspired by taste and fragrance of Sherbet. In 1626 France Bacon tasted sherbet and was very inspired by its delicious taste. When famous English poet Lord Byron tasted sherbet, he wrote in 1813,

“Give me a sun, I care not how cool, and my Heaven is as easily made as your Persian’s.


In Egyptian Arabic, word “Sharbaataat” is used for cute and sweet children. In earlier 20th century, due to lack of refrigerators and preservation of fresh fruits sherbat became very famous.

Sherbet is derived from Arabic word “Shariba” means “to drink” It has many derivations in different languages. A Mashrabiyyah, is characteristic of architecture of Islamic world. It is a platform where jars could be cooled by evaporation and stored.

Various uses

Sherbet was used by Ottoman Turks before and during each meal. Sherbet and traditional Ottoman food was served in Haci Abdullah restaurant in Istanbul. Karisik Komposto a famous sherbet which was used by customers before meal. It was made from syrup of quince, pear, apple, apricot and peach mixed with frozen water.

Restaurants like Daruzziyafe (“guesthouse”) and Konyali at the Topkapi palace still serve Ottoman style sherbets. Two kinds of sherbets were served by Daruzziyafe: herb sherbet made from roses, carob and palmyra palm roots or leaves.

It is still true today in villages of Eastern Turkey, the groom’s family offers rose sherbet or Gul sherbeti in a copper ewer or long- spouted brass, called an ibrik. It is understood groom’s suit is accepted by woman when she drinks the sherbet. In India and Afghanistan as well groom’s family presents gifts to bride’s family and in return they offers Gul sherbet.

A colored Sherbet is offered on different occasions such as child birth, logossorbet is served in special occasions.

Replacing water

Various kinds of sweet drinks and sherbets are produced in Egypt but sugar and water was commonly used; another kind of sherbet is lemonade which is formed from boiling violet-flowers with sugar. Variety in sherbet was introduced like drink from Mulberries, sorrel, strong infusion of liquorices-root, and from fruits of locust tree.

During Ramadan, a super-tray was used to be placed in front of persons in houses of different classes. Visitors were received few minutes before sunset by master of the house. Sherbet of sugar and water was served to them.

Popular in Iran too

M.R. Ghanoonparvar reveals that sherbet in Iran is usually used in summer and in parties in special glasses.

In Iran, other than fruits, aromatic flowers are also used in sherbet. Flowers like araq, baharnaremj, bidmeshk and kasniare produced and exported from Shiraz to other parts of Iran.

Thirteen day also known as Natural day is a festival in Iran in which people spend time in drinking, eating and picnicking out. They used to drink seven things starting with letter sheen (‘she’) and seen (‘s’), containing vinegar, sugar and fresh mint called sekanjebin.

Journey to the West

Shrub was a popular drink in America and Europe, made from fruits like currants or raspberries mixed with vinegar and sugar and sometime alcohol was added. Shrub without alcohol is sold at small stores and colonial-style restaurants.

At the end of 19th century a carbonated drink “Coca- Cola” become the craze of Americans. This first circulates across the countries through pharmacies and drugstores. Later on it starts spreading abroad in china and Philippines in 1927, Malaysia in 1936, Singapore in 1934, Morocco and Tunisia in 1947, Srilanka in 1960 and Pakistan in 1953.

Western and eastern soft drinks took position for a while in sherbet shops and among streets in Middle East. Later on Coca-Cola and Pepsi become dominant, and were served with western fast food as well traditional dishes. The need for pure sherbet made from herbs, flowers and fruits has been outdated.

Erasing borders and building brotherhood

Sherbet holds on a great position, even in politics. Indian Newspaper, Indian Express reported in 1998, in the ongoing dispute between Pakistan and India over Kashmir that “People forgot the accumulated bitterness of 50 years and three wars “a ceremony was held over division of border based on sherbet.

Syrups of sherbet are still available in market, we can make it at home and enjoy.


(Written by Sadaf Riaz, freelance journalist)

Enjoy Ali Huda! Exclusive for your kids.