Bitter Lemon once used to be more popular— never that popular mind you, but enough that you could find a plastic liter bottle of it on a store shelf with little effort.
Now, the Bitter Lemon Category is at its nadir stateside. Those who like the soda often rely on European imports like Schweppes. Though for those stateside, the Canada Dry Company makes their Canada Dry Bitter Lemon. Once a regional brand, Canada Dry is part of the Dr. Pepper and Snapple alliance. Their ginger ale is found everywhere. If you’re lucky, Canada Dry’s Bitter Lemon may be the only bitter lemon you see on your traditional soda aisle.
Canada Dry Bitter Lemon is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and concentrated lemon juice (3%!). Natural flavors and quinine are added afterwards. It’s about 110 calories per 8 oz. portion. The bottle is green— combined with the yellow label, Canada Dry Bitter Lemon reminds me of Mountain Dew on the shelf.
The nose is sweet lemon-lime soda with a hint of Squirt soda. It has that hint of grapefruit flavor as well.
Poured, it doesn’t quite froth into a head. A flurry of bubbles immediately burst, while rather large bubbles adhere generally to the bottom of the glass with a slight amount on the sides.
On the palate, it has a bit of fizz on the tip of the tongue. The mid-palate has some echoes of grapefruit soda and lemon soda. Canada Dry Bitter Lemon has a Squirt like note which ends with a very subtle bitterness.
This Bitter Lemon is light on the bitter and even less pronounced in the lemon than expected.
While, Canada Dry Bitter Lemon hits the bare minimum requirements for being a bitter lemon, I think fans of the category will be disappointed by the sedate bitterness. It needs more.
With gin, it’s an acceptable mixer. It’s sweet with citrus flavor and a modicum of bitterness. Use a stronger gin to get a bit more through the soda like din, but If it’s all you can find, Canada Dry Bitter Lemon will get the job done.