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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray

Note: the name doesn't make it perfectly clear, so let me do so: this is a "celery soda with other natural flavors". I believe that qualifies for Weird Soda status.

I have found that BevMo has an interesting, if not truly unusual, selection of sodas. Many of the major independent brands can be found there, and occasionally something more exotic. Dr. Brown's is a pretty common item where weird sodas are sold, but I personally had never heard of celery flavored soda before (much to learn I have). So let's pop it open.

Where and when: purchased 3/4/09 at BevMo, Oceanside, CA
Scent: slight anise, sweet, with a tangy note which seems to be getting stronger as I smell it.
Color: pale gold, very much like ginger ale.
Taste: Sweet, mildly tart, and it does taste a bit like celery.
Comment from the Lead Assistant WSR Taster: "It's kind of good and kind of bad. I told you it would taste like this!"
Not long ago, I decided I would try to make my own fruit syrup for an Italian soda. I took some kiwis, skinned them, mashed them up, and boiled them with sugar water (all according to a recipe I found). I discovered two things:
1. Boiling kiwis smell almost exactly like artichoke, which is not a good thing.
2. The resultant syrup tastes a lot like artichoke, which is also bad
3. The gelatinous green ex-kiwi goop left in the saucepan afterwards tastes mostly like kiwi, a little like artichoke, and makes an absolutely splendid spread for toast.

This tastes rather a lot like the kiwi goop left in the pan.

Quaff rating: 2.5. It's nice in a way, and could be pretty refreshing. Unusual.
Cough rating: 3. The sweet is pretty syrupy, and the vegetable taste could be weird.

BONUS NOTE: The afterburp flavor is a bit stronger on the artichokiness.


  1. I can't say i thought this soda had a negative weirdness. Though i can agree with the atichokiness, i wasn't turned off by it. I found this soda to be a pretty awesome refreshing deli soda( maby because I had it with a pastrami and rye sandwich on a hot day) But I found the slightly sweet savory vegtable tast really unique. And I give Dr.Brown credit for stepping into that teritiory.- Dr.Ringwaldo "Soda lover/maker"

  2. Probably one of the bet sodas in the world!
    Obviously, you're not Jewish.

  3. No Ma'am, not Jewish. And I've heard others express similar sentiments about Cel-Ray. Maybe it's an acquired taste.

  4. I've been reading your blog for a couple of weeks now, great stuff!

    I just tried this one for the first time today...I must say it was a very surprising taste! It smelled a bit like Campbell's vegetable soup, and the taste was unexpectedly refreshing! The celery taste faded a bit as I slowly drank the rest, but I will definitely be grabbing one of these again! A nice surprise indeed!

  5. The best drink to have with a deli sandwich (even better than beer)-not meant to be drunk solo. I can't get it where I live, so I have to make my own (crazy? maybe...) using Alton Brown's recipe that uses crushed celery seed--a good imitation of the real thing. Best of all, it qualifies as a vegetable dish as far as the four food groups are concerned (or as far as I'm concerned).

  6. I'll have to try this with the pastrami and rye--I could see how this might compliment something else but agree it's insubstantial on its own. A unique twist for sure.

  7. This started out as a review of Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Tonic, but some how you drifted off, inexplicably, I might add, into kiwi goop and artichokes. So what's up with that? the little celery seeds cross the blood/brain barrier and allowed your neurotransmitters to freeze up somewhere near Tajikistan?

    Just for the record, let it be known from here to eternity that Dr. Brown's Cel-Tay Tawnik is a precursor to the Salk Vaccine.

    Please direct all further comments to the rulers of the world.

  8. Years ago a health food store in Berkley Ca. had a syrup for sale called Murry's Celery Phosphate and it included anise I would make my own cel-ray. There was an old adage "give a virgin celery soup" it was thought to have a mild calming effect. My ex used to cut table mushrooms and eat about half of them for there pleasant attitude lift. Years ago before Jones Bros went corporate they had a energy drink called "Whoop Ass" and the motto was "restores your faith in mankind" You would knock down the six ounce can and feel nineteen for about an hour without the after jitters. By the way Murry's went out of business in the mid eighties. I love your writing you remind me of Tibor Fisher especially his book the "Thought Gang"

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