By Ellie Philpotts
You might wonder how far the marketing abilities of a soft drink from as long ago as 1895 could possibly reach. In a time where alcohol is such big business, and in a student publication no less, a product bearing these credentials could seem difficult to stand out. But Lurvill’s Delight is busy squashing every misconception you ever had – and, dare we say it, they’re actually making soft drinks kinda cool. Actually, we do dare to say it. We might even hold our carbonated classics up for the world, or readership of Quench Food, to see.
Cast your minds back (well, imagine, as even PhDs don’t take this long) to the late 19th Century. The food and drink industry was hardly as lucrative as it is now, but that didn’t deter twin brothers Harold and Lolo Lewis. The residents of the Rhondda Cynon Taff village of Ynyshir took the plunge in founding Lurvill’s Delight, a drink comprised of the very natural trio of stinging nettles, dock leaves and Juniper berry extract. No nasty E-Numbers, meaning the tabloids’ Health sections would have had one less thing to sensationalise. The project enjoyed a good few years of being a hit, soon rising from its humble origins in the middle of the countryside to navigating its way around Wales – no mean feat in a period of no online communication let alone marketing strategy. Customers of the day seemed to like the fact that profits went towards helping 150 coal miners and their families swap the Rhondda for the dizzying American heights of Pittsburgh and Denver – a pretty big move now, let alone at the turn of the past century, and regardless of these moral benefits, consumers were fans of the taste and general style. Well, that’s the vibe we’re getting anyway, since the only reason it eventually ceased wasn’t because of a decline in sales – it was because of a decline in dock leaves in the local area. Although its increase in popularity extended the village itself, Harold and Lolo still wanted to preserve its roots – literally – so were forced to stop production in 1910. But – plot twist – all ends well, because, although perhaps slightly belatedly, 2016 has marked them as officially back in town! And as their Launch Party tonight demonstrated, it’s definitely a case of better late than never. It’s fair to say times have moved on substantially in the subsequent century and then some, but the new faces in charge of Lurvill’s Delight have managed to find the winning formula, retaining the trademark botanical origins with a new and updated twist.
Those of an indecisive mentality may have their work cut out, with options including Original, Meadowsweet, and Lavender Spice, but rest assured whichever you go for is bound to be a satisfying choice. And while there may have been a bit of a gap in the market for this type of soft drink, the cocktails connoisseurs among our readership need not fear – Lurvill’s can easily spruce up any beverage. On edible display at the launch were the John Jones, primarily Lurvill’s alongside American whiskey; Lurvill’s Negroni Spritz, aka Brecon Gin (we love supporting local produce, so this one was a winner!), Campari and a dash of orange bitter over ice, topped with Lurvill’s as the name implies and a snazzy grapefruit garnish, and, last but not least, Botanical Mist, also comprised of American whiskey, but blended with Drambuie Stir and of course accompanied by the focal point of Lurvill’s.
And in today’s climate, where super-foods and health trends are rarely out of either social media or supermarket aisles, it could be easy to become disillusioned – but we’re willing to take that gamble when another intriguing new addition gets thrown into the mix. You won’t often spot nettles among your avocados and kale, but perhaps Lurvill’s Delight could turn this on its head, since it’s promoting its traditional ingredient of nettles as boasting an impressive 40% protein not to mention an abundance of Vitamin A, antioxidants and iron. Other Mother Nature specials finding their way into Lurvill’s products include Juniper (antibacterial, antiviral AND antiseptic don’t you know); Yellow Dock Root (a less fashionable cousin of rhubarb and sorrel); and Rhubarb, which is good on its own accord away from the crumble constraints – think bursting with calcium, dietary fibre and Vitamins B and K.
So next time the very very delayed Freshers Flu; ASSL-induced headache; or our old foe the hangover rears its ugly head, there’s no point feeling guilty in heading for a drink…
Can confirm the drinks on sample passed the taste test (same applies for the canapés, but that’s another story. Although probably one that wouldn’t amass many views, because there’s only so much you can say about canapés, and they didn’t even begin in 1895).
Many thanks to 10 Feet Tall for providing such a great venue for Lurvill’s Delight relaunch evening, and Degu Media for their influence around Cardiff’s food and drink scene! And, at risk of channelling Gwyneth Paltrow’s Oscars speech, to Wright’s Food Emporium who interviewed my take on the evening for their radio show – I haven’t just repeated what I said there, I promise!!