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Old 11th October 2010, 05:55 PM   #1
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Why do Europeans drink everything at room temp?

This is, of course, in response to the "Why do Americans drink beer cold?" thread, but its actually something I have wondered for some time.

I don't drink beer, but, if I did, would probably want it as cold as possible without it freezing. To me, liquids at room temperature usually have a horrid aftertaste, including - no, especially - water.

So I was upset when I visited the UK as a teenager to find that they seemed to put ice in NOTHING. Water, Coke, EVERYTHING seemed to be served at room temperature - bleah!

This seemed to be true in Netherlands, France, Belgium and England when I visited those countries in 1999 as well. When I asked for ice in my Coke/Pepsi, I was looked at as though I had asked for dog turds in them. I can understand the thought some have that ice, once melted, only serves to water a beverage down, but, to me, the unpleasant aftertaste of room temp bevarages more than counteracts that. I'll take a cold, watered-down but nice tasting drink over a tepid, stronger one with a horrid aftertaste any day, thanks.

In Netherlands, this aversion to/dislike of cold drinks seemed to be even stronger. The place I worked there had a vending machine that dispensed room-temperature cans of soda. my co-workers (locals) all said that they did not use ice trays at home. I had brought a cooler for drnks, and took it to several stores in town to buy ice for it, but none sold ice!

Did Americans get used to ice in their drinks back when owning a freezer at home was a sign of "conspicuous consumption" and have never gotten over it?
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Old 11th October 2010, 06:13 PM   #2
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This should be a poll. People think it's slightly off that I prefer things at room temperature. My grandmother's the same way, but she has sensitive teeth (and she's senile).

Sigh... another reason I should live in Europe.
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Old 11th October 2010, 06:15 PM   #3
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At the risk of being contentious, I think it is because we like the taste of what we drink. I put ice in drinks I am not keen on: kills the flavour and i think that is what it is for.

I make an exception for some things: for example I drink yellow beer cold but brown beer at cellar temperature: I drink clear spirits cold (gin and vodka, for example) but I drink brown spirits at room temperature. Again: I don't much like the taste of gin and vodka but I do like the taste of whisky and brandy
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Old 11th October 2010, 06:25 PM   #4
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Warm sodas are nasty. Pack those suckers with nice, cold cubes of ice.
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Old 11th October 2010, 06:29 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Cain View Post
This should be a poll. People think it's slightly off that I prefer things at room temperature. My grandmother's the same way, but she has sensitive teeth (and she's senile).
I prefer my water at room temp as well. Or chilled slightly, but NO ICE. I get strange stares for that one.

On another note, what the heck is up with carbonated water? I've never been able to understand that one.
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Old 11th October 2010, 06:31 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Fiona View Post
At the risk of being contentious, I think it is because we like the taste of what we drink.
I think that is pretty wrong. Most people I know like ice in their soda, water, tea, etc. I know for a fact they like the taste of all of those things. They just like it more cold and in ice. FSM knows why.
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Old 11th October 2010, 06:31 PM   #7
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If you are going to pay for water it has to have something you can use to convince yourself it is value for money: that is what the bubbles are: added value

ETA: chilling kills the flavour. That is why I say they must not like the taste: which fits with the OP, actually

Last edited by Fiona; 11th October 2010 at 06:33 PM.
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Old 11th October 2010, 07:13 PM   #8
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Chilling a beverage below about the mid-40-degrees (F) numbs the taste buds. Thus, most American-made beverages taste best when I can't taste them at all! Sody-pop is the worst culprit -- the reason it tastes so nasty is that it's mostly sugar. May as well chug a bottle of corn syrup. Chilling it to kill the taste of the sugar means that the manufacturers have to go overboard on the flavorings. Let sody-pop warm to room temp without losing its carbonation, and won't taste good at all.

Speaking of sody-pop, American beer is pasturized, to death! I understand wanting to stop the fermentation and kill any bacteria, but all that's left is pale yeast broth with about 5% alcohol. Euro beer, on the other hand, is more like a hearty soup that is best when served at room temperature. Harp's Stout is infinitely more satisfying than anything that comes out of Milwaukee, WI or Golden, CO.

Of course, anything my son brews and bottles in his micro (a.k.a., my garage) is better than anything else.
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Old 11th October 2010, 07:38 PM   #9
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I've been drinking in pubs for 30 years in England and ice in drinks have never been a problem.
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Old 11th October 2010, 07:41 PM   #10
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All my time spend in the Netherlands and Germany and Spain, drinks were sold cold, just without ice. It's funny how they look at you when you ask if they have free refills.
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Old 11th October 2010, 08:00 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Fiona View Post
At the risk of being contentious, I think it is because we like the taste of what we drink. I put ice in drinks I am not keen on: kills the flavour and i think that is what it is for.
Odd. I don't think it "kills the flavor" at all. It makes the drink cold, and THAT is what it is for.

Quote:
I make an exception for some things: for example I drink yellow beer cold but brown beer at cellar temperature: I drink clear spirits cold (gin and vodka, for example) but I drink brown spiritI s at room temperature. Again: I don't much like the taste of gin and vodka but I do like the taste of whisky and brandy
I see. I can't think of a beverage I prefer at room temperature. The only ones I don't prefer cold are those I drink hot, such as hot chocolate.
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Old 11th October 2010, 08:15 PM   #12
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I have lived in Switzerland, and travelled to most European countries. Can't say I've ever been served a room temperature drink. All were straight from the fridge.
Just because it doesn't have ice doesn't mean it's at room temperature. Room temperature is 20C, not 4C.
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Old 11th October 2010, 08:30 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Fiona View Post
ETA: chilling kills the flavour. That is why I say they must not like the taste: which fits with the OP, actually
Which is why ice cream is completely flavorless.



Wait.....
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Old 11th October 2010, 08:31 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by patchbunny View Post
Warm sodas are nasty. Pack those suckers with nice, cold cubes of ice.
Agreed!
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Old 11th October 2010, 08:50 PM   #15
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I've lived in Europe all my life, and all this time I and the Europeans around me enjoy our beverages cold. Restaurants and cafes serve their beverage either straight from the fridge, or cold from a dispenser - often with ice.

I can only conclude that you've been to a different Europe than the one I live in..
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Old 11th October 2010, 09:00 PM   #16
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Robert, I honestly have no idea what you are talking about.

Every time I've been to Europe, they had ice. They absolutely served beer with ice. They served water with ice. They served soft drinks with ice.

They served everything in the exact same way that everyone else in the world does. In restaurants, bars, airports, airplanes, places of business, etc., certainly.

In someone's home, that might be another story because what they serve and how they serve it might depend upon their personal preferences.

Where you there in the winter? That might explain why they didn't feel it necessary to have ice.
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Old 11th October 2010, 10:18 PM   #17
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Here at the Texas border, we had tempertures over 100 F for every day from mid june to mid september. The beer has to be very cold. The only way I can imagine someone drinking non-cold beer is that it's done with the bottle in a brown paper bag. I see no other reasons to drink tepid beer besides snobbery or alcoholism.

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Old 11th October 2010, 10:38 PM   #18
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Things that are designed to be drunk cold, I drink cold. Things that are designed to be drunk at room temperature I drink at room temperature. It depends entirely on the beverage.

Most lagers I feel taste better cold. Dark ales and stouts should not be cold. Soft drinks (what you Yanks call "soda") is usually better cold. I like a couple of ice cubes in whiskey, but very good whiskey I prefer not to dilute. Vodka should be kept in the freezer, sake should be drunk hot.

When it's hot, cold drinks are usually better. There's absolutely nothing like a cold beer after a long day in the sun.
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Old 11th October 2010, 11:06 PM   #19
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because we have not yet invented the refrigerator.
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Old 11th October 2010, 11:33 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Ryokan View Post
I've lived in Europe all my life, and all this time I and the Europeans around me enjoy our beverages cold. Restaurants and cafes serve their beverage either straight from the fridge, or cold from a dispenser - often with ice.

I can only conclude that you've been to a different Europe than the one I live in..
I see.

In 1999 I was in

Paris, France

Venlo, Netherlands

Leicester, England

A City in Belgium I don't recall the name of (Manufacturer of Playing Cards)

I don't recall this being a problem in Leicester, but it was in the other cities mentioned.

In 1974 I was in multiple cities in England, Scotland, Ireland and a bit of Wales. Getting ice in drinks in restaurants and pubs was an issue many times during that trip.

Here is what happened at many places during the 1974 trip

Quote:
Me: ...and a Coke, please. With ice.

Waiter: Ice?

Me: Yes, Ice please. Lots of ice.

Waiter brings a glass of Coke. No ice. Room temperature.

Me: Excuse me, I would like some ice in this drink, please.

Waiter: Ice?

Me: Yes, Ice! Many cubes of ice!

Waiter takes the drink, returns later with glass of Coke with one tiny mostly melted ice cube in it.

Me: Excuse me, could this please have more ice in it?

Waiter: More ice?

Me: yes, please! Fill the glass with ice, then pour the Coke into it!
I swear, I am not exaggerating this. And it happened MANY times! Fancy restaurants, small pubs, everywhere!

And this trip was during the Summer!
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Old 11th October 2010, 11:37 PM   #21
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Quote:
Fill the glass with ice, then pour the Coke into it!
ooh, most Europeans would call foul on that. thats a scam. Nobody wants to buy a glass of ice with a bit cola in it.
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Old 11th October 2010, 11:37 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by RSLancastr View Post
Why do Europeans drink everything at room temp?
(So I was upset when I visited the UK as a teenager to find that they seemed to put ice in NOTHING.)
Simple answer - they don't.

Complicated answer - maybe things have changed since you were a teenager. How long ago was that?
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Old 11th October 2010, 11:39 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by EeneyMinnieMoe View Post
Robert, I honestly have no idea what you are talking about.

Every time I've been to Europe, they had ice. They absolutely served beer with ice. They served water with ice. They served soft drinks with ice.

They served everything in the exact same way that everyone else in the world does. In restaurants, bars, airports, airplanes, places of business, etc., certainly.

In someone's home, that might be another story because what they serve and how they serve it might depend upon their personal preferences.

Where you there in the winter? That might explain why they didn't feel it necessary to have ice.
The 1974 trip was during the Summer between my Junior and Senior year in high school.

The 1994 trip was, if I recall, in May and June. The temperatures were very mild.
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Old 11th October 2010, 11:44 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by DC View Post
ooh, most Europeans would call foul on that. thats a scam. Nobody wants to buy a glass of ice with a bit cola in it.
Yeah, if I want ice in my Coke (btw, I don't) then I want ice in my Coke, not Coke in my ice!

Dunno about anywhere else, but the Coke here is stored refrigerated, so it's quite cold enough when it comes out of the tap.
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Old 11th October 2010, 11:55 PM   #25
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Ice Not Common in Scandinavia.

I grew up in Scandinavia and there you do not get ice in your soft-drinks, but they are served cold. Today I believe that you get ice in your soft-drinks at McDonalds, Burger King and so on, so basically at all the American chains.
If you get a soft-drink from a post-mix, even in the US, it is chilled even without the ice.
Beers are always served chilled in any bar and most long drinks will have ice in them. You will never catch any true Scandinavian putting ice in his/her beer, as I have seen done in US.
The reason I get from most people at home on why they do not want ice in their soft-drink is that they don't like when the drink becomes diluted and they also feel the restaurants can cheat with the amount of soft-drink you get by putting ice in the glass. Remember no free re-fills in Scandinavia or the rest of Europe for that matter.
When it comes to whisky. I personally use cold stones to chill it and dilute it with soft water to the taste I like. Reason for not using ice here is that I can not control the amount of water in my whisky with ice.

Cheers everyone.
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Old 11th October 2010, 11:59 PM   #26
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And none of this was in people's homes. public restaurants! Fast-food places always seemed to have ice-dispensing machines, but the workers still had to be just about begged to dispense ice with them, though.

But here was an exchange I had with a worker when I used the drive-through lane in a McDonald's in the Netherlands:

Quote:
Me: And could those Cokes have some extra ice, please?

Worker (on speaker): Extra...ice?

Me: Yes, please. Lots and lots of ice!

Worker: well... okay!

(We drive through, and our drinks, miraculously, have lots of ice!)
My passenger (another American) and I are grateful - it is the first time we have had ice in our drinks in a week or so.

The next day at lunch, we drive through the same McDonald's, where the exchange goes something like this:

Quote:
Me: ...and could those Cokes have extra ice in them, please?

Worker (on speaker): Ah, the Americans!

(again, lots of ice in the drinks. they had our business the rest of our stay in Venlo, even though they were way out of our way.)
If this was all a plot to mess with our minds, it was a well-coordinated plot across multiple countries.
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Old 12th October 2010, 12:02 AM   #27
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Woah - wait. Did I read correctly that some people put ice in beer???

Ah, why?
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Old 12th October 2010, 12:05 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Things that are designed to be drunk cold, I drink cold. Things that are designed to be drunk at room temperature I drink at room temperature. It depends entirely on the beverage.
Hear, hear!

It's true that moderate chilling can dull some taste sensations but it leaves others partly-to-mostly unchanged...and what that does is change the flavor profile of what's being tasted. In other words, the temperature becomes a part of the flavor experience. Ice cream is an example taken to the extreme that not only modifies flavor but texture as well. Another example that's near and dear to my own palate is whisk(e)y.

For me, single malts are always without ice. On the other hand, how I take my bourbon depends on why I'm drinking it. If I'm conducting a tasting, I take it as I do my single malt: without ice and sometimes with just enough water to tame the alcohol and open up other flavors. If I'm drinking it casually, I'll take many bourbons over ice, especially if they're cask strength. If it's summer and I'm having a mint julep (I grow mint in the summer for just that purpose) tradition demands that there's only one way to enjoy it and that's ice cold to point of frost forming on the cup/glass. Sure, serving it warm would allow one to taste other flavors of the whiskey, mint, sugar, and water but it wouldn't be crisp and refreshing. But hey...knock yourself out.

I think Europeans get a bum rap for "drinking it warm". I lived in Germany for a few years and can't count the number of times I had Schnapps served by my German friends, straight from the freezer. Additionally, while it's not at all near ice cold, I'd hardly call cellar temperature warm.
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Old 12th October 2010, 12:12 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by tkmikkelsen View Post
I grew up in Scandinavia and there you do not get ice in your soft-drinks, but they are served cold.
To me, if there is not ice in it, it isn't cold. cool, maybe. Not cold.

Quote:
Today I believe that you get ice in your soft-drinks at McDonalds, Burger King and so on, so basically at all the American chains.
Yes, this is where I had the most luck, ice-wise.
Quote:
If you get a soft-drink from a post-mix, even in the US, it is chilled even without the ice.
What is a "post-mix"?
Quote:
Beers are always served chilled in any bar and most long drinks will have ice in them. You will never catch any true Scandinavian putting ice in his/her beer, as I have seen done in US.
Ah, the classic "No True Scandinavian" fallacy!

I don't drink beer, and am rarely ever in bars, but I don't think I have ever seen anyone put ice in a beer!
Quote:
The reason I get from most people at home on why they do not want ice in their soft-drink is that they don't like when the drink becomes diluted and they also feel the restaurants can cheat with the amount of soft-drink you get by putting ice in the glass. Remember no free re-fills in Scandinavia or the rest of Europe for that matter.
I see.

Quote:
When it comes to whisky. I personally use cold stones to chill it and dilute it with soft water to the taste I like. Reason for not using ice here is that I can not control the amount of water in my whisky with ice.

Cheers everyone.
Cheers!
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Old 12th October 2010, 12:12 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Yeah, if I want ice in my Coke (btw, I don't) then I want ice in my Coke, not Coke in my ice!

Dunno about anywhere else, but the Coke here is stored refrigerated, so it's quite cold enough when it comes out of the tap.
yep, after 5 minutes your coke tastes like water.
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Old 12th October 2010, 12:16 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by RSLancastr View Post
What is a "post-mix"?
"Soda fountain". Where the syrup is mixed with carbonated water right before it's poured.
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Old 12th October 2010, 12:25 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by tkmikkelsen View Post
You will never catch any true Scandinavian putting ice in his/her beer, as I have seen done in US.
Never seen that happen, ever.
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Old 12th October 2010, 12:26 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Giraffe107 View Post
I have lived in Switzerland, and travelled to most European countries. Can't say I've ever been served a room temperature drink. All were straight from the fridge.
Just because it doesn't have ice doesn't mean it's at room temperature. Room temperature is 20C, not 4C.
I have to agree with this, saving to note that a couple of ice cubes in a drink - be it a bar, restaurant, or cafe - are quite normal, and hence suggest that OP has limited experience of such things in Europe.

ETA:

Originally Posted by RSLancastr View Post
To me, if there is not ice in it, it isn't cold. cool, maybe. Not cold.
Ah, yes, I see: someone likes slush puppies coke with their ice.
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Last edited by Architect; 12th October 2010 at 12:31 AM.
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Old 12th October 2010, 12:33 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by RSLancastr View Post
Why do Europeans drink everything at room temp?

Lucas refrigerators.

That's the punchline of a joke about British cars and their notoriously crappy and unreliable electrical systems, based on components bearing the Lucas brand. I don't know that Lucas ever made refrigerators, but that's how the joke goes…
Why do the british drink warm beer?

Lucas refrigerators.
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Old 12th October 2010, 12:50 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
"Soda fountain". Where the syrup is mixed with carbonated water right before it's poured.
Gotcha, thanks! Never heard it called "post-mix" before.
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Old 12th October 2010, 12:55 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by RSLancastr View Post
Gotcha, thanks! Never heard it called "post-mix" before.
It's quite a common word for it down here. We don't have "soda" except as "soda water" which is just carbonated water. What you call "soda" we call "soft drink" so we've never had "soda fountains".
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Old 12th October 2010, 12:57 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
I have to agree with this, saving to note that a couple of ice cubes in a drink - be it a bar, restaurant, or cafe - are quite normal, and hence suggest that OP has limited experience of such things in Europe.
Admittedly. Two visits, totaling maybe two months, over a 25-year period. But both visits, over seven different countries, yielded similar experiences in this regard. The American co-worker who was with me for part of that Netherlands stay had lived several years in Paris in the 1980s, and assured me that the same was true there, then.



Quote:
Ah, yes, I see: someone likes slush puppies coke with their ice.
Not quite THAT bad, but that would be preferable to room-temperature Coke, yes.
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Old 12th October 2010, 12:59 AM   #38
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Rarely, if ever, been given "room temperature" coke in a cafe/bar/pub/restaurant.
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Old 12th October 2010, 01:08 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
It's quite a common word for it down here. We don't have "soda" except as "soda water" which is just carbonated water. What you call "soda" we call "soft drink" so we've never had "soda fountains".
It is mostly called "soft drinks" in California. Other parts of the country call it "Soda" and "Pop." Some parts, mostly in the South, simply (and confusingly) call it all "Coke." I first experienced this at a restaurant in Arkansas. I ordered a Coke with my meal. The waitress then asked "What kind of Coke?" Thinking she mean Diet or Regular, I said "regular." She said "No, do you want a Coca-Cola Coke or a Pepsi Coke or a Seven-Up Coke or a Root Beer Coke, or what?" I said "let's make it a Coca-Cola Coke, please." "Sure thang, hon!"

I wondered if the fine folks at Pepsi knew that their Cola was called "Pepsi Coke" down South.
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Old 12th October 2010, 01:12 AM   #40
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Must be a different Europe to the one I live in.
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