Dandelion and burdock

Dandelion and burdock
Type Carbonated soft drink
Manufacturer Various
Country of origin United Kingdom
Colour Caramel
Related products Root beer, sarsaparilla

Dandelion and burdock is a beverage consumed in the British Isles since the Middle Ages. It was originally a type of light mead, but over the years has evolved into the carbonated soft drink commercially available today.[1] Traditionally it was made from fermented dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and burdock (Arctium lappa) roots, hence the name. It is believed that both plants are beneficial to healthy liver function.

A flowering dandelion, and a burdock plant


Dandelion and burdock shares a historical origin with a number of drinks originally made from lightly fermented root extracts, such as root beer and sarsaparilla, supposedly as a health benefit. One story regarding its origin is that in the 13th Century St. Thomas Aquinas, after a hard night's praying, stumbled out in the dawn and, "trusting in God to Provide" brewed a concoction from the first two plants he encountered.[2][3]

The dominant flavour in these other drinks is usually sassafras or wintergreen, both now derived artificially rather than from the plant itself, in part because during the 1960s safrole, the major component of the volatile oil of sassafras, was found to be carcinogenic in rats when administered in relatively large doses. All of these drinks, while tasting similar, do have their own distinct flavour. Dandelion and burdock is most similar in flavour to sarsaparilla. The drink has recently seen an increase in popularity after previously poor sales.[4]

Imitations and variants

The "dandelion and burdock" drink for sale in many retail outlets rarely contains either plant. The retail drink is often carbonated, containing artificial sweeteners and flavourings. Some supermarkets sell the drink with "real plant extracts" with a more faithful flavour than the ones made with artificial flavourings

Fentimans, a beverage company based in the United Kingdom, offers a version of the naturally brewed dandelion and burdock drink, containing extracts of both plants[5] (although its main ingredients are sugar and pear juice concentrate).

A.G. Barr, famous for Scottish soft drink Irn-Bru, produce a version of dandelion and burdock under the name D'n'B and the slogan "Tall, dark and drinksome".

The last of the UK's original temperance bars, Fitzpatrick's in Rawtenstall, which opened in 1890, still produces its dandelion and burdock to an original recipe brought over from Ireland at the end of the 19th century.[6]

In culture

Mentioned in the title track for Suck It and See (2011) by Sheffield indie rock band Arctic Monkeys.[7]

See also


  1. Lewis-Stempel (2010), p. 153.
  2. "Classic British drinks". Telegraph. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  3. "How to make dandelion and burdock beer". the Guardian. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  4. Milliken, Chris (2007). British Soft Drinks Since 1960. University of Cambridge.
  5. "Our botanically brewed beverages". Fentimans. Archived from the original on 27 July 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  6. Rawtenstall raises the bar, bbc.co.uk, 1 October 2008, retrieved 10 June 2012
  7. ""Suck It and See" lyrics". Genius.com.


  • Lewis-Stempel, John (2010), The Wild Life, Black Swan, ISBN 978-0-5527-7460-4 
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