Why people drink Vimto at Ramadan?
- Vimto has become the drink of choice for those breaking their fast at Iftar
- The drink was originally invented in Manchester in 1908
- It was introduced to the Middle East by Saudi Arabian company Abdulla Aujan & Brothers
- The berry cordial has become an Iftar favourite due to its sweetness
Iftar is a time of reflection. It’s also a time to drink lots and lots of Vimto come Iftar.
But why is that? How has a drink – that was invented at the turn of the 20th century in Manchester – become such a big Ramadan tradition on the other side of the world? Why do so many people crave the cordial come the Holy Month? And what even is Vimto, anyway?
For those unawares, Vimto is a sugary berry-based drink; a mixture of grape, blackcurrant and raspberry along with some natural extracts of herbs, barley malt and spices. It was first created back in 1908 under the name, ‘Vimtonic’ where it became rather popular amongst the working man.
It was its popularity that led to it being picked up by the British army, who used to transport crates of Vimto to the likes of India and Sri Lanka (to give the troops a sugary taste of home).
After World War I the British took a larger interest in the Gulf – the area was important to the UK for its strategic defense of India – and began routinely sailing naval vessels around the region. It was then that an enterprising Saudi Arabian Company known as Abdulla Aujan & Brothers would first taste the sugary drink.
Smitten, in 1927 they negotiated the rights to introduce Vimto to the Gulf proper. And regular bottles of the berry cordial began to appear in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE (which to this day remain the three highest consumers of Vimto in the world outside of the UK).
While there’s no one factor that made Vimto a Ramadan staple, its sugar content is widely regarded as the reason why it has become a go-to Iftar beverage. It’s thought that those adhering to the Ramadan fast require a quick energy boost at sundown, which prompted its introduction to Iftar tables around the Gulf.