A Soda to Ring In the Lunar New Year

Get ready for Lunar New Year.

Long-life noodles.


A whole fish.


Red envelopes filled with lucky money.


If you’re celebrating Lunar New Year in San Francisco, though, don’t forget to include a bottle of Belfast Sparkling Cider in your Year of the Ox festivities starting Jan. 26.

The non-alcoholic soda, with Irish origins, is the oldest-continually bottled soda made in California. And inexplicably, it’s the city’s Chinese-American community that has kept this brand alive for generations.

You’ll find the golden-colored, delicate flavored soda on lazy Susans at Chinese restaurant banquets for New Year’s, weddings, births, and other important celebrations.

You can read more about this iconic soda in my story in the January issue of San Francisco Magazine.ย Pick up a copy at your favorite newsstand.

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  • Belfast Sparkling Cider taste watered down to me, I prefer Martinelli’s.

  • Actually, I don’t drink sodas much at all now. But when I do, I usually find them too sweet, so I cut mine with water. When I was a kid, though, it was always a treat to have Belfast. It was the first thing you saw on the table when you sat down to a Chinese banquet meal — that, and a soup tureen of ice cubes to go in your glass.

  • Jenny Hattori Noll

    I have actually never heard of Belfast before, but we always had Martinelli’s on the table for any get together in Sac with our extended family of 40+ people. I had always thought it was just because my Gong-Gong didn’t want us having soda, but now I know that there was a reason for it – thanks! Now I’ll have to be on the lookout for Belfast so I can try it.

    Am especially excited about this year as we have finally come to the year of my animal – yay!

  • too funny. we got lai tse (? red envelope) along with oranges and lemons today. gold and gold, and gold. right?

    if only i could measure wealth in citrus!

    ah but these lemon cookies are quite yummy consolation.

  • Hey, I thought only the “kids” get lai tse? You mean grown-ups still get the lucky red envelopes, too? Man, I’m obviously missing out.

  • It’s supposed to be the unmarried ones that get red packets. So theoretically you could be an “old maid” and still get red packets.

    What are you going to be doing for CNY?

  • Hmmm, I know Jacqueline is married. Maybe her family is just very generous with the red envelopes. heehee

    Well, my oldest brother is supposed to host a Lunar New Year gathering, though, we’ve yet to hear any finalized plans. Yo, bro, if you’re reading, start planning. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Nate, what are you and Annie going to do to celebrate?

  • We were thinking of doing a special dinner and having you and a few other foodies over. Interested?

  • Oh my gawd, Annie. I’d be honored!

  • I remember the apple cider!! It was always a favorite of my grandfather’s and of all of the kids…the real adults drank beer in my family. ๐Ÿ™‚ We should do a SF CNY celebration!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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