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Inspired by a Belfast success story: how the grandson of a Mid Ulster emigrant created the ‘champagne of ginger ales’

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An advert for Canada Dry

An advert for Canada Dry

Jack McLaughlin Credit: McLaughlin Library and Archives Canada

Jack McLaughlin Credit: McLaughlin Library and Archives Canada

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An advert for Canada Dry

At the tail end of the 19th century, bustling Belfast was at the very centre of the world’s soft drinks trade, shipping its sought-after bottles of fizz in vast quantities to far-flung corners of the globe. And the man chiefly responsible for the city’s outstanding success was Dublin-born chemist Thomas Cantrell, whose inspired creation of ginger ale was one of the foundations of a formidable drinks empire he ran from Castle Place with partner Henry Cochrane.

Cantrell had devised the recipe for ginger ale as a young employee in a Cornmarket chemist’s shop, and by the time he retired in 1883 he was joint head of what was said to be “the largest soft drink manufacturer in the world.”


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