We Taste Test Australia’s Best Cough Syrups

By Simone Bennett
28th May 2018


Being sick isn’t fun. But it can be more enjoyable with a shot glass of cough syrup. Cough syrup has a boldness and depth of flavour which is underappreciated. The taste can vary depending on region, botanicals and general mood of the artisan distiller who made it.

There are two types of cough – chesty and dry. Chesty is the one that feels like you’re breathing through a wet snorkel. But at least you get that sense of accomplishment and progress when you spit out something heinous. Dry coughs are more frustrating. It’s like you’ve inhaled a bunch of tiny feathers. You want to scratch the back of your throat, but you can’t reach. So you just sort of go ‘Haaaccck. Nggghhh. Haaaccck...’ and try to vibrate the area with your voice. 

So here you go, guys. The best and worst garglers on the market. Get well soon! xx

Benadryl | Dry Tickly Cough Forte

Remember that one time you were at Spy Lounge in the city dancing to that song that goes ‘Errrrbody in da club gettin tipsy’ and your friend Amy handed you a shot, shouting ‘IT’S PEACH SCHNAPPS!’ and after downing the shot, some guy wearing Ed Hardy started grinding on you and then you threw up in your mouth? This tastes like that.

Taste rating: 2/10
Good for: Dry coughs and reliving memories from 2004
Free measuring cup? Yes

Bisolvon | Pholcodine Dry Forte

This cough syrup contains a type of Codeine, which means it can be mixed with Sprite to make Purple Drank – a beverage enjoyed by rappers with face tattoos and names like ‘Lil Pump’, ‘Lil Xan’ and ‘Lil Yachty’. Purple Drank is problematic, because adding lemonade really does a disservice to the complex and subtle flavours of Bisolvon. I drink mine out of a crystal whisky glass, served neat.

Taste rating: 5/10
Good for: Dry coughs and gettin’ high AF if you’re in the mumble rap game
Free measuring cup? Yes

Robitussin | Dry Cough Plus

Robitussin has an active ingredient in it called Dextromethorphan, which can cause hallucinations when taken in very high doses. I only took a few sips of this peppermint syrup, but afterwards I rewatched the Laurel vs Yanny video and I FINALLY HEARD YANNY. What the fuuuuuu. 

Taste rating: 6/10
Good for: Dry coughs and hearing ‘Yanny’
Free measuring cup? Yes

Duro-Tuss | Children’s Cough Liquid

You know what they say, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Duro-Tuss has taken Mary Poppins’ advice and run with it, adding not just a spoonful, but a dump truck full of sugar. Any medicinal taste (and benefit) has been completely eradicated – a huge win for science and for mankind. I’ll be honest, if I just needed a sugar hit and was feeling too lazy to walk to Coles, I’d probably take a cheeky swig of this.

Taste rating: 8/10
Good for: Chesty coughs and getting your sister’s kids buzzed
Free measuring cup? Yes

Thompson’s | Manuka Mucus Cough Relief

This is the luxury Range Rover of cough syrups. If Maggie Beer ever got a mucus infection, she would drink this. It’s sweet, but not overpowering, with distinct notes of Manuka honey. Why not add a splash of soda and a twist of lemon zest for a refreshing pick-me-up? Or, if you’re feeling daring, pour it over two scoops of burnt fig and honeycomb ice cream. Thompson's—For the discerning patient.

Taste rating: 10/10
Good for: Chesty coughs, affogatos and feelin’ fancy
Free measuring cup? No

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