Ever since I was little, I've always been fascinated by the idea of making my own soft drinks. I would always make concoctions of different squashes and drinks and essences, and some of them were vile. I remember once mixing some artificial peppermint essence and sugar into some water, expecting it to taste like drinking a Softmint, but it was genuinely disgusting.
As I got older, I researched the science of making soft drinks, and their beginnings. I remember doing an experiment in science class at junior certificate level where we distilled some Powerade, and got a jug of crystal clear water and a jug of sticky dark blue gunk, and it clicked in my mind that they're literally a flavoured syrup diluted with fizzy water. This was solidified in my mind when I realised that's how cola taps in fast food restaurants worked.
So over the years I've made a few things, but could never quite ascertain a formula, until I found a recipe for strawberry syrup for pancakes, that mixed equal parts simple syrup with blended strawberries and sieved out the pulp.
I'd never really had an excuse to try making my own soft drinks again, because I'm not a big soft drink consumer anyway. But when the June afternoon tea party came along, I deliberately made it summer themed so I could have an excuse to make some fizzy again.
For the event, I made two kinds. Firstly: a daintily pink raspberry lemonade!
I found these lovely bottles in the local 2 Euro shop; they have more style than substance though, as I discussed in my full tea party blog.
To make the pink lemonade, follow this recipe:
- 8 fluid ounces (240 millilitres) fresh lemon juice (about 4 large lemons)
- 8 ounces (225 grammes) caster sugar
- 2 ounces (55 grammes) good quality raspberry jam
- Warm water
- In a bowl, mix the jam with enough warm water to bring it up to 4 ounces (115 grammes). Mix until smooth and free of lumps.
- In a saucepan, heat together the sugar and lemon juice slowly, mixing all the time until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once dissolved, bring to the boil and cook for one minute.
- Add the jam mixture and mix thoroughly. Bring back to the boil, and once it boils remove from the heat.
- Pass through a sieve into a jug and allow to cool; discard the pulp left in the sieve. Allow to cool completely before storing in a glass container in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Dilute the cordial with still or sparkling water, at a ratio of one part cordial to three parts water. Serve with ice, and strips of lemon zest for garnish, if you like.
The other flavour that I made was orange cream soda, which is based entirely on my favourite flavour of a drink called Jones Soda.
Jones Soda is a Canadian soft drink that was the number one tipple of Goths and skaters in Limerick when I was a teenager, and became the symbol of the alternative scene in the late Noughties. It has since declined in popularity, but I still buy it when I see it for nostalgia's sake.
Cream soda is something I enjoy very infrequently, as it's incredibly sickly. I don't know when cream soda stopped having cream in it, but the version I've always drunk it just a sugary vanilla flavoured fizzy drink. I've often wondered when the cream in a cream soda stopped being a thing. However, mixing it with another flavour makes it a much fuller drink, in my opinion.
Here is how to make the orange cream soda.
- 8 fluid ounces (240 millilitres) fresh orange juice (about 4 large oranges)
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- 8 ounces (225 grammes) caster sugar
- Half a vanilla pod, or 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
- Juice of 1 lemon
- In a saucepan, add the orange juice, the sugar, the orange zest, and the lemon juice. If you are using a vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and add the seeds and the pod to the saucepan; if you are using vanilla essence, just add it straight into the mixture.
- Heat all the ingredients together slowly, mixing all the time until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once dissolved, bring to the boil and cook for one minute.
- Once cooked, cover the saucepan and allow to cool completely. This allows the zest and vanilla to infuse fully.
- Line a sieve with a handkerchief and pour the syrup through it into a jug; discard the pod and zest left in the sieve. Store in a glass container in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Dilute the cordial with still or sparkling water, at a ratio of one part cordial to three parts water. Serve with ice, and strips of orange zest for garnish, if you like.
All in all, I really enjoyed the experience! I will be trying more flavours soon...
THIS TIME IN 2014: No blog due to family difficulties
THIS TIME IN 2013: No blog due to going abroad