My family loves bubbles in drinks. We have grown extremely fond of our Soda Stream and as a result I’ve been making loads of concoctions. Before the advent of the Soda Stream we used the old faithful seltzer maker – and while it’s a bit more attractive, it’s not as convenient. Here are a few recipes to make your own lower sugar sodas – a fun activity on a hot summer day.
Fresh Ginger Fizz – If you love ginger than this a refreshing bite of a beverage for you. Advance planning is advised but not entirely necessary. Boil 4 cups of water. Grate 3/4 lbs. of ginger, it doesn’t have to be super fine in fact a rough chop will work well, especially if you are allowing it to marinate for 1 week.
Place the freshly grated ginger into a large heat proof container. These Bormioli Rocco jars are perfect for just this type of thing. Add the 1/4 tsp. nutmeg or mace (nutmeg is preferred) 1 to 1 1/2 cups agave syrup, and 1/2 a vanilla bean – split open and the beans, scrape out and place both into the container. Pour the boiled water over and let come to room temperature. Once cooled, add 2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice and place in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Feel free to try it each day. You may want to add more sweetener, especially if you started with only 1 cup of agave. I prefer it less sweet. Strain off the liquid and add to any mixed cocktail. This beverage is good non-carbonated but we like it better with just a hint of fizz added. Consider this a base of concentrated ginger which you can dilute and drink how you please.
Rhubarb Sparkler I was told by my daughter and her friend that this one is the best rhubarb soda ever. Take 1 lb. of rhubarb and place in a large pot with 5 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar. Add a 1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves. Bring to a boil then lower heat and and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely and then strain off the liquid. Chill until cold. Pour about 1/2 a cup into an ice filled glass, give a squeeze of lime and add the sparkling water, either house-made or store bought.
Watermelon Spritzer – This recipe was inspired by a post on food52 that is far more complex. As I started to make this one, I decided that the flavors were going to be too muddled for my tastes and simply stuck to the basic principle of the recipe. Take 6 cups of chopped watermelon and place in a bowl with some fresh mint leaves.
Pour 3 cups of freshly boiled water over the fruit and allow to steep for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Strain off the water into a pitcher. The remaining watermelon can be eaten, it will be a bit soft and minty. You could also freeze the watermelon pieces for smoothie.
You can choose to sweeten this or not. But if you do I suggest a simple syrup instead of honey or agave. it’s a bit cleaner and allows for the melon flavor to take center stage. Pour into a glass, about 1/2 way up and top off with your sparkling water of choice. This drink is supposed to be light and refreshing, not overly sweet. This also makes a great base for gin, rum or vodka cocktails.
Sparkling Apple Cider Vinegar Refresher – While it might sound strange to put apple cider vinegar in a beverage, I assure you it’s not a new idea. In fact, I see it as an up and coming beverage trend which started with Pok Pok Som out of Oregon. Before you wrinkle your nose at the idea, just try this very simple drink. You can make your own apple juice but I think Simply Apple is an easier alternative. Pour about 1/4 cup into a glass, add 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar and top off with the carbonated water.
For a non-carbonated treat try a Frozen Hot Chocolate.
I tried my first one at Serendipity’s in New York far too many years ago. Surprisingly easy to make, frozen hot chocolate is a perfect summer time treat. You can dress this up adding fresh vanilla bean and topping it with freshly whipped cream and chocolate shavings or just enjoy it’s cool frothiness with no adornments.
There are several ways you can make this. The easiest way is to use 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 2 1/4 cups milk and 3/4 cups sugar. Blend the cocoa and sugar together, pour in 1/2 the milk to stir into a paste.
Meanwhile heat the remaining milk and then pour it into the coc0a/sugar/milk paste. You want to make sure the sugar dissolves. Pour into ice trays or into paper cups. Allow to cool before placing in the freezer. Once they are fully frozen, remove them and let them soften slightly before plopping them into the bowl of a food processor.
All you need is some time to allow the mixture to freeze and then blend it up in a food processor. You can use a blender but the consistency is better in a food processor.
A richer version includes melting some good quality chocolate and adding it to store bought hot cocoa mix. For that recipe, melt 3 ounces of really good chocolate – milk or dark – your choice. Add it to 2 tsp. hot cocoa mix and 1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar. Stir into a paste. Heat 1/2 the milk and add it to the chocolate cocoa paste. Add remaining milk and continue as stated above.
Either way you try it, it will be sure to delight.