Sparkling wine is the typical go-to for those who imbibe to ring in the New Year, and certainly there are many beautiful bottles of B.C. bubbly to select for any celebration, spontaneous occasion, or even a random Wednesday.
But making your own soda at home is trendy, and given the gift of a SodaStream this year, I’ve started researching recipes to explore. No soda maker? Club soda from the store is just fine for these creations too.
You can craft your own yummy infused syrups by first making a simple syrup. Put equal parts granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool and store in a glass jar with a tight lid.
Flavours to add to simple syrup while it’s on the stove, after the sugar is dissolved can include:
• A couple of cinnamon sticks
• A vanilla bean
• Sliced ginger
• Fresh herbs such as few sprigs of mint, basil, rosemary, or thyme, or a few bay leaves.
Add one of the above and simmer for a minute or two, then remove from the heat to steep for a half hour. Cool, remove the flavouring item, and strain.
For fruit flavoured syrups, add your favourite fresh fruit to the syrup, and simmer longer – for ten minutes – till the fruit is broken down, then cool and strain. Best to hunt the internet for a recipe for the fruit of your choice, as water and sugar proportions will need adjusting depending on the fruit.
Not into crafting your own? Find syrups or bitters at your favourite distillery or gourmet shop. Hint: The Okanagan Artisan has a delicious pear and ginger craft cocktail syrup that is addictive.
All of these syrups can be added to bubbly soda for some flavour, but how about a few soda-inspired drinks to give a try this New Years?
A vanilla and Earl Grey soda is made by adding a couple of bags of Earl Grey tea to vanilla simple syrup and letting it simmer together, but not for too long so the tea doesn’t make everything bitter. Pour a quarter cup of syrup into a tall glass, add soda and stir, then top with cream.
Use your simple syrup to make cranberry spritzers for the whole family. A litre from your soda making device, a cup of unsweetened cranberry juice, and a cup of syrup (or less if you don’t have a sweet tooth), mixed in a pitcher. Bonus? The adults can add a shot of vodka to theirs.
If you’re not past your holiday chocolate cravings, put two parts milk and one part cold club soda in a blender. Add a few (or more) squirts of chocolate syrup, fill with ice. Optional: add an ounce of cold brewed espresso or Frangelico. Blend till smooth, pour into glasses, and top with ice cream.
Gone are my days of only adding lemon juice to a can of club soda. Bring on 2022.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.