Since it has been unusually rainy, it hasn't been as hot. Normally by this time of the year, it is quite hot and I am reaching for sparkling water for a refreshing and changeable drink. I love just a glass of sparkling water, but I also appreciate that a syrup can be added for a little flavor as well as making it sweeter if I so desire. I have been borrowing books from the library as I sometimes do when I have more time. I came across the book Quench by Ashley English. English has written a number of different cookbooks focusing on a specific topic. Since I am somewhat obsessed with making drinks from scratch at the moment, this book was a great read with many non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks which you can make at home. I have been focusing on the cold drinks and the topic which fascinated me was homemade cola. We all know what cola tastes like. It obviously varies from brand to brand, so when I decided I needed to make it, I was interested in all the different things that go into making this actually taste like cola. Now my husband would disagree that it tastes like other colas, but I think it has just the right amount of cola flavor. Plus, because I am making it at home there isn't any caffeine in it, which is exactly what I can handle late in the day when it gets somewhat more hot and I want something refreshing to drink. It didn't take long and it yielded a bunch of syrup which will take care of your cola craving for a while.
Homemade Cola Syrup
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly ground is best for flavor)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (I used a heaping scoop as I like the flavor)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon citric acid (optional; I didn't have any so I didn't use it)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon molasses
zest from 1 orange
zest from 1 lime
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 1 lime (if small, half if larger)
1 inch pieces of vanilla bean, cut lengthwise
1 1/2 cups of sugar
Sparkling water to serve
Combine the water, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, (citric acid if using - it helps to keep it preserved and makes the soda a bit more tart), ginger, molasses, zests from the three citrus fruits, lime juice and vanilla bean in a medium pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth to remove any solid particles. Rinse the pot and add the sugar and the reduced liquid. Stir until the sugar has been dissolved.
Transfer to a container with a lid and store in refrigerator. When serving, mix about 3 tablespoons of the concentrate with sparkling water. (I use about 3 tablespoons with 10 ounces water as I don't like it very sweet. Add as much or as little water as you like depending on taste.) Use within about 2 weeks.