When I read the list of ingredients for making homemade cola I couldn’t believe that in combination they would really create the flavor I expect cola to be. The fragrance is what I noticed first. When this mixture was steeping, the whole house smelled like cola. The biggest difference between this and a can of Coke is the homemade factor. With this recipe you can smell and taste each separate ingredient as you sip. One sip will taste of ginger, the next maybe orange or anise. Coke tastes very uniform and homogenous in comparison. I doubt if I will start making this on a large scale for regular drinking, but I will definitely keep it in reserve for a special occasion or for making a killer Cuba Libre! This recipe came from The New York Times and Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain.
- Grated zest of 2 medium oranges
- Grated zest of 1 large lime
- Grated zest of 1 large lemon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
- 1 section of a star anise pod, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 1 one-and-a-half-inch piece vanilla bean, split
- 1/4 teaspoon citric acid, I found it at Fred Meyer in the bulk spices section.
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
- 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon caramel color powder, optional- I used a couple drops of food coloring, but left it at a lovely pinkish-brown shade.
- Seltzer or club soda for mixing
In a heavy pot over medium heat, bring 2 cups water to a simmer with the zests, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, lavender, ginger, vanilla and citric acid. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Place the sugars in a large bowl. If using caramel color, sprinkle it over the sugar. Line a sieve or colander with a double thickness of cheesecloth and place over the bowl of sugar. Pour the contents of the pot through the sieve. Carefully gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and twist the top to close. Use a spoon to press the bundle against the sieve, squeezing out all the flavorful liquid. Stir the syrup and let cool, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves, about 15 minutes. Transfer to containers and keep refrigerated. To make a soda, pour 1/4 cup syrup over ice and add 1 cup seltzer. Stir. Makes about 3 cups syrup.