Cucumber Lime Fizz

Cucumber drinks are great all year. Left to right: Cucumber infused soda water & Cucumber  Lime Fizz.

Cucumber drinks are great all year. Left to right: Cucumber infused water & Cucumber Lime Fizz.

Did you know that cucumbers can cool blood and reduce swelling, erase pen ink, keep glass from fogging and clean surfaces without streaks? And if you eat it? Well! It eliminates bad breath, assists with hang-overs and provides you with 13 vitamins and minerals. Hooray for the mighty cucumber. They even have a National  Cucumber Day in the United Kingdom in June.

Ok so it’s November, but cucumbers are a favourite snack in my home (for 3/4 of us) and make an excellent addition to beverages. I found a wonderful recipe for a vodka infused cucumber ginger fizz from Martha Stewart which you can find here. I revamped to create something refreshing and sweet without the need for more cucumber the next day to treat any over indulgences. (Unless you love cucumbers like I do, then by all means enjoy them the next day!)

The original version instructs on how to make a cucumber infusion – giving an hour to have the flavours blend. Since cooking cucumbers in syrup is not an option here, two options present themselves: infusing cucumbers in water or sparkling water, or muddling cucumbers into a cold simple syrup and then straining the ingredients.

As the other two flavours are both strong — lime and ginger— I tested all options to see which would provide the best cucumber flavour against the true recipe. In order to compensate for the slower infusion rate of the cucumber in sparkling water or regular water, I gave each three time the infusion time of the vodka. Then created the recipe as directed and taste tested each.

Interestingly enough, there was very little difference between the drinks. The drinks are made with mostly sparkling water and all the flavours are very subtle. So I tried again but made smaller sizes, with the same amount of the flavouring ingredients (infusion, syrup, lime) and just less soda water.

Much more tasty and the differences between drinks was a little more noticeable.

Muddling the fresh ingredients in simple syrup and water gave the drink a bit more kick from the lime and ginger  (I used three small slices each of ginger and cucumber) gave the drink a more earthy taste and a slight opaqueness to the drink.  The infused version had a sweeter flavour, more clarity and tasted more like a refreshing pop. For all the drinks, the ginger and lime flavours came out stronger than the cucumber, while the cucumber lent more to the aroma and nuance of the drink.

I used soda water for my infusion and the salt added a stronger note to that drink than plain water or vodka, however the initial fizz from the soda water was long gone after the infusion process. The vodka infusion was easily replaced with any of the other infusions making this drink easy to adapt to a virgin recipe without a loss in flavour.

So the verdict? Both the muddling and the water infused options were my favourite of the bunch. I definitely recommend making the drink with the more concentrated recipe.

Fresh Cucumber Ginger Fizz – Muddling Method

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 slices ginger root
  • 3-4 slices cucumber (depending on thickness of slices)
  • 2 Tbsp simple syrup (1:1 water to sugar)
  • wedge of lime (1/8 lime)
  • soda or sparkling water
  • extra cucumber
Procedure:

Create garnish by slicing cucumber along length with a peeler and cutting into thirds. You will need one to two slices depending on the size of your glass. Fill glass with ice and drop cucumber slices in around edge.

Squeeze lime into glass and drop wedge into top of glass. Top with soda water (3-4 oz). Muddle ginger and cucumber in cocktail shaker with simple syrup. Strain while pouring over the ice. Stir and serve.

Sweet Cucumber Lime Fizz – Infusion Method

Ingredients:
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 Tbsp cucumber infused soda water (see below)
  • 2 Tbsp Martha Stewart’s ginger simple syrup
  • wedge of lime (1/8 lime)
  • 3-4 oz soda or sparkling water
Procedure:

To make soda infused water chop half cucumber coarsely and place in non reactive container with 1 can (1 2/3 cups) soda water. Allow to infuse for 3 hours, strain and keep in fridge until use. (Lasts 2 days)

To create garnish slice remaining  cucumber along length with a peeler. You will need two to three slices depending on the size of your glass. Fill glass with ice and drop cucumber slices in around edge.

Squeeze lime into glass and drop wedge into top of glass. Top with soda water (3-4 oz). Pour ginger simple syrup into each glass, stir and serve.

My Thoughts:

What did my family think?

With a hubby who hates cucumbers and two kids who find ginger drinks overpowering, I had to go to outside sources. So after my first testing, I meandered over to my sister-in-laws with some samples and created both the “favourites” for her. Her comments? “Refreshing” Her preference? The more earthy muddled drink, which I agree feels more like a cocktail and less like a mixture of pops.

What’s your preference? With only two samplers at my disposal, I challenge you to do the taste test and comment on your thoughts.

Candy Corn Drink Review

Candy Corn Drink from Better Home and Gardens.

Candy Corn Drink from Better Home and Gardens. Three layers of colour, three flavours and textures blending into one drink.

I came across this fun all ages drink at Better Home and Gardens when looking for fun candy themed drinks to try for halloween. The ingredients were simple: Lemon jello, Mango Nector, Orange pop, whipping cream and honey. In their version the ingredients are made in a single glass pitcher, layered for effect to be like the three layers of candy corn and then muddled before serving.

You can find the recipe here on their site.

I wanted to serve this for dinner for guests so I made the drinks individually. Since the recipe served 8, but I wanted mini sizes, I used plastic cocktail glasses and made half servings, as well as seeing what would happen if I used milkshake glasses to serve the drink in at full serving size.

In order to get the opacity and slightly gelatinized look and texture of the bottom layer, I tried two things. First I made the bottom layer with half the amount of nectar since I had juice instead of the thicker stuff. Second I tried to create mango nectar from “scratch” since our store only carried mango juice and it is not the same. Mango nectar has the pulp plus the juice and often some other form of sweetener and liquid.

For the first experiment, the layers were barely visible. I tested this on my family and friends.

I can understand why this was originally done in a pitcher. When mixing up the drink, the whipped cream starts to foam. Smaller containers, filled to the brim like I tried to do are a bit of an accident waiting to happen. My youngest, found this out and had to run to the bathroom to clean herself off – oops!

What did they think of the drink? Thumbs up from the 7 year old, even with the mess factor (or maybe because of it?). Mixed reviews from the 11 year old and 13 year old niece. And the adults, some liked it ok, others not so much. With the first non nector batch.

I would recommend the smaller size too. This is a very sweet drink, and a bit like desert with the jello, fruit juice and whipped cream. Considering the size of the full portion, I would be buzzing for days from the sugar! Good for a wake-a-thon or long movie night perhaps?

With the mango pulp added the resulting drink looked very close to the original images. But no one, not one of us liked the resulting flavour. The mango puree was a write off. I must not be reproducing mango nectar correctly.  Not one person in our family liked this. I will have to see if I can find the real deal…

From my research into the original candy, the flavour of all three colours is vanilla. The only difference is colour. Maybe something with less blends of flavours and textures maybe for a future experiment?

Kid-o-metre 2/5 Mango and orange… not enjoyed. Orange and lemon, better.
Taste: 1/5  
not enough of a all ages appeal, too sweet for most adults, only liked not loved by kids.
Simplicity: 4/5
Takes a bit of time, layering can be challenging… stirring messy.
Ingredient finding: 4/5 
No mango nector available.

Darkness Falls

Drinks made with Black Liquorice Syrup. From left to right:

Drinks made with Black Licorice Syrup. From left to right: Ghost Shooter, Spicy Night Cocktail, Tiger Ice Cream Shooter and Black Lagoon Mocktail

Today’s focus, for the second halloween blog, is black drinks.

When researching spooky drinks, I came across some beautiful layered drinks both shots and martinis featuring black vodka. The idea of layering a black beverage appealed to me, and I had just the ingredients in my kitchen! So in honour of me mum, who is a huge licorice fan, I created a black licorice flavoured syrup and started my experiments on what could be done with this new ingredient.

Black Licorice Syrup

The goal here is to make a concentrated syrup that will work even when diluted by half without loosing it’s flavour in the recipe. With all syrups, the best test is to mix 1:1 with water. If the resulting taste is perfect than the original syrup will work well in drink mixes.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 oz aniseed (or 1 tbsp aniseed extract)
  • Black food colouring (I used Duff Goldman brand)
Procedure:

Blend aniseed (or extract) with water and bring to a boil. Simmer 10 minutes then remove from heat if using seeds and allow to steep 30 minutes. Strain and add sugar. Cook until sugar dissolves completely, then add food colouring drop by drop until the desired darkness is reached (about 10-15 drops). Because this food colouring looks purple when not strong enough, be sure to check syrup for darkness – you want BLACK. Taste syrup, it should be sweet and licorice flavoured. If still bitter add more sugar, if too weak and you have aniseed extract on hand ad a few drops until desired concentration is reached.

Ok that’s the foundation. Now for the fun!

Tiger Ice Cream Shooters

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First up, something fun to play with densities. Since Black Licorice syrup is definitely NOT black vodka, one cannot expect it to float on just about everything.

Black vodka is coloured with black Catechu and has no flavour other than that of the vodka – or so they say. Black vodka is also 80 proof, so wowee zowee it’s definitely NOT virgin! But does float nicely.

Sambuca, is another anise (or licorice) flavoured adult only beverage – and while not black is only 42% alcohol and in the liqueur category. Good! Nice to know, and somewhat relevant if searching for recipe ideas online.

Since my syrup is denser than any alcoholic original, I can’t expect it to float and have to find other ingredients that will float on it instead. Turns out that orange juice, both concentrated and in it’s normal diluted version both float nicely on syrups with a 1:1 sugar to water concentration. OK! Here goes the testing.

My first kick at the can was to layer concentrated OJ over the syrup and see how that faired. Too strong, too sweet. My hubby says also too orange tasting. Next try: three layers, same two on the bottom, but an added layer of cream (since it’s supposed to be like ice-cream eh!).Still not perfect. The cream hits the pallet too fast and is gone before the liquorice gets to your tongue.

So I tried mixing the cream and orange first then layering it on top. Better. Closer. Now to perfect it. According to my daughter, Tiger ice-cream is more orange than licorice. So, 1/3 licorice to 2/3 orange should do it. What was the verdict. Pretty Good!

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 oz black licorice syrup
  • 1/2 oz orange juice concentrate
  • 1/2 oz whipping cream
Procedure:

Pour syrup into bottom of shot glass. Mix juice and cream in cocktail shaker and dry shake (shake with no ice). Layer onto the syrup in the shot and serve.

My Thoughts:

I thought to drop a 2 oz ball of vanilla ice-cream into the mix, increasing the glass size to compensate. While it looks pretty, the drink becomes impossible to drink in a gulp and, since this is a layered drink, that is required to blend the flavours of the two layers. So, ice cream is not an option, regardless of cool (pun intended) factor of the ice-cream!

Kid-o-metre 3/5 one of two kids likes this in my family
Taste: 3/5 Half of us like licorice, the other half not so much.
Simplicity: 4/5 One syrup, and the easiest thing to layer ever!
Ingredient finding: 3/5 Having aniseed in town is great, having aniseed extract in my cupboard was even better, made it easier. Black food colouring though needs to be picked up out of town.

Ghost Shooters

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This next shooter is another attempt to layer – but I wanted to try a different blend of flavours than the common orange and licorice. So I checked out what pairs with licorice or anise and came up with the idea of chocolate. Well, I happened to have some white chocolate cream left, so why not! The result is a layer of white chocolaty goodness floating like a ghost over the black drink. Add some whipped cream and some chocolate ships for eyes…Yup, spooky!

Ingredients:
  • 1  oz Black Licorice Syrup
  • 1/2 White Chocolate Cream
  • whipping cream – whipped
  • 2 chocolate chips
Procedure: 

Pour syrup into bottom of shot glass, carefully layer the chocolate cream over the syrup and let settle for a minute. Top generously with whipped cream, add two chocolate chips and serve.

My Thoughts:

They now sell chocolate covered licorice, so this combo wasn’t much of a stretch. Does it work in a shooter? Yup. Sweet and creamy dessert type shooter. However don’t tryp to do this with no hands as some whipped cream topped shooters dictate. You’ll choke on the chocolate chips, and the chocolate cream is too thick to tip upside down, but mostly you’ll choke. Trust me. I tried it.

Kid-o-metre 3/5 not a hit – even with chocolate
Taste: 3/5 an aquired taste.
Simplicity: 3/5 two recipes, not hard though. Minimal ingredients required.
Ingredient finding: 3/5

Black Lagoon Mocktail

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This next recipe is an adaptation of Matha Stewarts Black Lagoon Cocktail. She had the great idea of making licorice flavoured ice cubes and then floating them in a blend of rosemary lemon vodka and seltzer. I had a similar syrup that I chose to use – stronger citrus flavour and brilliant in the drink. If I made the drink with club soda – hold the vodka – and followed the rest of the recipe I should in theory be able to create an all ages version.

Ingredients:
  • 2 oz rosemary citrus syrup (recipe below)
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 oz club soda
  • Licorice Ice Cubes
  • Black liquorice for garnish (didn’t have this at the time for the pic!)
Procedure:

Combine syrup, juice and club soda in a 8 oz old fashioned glass filled with Black Licorice Ice Cubes. Stir to blend flavours. Cut the ends off a black licorice stick to make a staw and serve immediately.

My Thoughts:

According to the original recipe as the drink melts the colour goes from clear to black. I have not had a chance to find this out yet, primarily because I failed to read the original directions – oops! I make the ice cubes out of the licorice syrup, strong sugar syrup it turns out, and the ice cubes turned into super sweet licorice toffee! So not to be undone, I scooped it out of the ice cube tray, plopped it in the bottom of the drink and continued as directed. The syrup added a super sweet flavour to the drink, slowly dissolving in the soda. The result was pretty terrific.

Check out the real way to make licorice ice cubes here if you want the original look.

You’ll also note that there is no licorice straw in my drinks. Seems there is no licorice in town this week… sigh.

Kid-o-metre 3/5 not a hit – with kids
Taste: 5/5 liquorice and rosemary, who knew!
Simplicity: 3/5 two recipes, not hard though (Colette, follow the directions gal!).
Ingredient finding: 3/5 Rosemary and food colouring from out of town


Rosemary Citrus Syrups

This syrup comes from a recipe for Rosemary Citrus Spritzer – all virgin from The Kitchn. I am continually finding great uses for this syrup!

Ingredients:

2 lemons – zest and juice
2 oranges – zest and juice
4 (4 inch) sprigs rosemary
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 honey

Boil all ingredients one minute, remove and cool 10 minutes to steep. Strain and store in airtight container until use. Lasts about 1 month.


Spicy Night Cocktail

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I love licorice flavour and was looking for flavours that complement the flavour of aniseed other than orange. Cinnamon and cloves came up and I just had to try it out.

This drink is made with syrups and soda water, to keep the beverage as clear as possible, the licorice and cinnamon syrup do infuse upward making the drink muddy, grey and mysterious.

Ingredients:
Procedure:

Pour cinnamon and licorice syrup into bottom of flute glass. Mix orange simple syrup, sour mix and soda water in cocktail shaker with a bit of ice to chill it and stir well. Strain, and pour carefully, layering if possible, over the darker syrup base. Top with some clear soda water to keep the top as light as possible. Serve.

My Thoughts:

I wish this was more distinctive in look from the Black Lagoon, when the drinks are both blending light into dark. Next time I make this I will consider ice as a barrier from the two elements mixing. I made this as an afterthought, feeling like I needed one more offering for this blog. I have not tested it on my family yet and me mom is not here to tell me the drink is terrific. (I stand alone in my household, with no licorice loving companions, what ever will I do?)

If you have been enjoying this, I would love to hear from you! A shout out to those in the UK who have been following and in the USA – Hi Y’all! Did you know that in the UK Licorice is spelled Liquorice? Yup! Just a small fact you may —or may not— care about.

 

Spoon!

Drinks inspired by the mighty tick. From right to left: Big Blue Moon, Mighty Blue and Blue on Ice.

Drinks inspired by the mighty tick. From right to left: Big Blue Moon, Mighty Blue and Blue on Ice.

“[The Tick is has an eating utensil in his hand. He is trying to come up with a battle cry that will strike terror into the hearts of evil-doers]

Tick: [shouts] Spoon!”

Yesterday a much awaited item to add to my arsenal of drink making tools arrived in the mail – a genuine bar spoon complete with twisted handle and metal disc on the end. With spoon in hand, I spent the next half hour waiting to yell “Spoon!” to my Tick loving hubby, who was in meetings… oh so many meetings.

So with the thoughts of blue drinks coursing through my mind, I set upon a mission to make a new drink inspired by the Tick – something big, blue and powerful.

Here is my Ode to the Tick.

The Mighty Blue

“Like a great blue salmon of Justice, the mighty Tick courses upstream to the very spawning ground of evil.” – The Tick 

This first drink is inspired by spiritdrinks.com recipe for Angostura Stinger. The recipe is a blend of mint, chocolate, orange, cream and bitters. Creating similar ingredients sans-booze was not difficult but took a few steps.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 oz mint simple syrup
  • 1 oz White Chocolate Cream (recipe below)
  • 2 oz blue curaçao syrup (recipe below)
  • 2 oz half and half cream
My Thoughts:

The taste of the white chocolate and cream mix well with the flavours to create a sweet powerful flavour that is best sipped. I omitted the bitters as the home version of the curaçao tends to have that component. Great for a dessert beverage.

Kid-o-metre 4/5 Sweet!
Taste: 4/5  nice blend when you keep the mint syrup light in the mix.
Simplicity: 3/5  Three recipes to make, but nothing hard to do.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 Local Local Local.


 White Chocolate Cream
Ingredients:

6 oz white chocolate chips
1 cup whipping cream

Heat whipping cream in saucepan on medium high. When heated add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Remove from heat and pour into container to cool. Keep in fridge until use.

Blue Curaçao Syrup
Ingredients:

2 cups cold water
2 cups white sugar
1 tbps orange extract
peel of two mandarine oranges – chopped
10 drops blue food colouring

Mix water and sugar on medium high in a sauce pan until sugar is dissolved completely. Add extract and orange peels and continue to heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Give the ingredients a chance to infuse for half hour then tint mixture with food colouring to desired degree. Strain out peels and store in air tight container in fridge until needed.


The Big Blue Moon

“I am mighty. I have a glow you cannot see. I have a heart as big as the moon. As warm as bathwater. We are superheroes, men, we don’t have time to be charming. The boots of evil were made for walkin’. We’re watching the big picture, friend. We know the score. We are a public service, not glamour boys. Not captains of industry. Keep your vulgar moneys. We are a justice sandwich. No toppings necessary. Living rooms of America, do you catch my drift? Do you dig?.” – The Tick 

Seems there are a ton of ideas for blue drinks out there, both using the blue tinted citrus flavoured curaçao, or Sourz Tropical Blue or for virgin drinks the use of blue Kool-Aid or Hawaiian Punch. Since neither family friendly blue liquid was available locally, I decided to make my own curaçao syrup, add a dash or two of food colouring and work with something more “adult inspired.”

The original Blue Moon includes vanilla, cream, curaçao and orange juice but I wanted something fizzy and the rating on the recipe was not inspiring. The Blue Duck blends curaçao, vanilla and raspberry together in a martini flavour, this had potential to update with a fizzy twist. And I could use my new “Spoon!” to not only measure some ingredients but also to try a stirred drink.

Ingredients:

Serving Size: Two 9 oz drinks

Procedure:

Measure vanilla, lemon juice, blue curaçao syrup and blue raspberry mix into a martini glass. Stir to blend and pour into two 10 oz old-fashioned or highball glasses. Add Ice and top with club soda (about half can per glass). Stir again to mix and serve.

My Thoughts: 

This is a very tart drink. The pure vanilla can become overpowering, so care has to be taken to make sure the other flavours are in correct proportion. If you prefer something sweeter, use Sprite.

I first tried this without the raspberry mix, forgetting I had an additional blue ingredient in my pantry. Without the added ingredient the beverage was too sour and the vanilla dominated the blend. Adding that one extra ingredient changed the mix to something worthy of writing about. Why the name Big Blue moon when the drink is far from the original? Well the tick doesn’t talk at all about ducks!

Kid-o-metre 3/5 with the addition of blue raspberry, this drink was acceptable but not guzzled down when served with dinner.
Taste: 4/5  Tart and good when thirsty, would be good with salty tortillas and dip.
Simplicity: 5/5  one recipe, simple to make, rest is all bottled ready to use from the local store.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 Small town possible.

Blue on Ice

“Let your journey into hugeness teach us all a lesson. Absolute power is a sticky wicket. And, Arthur, chum, you were the stickiest. Don’t you get it, good friend? Some of the best things come in small packages.” – The Tick 

This one is directly inspired by the layered drink called the Toronto Maple Leafs. I was looking for a layered shooter, using the colour blue, but also using my wonderful new spoon. In the end I also got to use my long spoon to pull the iced cream from the bottom of my blender (another reason they  make the shaft so long – just for that purpose!)

Ingredients:
  • 1 oz blue curaçao syrup (see above)
  • 1 oz Irish Cream Syrup (recipe below)
  • 1 oz whipping cream
  • 3 ice cubes or 1/4 cup ice

Serving Size: Two shots

Procedure:

Divide blue curaçao syrup between two shot glasses. Carefully layer Irish Cream Syrup over the blue syrup. Toss the cream and ice into a blender or magic bullet and use the ice chop setting if you have one to crush the ice into slush. Spoon over each drink and serve.

My Thoughts:

I originally tried this with the two ingredients from the original recipe. Because of the lack of the alcoholic bite, the final drink was too sweet and needed something new to cut the flavours. So I decided to try layering cream on the top. Even with whipping cream the density of the two top ingredients was too close and after four attempts I realized I had to be creative to get that final ingredient layering on the top. Inspired by the Maple Leafs who spend all their time on the ice, I decided to throw caution to the wind and toss the cream into a blender with a little ice, creating an iced cream that happily sat on top of the drink looking like a pile of ice shavings from the Zamboni.

I left these two drinks sitting for my kids to try, by the time they got home from school the iced cream had melted into a froth, leaving white moustaches on both girls after they tipped the drink into their mouths. I am guessing there would be a small brain freeze with the original, not a problem for such as the tick, who has such a small brain to start with I am sure it would never be affected!

“Destiny’s powerful hand has made the bed of my future and it’s up to me to lie in it. I am destined to be a superhero, to right wrongs and pound two-fisted justice into the hearts of evil-doers everywhere. You don’t fight destiny, no sir! And you don’t eat crackers in the bed of your future or you get all…scratchy. Hey, I’m narrating here!” 
– The Tick 

Kid-o-metre 5/5 Whether it’s melted or iced, this drink is pure yum!
Taste: 5/5  Gotta be good if it’s inspired by hockey right?
Simplicity: 3/5 This one takes skill baby!
Ingredient finding: 5/5 Even up north, these things are easy to find… especially the ice!


Irish Cream Syrup

This is the recipe from Allrecipes.com for DIY Original Irish Cream. I just omitted the whiskey!

Ingredients:

1 cup whipping cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp instant coffee granules
1 tsp pure vanilla
1 tsp chocolate syrup (Hershey’s or similar)
1 tsp pure almond extract

Add all but cram to blender, blend well then add cream and blend again. Pour into container and store in fridge. Lasts about 1 month refrigerated.


Well there you have it, that was fun! Not too scientific this time, in keeping with the theme…

“Oh, science… boring… interest… fading…” – the Tick

Bye for now!

Italian (or not) Cream Soda

 

Whether or not they're truly Italian, these drinks are a big hit with all ages.

Whether or not they’re truly Italian, these drinks are a big hit with all ages.

If you were to google Italian Cream Soda recipes you would come up with a wealth of ideas based on the concept of mixing purchased flavoured syrups, soda water ice and cream in a glass in a way that lets the syrup sink, the cream float and the drink look five kinds of cool. Because these flavoured syrups work well in flavoured coffees, teas and cocoas, milkshakes, lemonades and cocktails as well as sodas; Italian Sodas and Italian Cream Sodas are often served in trendy coffee shops.

Interestingly enough in researching about Italian Sodas, the origins are not, well, purely Italian.

According to Quattro Formaggi and Other Disgraces on the Menu a site focussing on “food known as Italian food and the food of Italy”, Italian sodas (made with syrups and soda water) and Italian Cream Sodas may or may not have originated in Italy. According to the site “In Sicily, a traditional soft drink is made by adding fruit syrups (e.g.: lemon, orange, mandarin, chinotto) to sparkling or seltz water.”  and fruit syrups were also used over shaved ice or added to iced water in Italy to make a drink called granita. According to wikipedia “An example of an alternative to Italian soda that is really from Italy is the chinotto, a carbonated drink made from the juice of a native Italian citrus fruit called the myrtle-leaved orange or myrtifolia.[1]” 

Some sites suggest that Italian Sodas originated when two italian immigrants introduced flavoured syrups in 1925, in San Francisco, by adding their syrups to soda water. Other site such as Art of Drink suggest that American companies were already doing this. Wikipedia also suggests that cream sodas were made as early as 1852; and that a patent for cream soda-water was granted in the USA in 1865 to Alexander C. Howell, and in Canada a patent for Ice-Cream Soda was granted in 1886 to James William Black. You can check out more details of these patents here if you are interested.

One thing for sure is that mixing soda water and flavoured syrups has been around for over a century. And mixing cream into the drink, either known as the “Italian Cream-soda” or “French Soda” or “Cremosa” is not an Italian concept but still a good idea that has become poplar in North America.

So back to the research and into the lab – ok the kitchen but lab sounds cooler.

Going back to the original idea of “sodas” – as a drink mixed from home made syrups and club soda – I am taken by the idea. This is something that can be created – using easy to find ingredients available at any grocery store and I can control the sugar and preservatives. And what happens if the syrup is replaced by concentrated juices?

Oh the possibilities for recipes.

Torani.com has a huge list of Italian Soda recipes based on their syrups. Since I have orange flavoured syrup of my own on hand I check out their Orange Cream Soda recipe. With this recipe, as in most of their recipes, they recommend about 2 tbsp (1 oz) syrup to 1 cup of soda water. If making a cream soda add “a touch of cream”.

Going further, other recipes have increased the concentration of syrup, suggesting 3 tbsp (1.5 oz)  per half cup soda or 6 tbsp (3 oz) per cup in a website Butter With a Side of Bread, or at Brown Eyed Baker. Other sites like  allrecipes.com and Hersheys suggest  3 tbsp (3/4 oz) syrup to 1 cup soda water.

Our best bites has a great step by step explanation on how to mix the drink. The secret is to add the syrup, then the ice. Top with soda water and then a splash of cream. The ice keeps the mixture more separated, in theory.

Ok time to test drinks.

Cinnamon Orange Cream Soda

 

2014-10-17-by-eye-for-detail-014Adding the idea of juices to the concept. I came up with this dazzling creation.

Ingredients:
Procedure:

Pour cinnamon syrup, then orange juice and simple syrup into bottom of collins or shake glass (it should layer somewhat). Add ice to fill about 3/4 glass. Add 8 oz club soda and a splash of cream. Serve with straw and mix before drinking.

My Thoughts:

When I was a small child orange juice was my comfort food/drink. If my mom was already in the room, I couldn’t call “mommy” and realized that at some level. So I cried “orange juice”. To this day, OJ is one of my favourite drinks. Add a splash of cinnamon, a dash or milk and OH MOMMY!

The whipping cream is heavy enough that it floats beautifully on the drink, slowly mixing in to give a nice effect. The cinnamon syrup sinks and shows up at the bottom and the ice does the trick of keeping the layers separated when adding the soda water. Seems Our Best Bites was right!

What did my family think? It rated one of the better choices (with or without cream) for each of our family members.

Kid-o-metre 5/5 Both kids loved this
Taste: 5/5  Flavours work in perfect proportion
Simplicity: 4/5  Two recipes to make, one that takes a little time.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 It’s all in town baby!

Black Forest Cream Soda

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Ingredients:
Procedure:

Pour chocolate, cherry juice and simple syrup into bottom of collins glass. Add ice to fill about 3/4 glass. Add 8 oz club soda and a splash of cream. Serve with straw and mix before drinking.

My Thoughts:

This is a balancing act between the cherry and chocolate flavour. Depending on the concentration of cherry juice, you may need to tweak this slightly. I made cherry juice out of 1 bag frozen dark sweet cherries and 1 cup water (recipe below) which made a rich dark juice.

My youngest daughter didn’t like this when she tried it. She declared she doesn’t like black forest cake. So we told her it was chocolate cherry soda. She tried it again, and loved it. What’s with that?? Tried this both with and without the cream, we think the Italian soda (no cream) may have the edge over the Italian Cream Soda or French Soda version.

Kid-o-metre 3/5 one of two kids likes this in my family
Taste: 3/5 good when you get the right balance
Simplicity: 3/5 While drinking chocolate is easy to whip up, having all the ingredients made and at hand takes time.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 all available within town – small town that is!


 Cherry Juice Recipe
Ingredients:

1 bag (600 grams) frozen dark sweet cherries (I used president’s choice brand)
2 cups water – divided
1/2 cup sugar

Simmer cherries in 1 cup water for 15 minutes, strain using fine mesh strainer reserving liquid. Return cherries to pot and add remaining water. Simmer another 15 minute, allow to cool. Pour cherries, with the water they were cooked in, into blender and blend until liquified. Strain pulp reserving liquid. Discard pulp.

Add 1/2 cup sugar to liquid from both batches and return to heat. Heat just until sugar is dissolved and remove from heat. Cool and store or freeze in 2 oz portions (ice cubes) if you wish the juice to last more than 2 weeks.


 Cherry Jubilee Cream Soda

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Ingredients:
Procedure:

Pour juice and syrups into bottom of glass (collins for full portions or champagne glass for two smaller servings). Add ice to fill about 3/4 glass. Add 8 oz club soda and a splash of cream. Serve with straw and mix before drinking.

My Thoughts:

I served this in half portions in champagne flutes for added elegance and looks beautiful when cream is added.  When I first made this I used half and half cream which is normally recommended for Italian cream soda recipes online. The cream quickly mixed into the drink. Using whipping cream slows this process creating beautiful lines of white descending into the red of the juice – just the way it should look.

Kid-o-metre 4/5 Both kids liked this but it was not the preferred choice of the three.
Taste: 4/5 Lovely, but when I wasn’t looking my husband added chocolate!
Simplicity: 4/5 Two special ingredients to make up, again once prep is done it’s a cinch.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 No problem

In chatting with my hubby, who has never been a carbonated drink fan, he regularly ordered Italian Cream Soda’s when out with his buddies back in Vancouver, BC. His reason? The cream mellows out the carbonation making the drink enjoyable.

With both my kids and my hubby fans of this concept, I can see that we continue to experiment with flavours in the future, and as long as no more are called after a hated desert, I am betting of further sighs of happiness from my family.