But sometimes plain sparkling water—or even a squeeze of lemon—isn’t enough. And while I could buy syrups that replicate the taste of Coca-Cola or Sprite for my soda-happy husband, I’m not digging the chemical additions and artificial flavors on their ingredient lists. A splash of regular fruit juice or lemonade shake things up in a daily water routine, but often I want more. Good thing my friend, cookbook author (and Good. Food. Stories. contributor) Andrea Lynn came up with 70 recipes for homemade soda syrups to stir into plain old seltzer in her new book, The Artisan Soda Workshop—and you can win a copy of the book for your very own!
It’s tough to call this a cookbook per se because the recipes are so inspired, yet so simple. Real ingredients—prickly pear, rosemary, kiwi, cantaloupe, and lemongrass—take the soda options way beyond orange, cherry, and grape; and natural sugars like agave and honey are prominently featured in a bunch of recipes, making this a sweet option for soda lovers who stopped eating cane sugar. As Andrea says, “The magic is in the creativity. Traditionally, there’s no anything like a hibiscus soda on the market. But why not? Make a syrup from it, then add to seltzer, and voila. It’s so much more versatile than I ever thought it could be.”
And there’s a recipe for whatever time constraints you’re faced with, whether you need an instant hit of flavor or are planning a special signature cocktail for next weekend’s dinner party. Quick-simmered syrups like the autumnal honey, concord grape, and pear syrup come together in minutes, fruity infusions like the unusually refreshing sea salt-lime syrup steep while you sleep, and—my personal favorite—tart and bracing vinegar-infused shrubs like persimmon-black pepper build flavor slowly. And yes, she’s got homemade versions of classic soda brands like Fresca, Cherry Coke, and a quick faux fix for Dr. Pepper. (This is why we’re friends, obviously.)
Even if you don’t own a Sodastream, you can most definitely mix the syrups you make from The Artisan Soda Workshop with bottled sparkling water. They’re most definitely as refreshing with San Pellegrino or Polar seltzer as they are with home-carbonated water, though if you kick that last can of seltzer at 10:00 pm after an impromptu homemade syrup cocktail hour, I’m not the one making a convenience store run to bring you some more—you’re on your own there. In fact, if you’ve got a saucepan, a spatula, and a strainer, you’re in good shape to make nearly any recipe in the book. They’re that easy and that worthwhile.
Try out Andrea’s—dare I say it?—life-changing recipe for sea salt-lime syrup below, and enter the giveaway to get the other 69 recipes in the book.
**UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered and congratulations to Barbara, commenter #28, for winning the book!**
Sea Salt-Lime Syrup
from The Artisan Soda Workshop by Andrea Lynn, reprinted with the author’s permission
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 12 hours, including infusing time
Makes about 3/4 cup
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons agave syrup
- 2 limes, zested and juiced
Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil and stir in the sea salt until dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the agave syrup, lime zest, and lime juice.
Let the syrup cool, then transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the lime zest before serving.
To make sea-salt lime soda, stir 1 tablespoon syrup into 10 oz. seltzer. Sprinkle a few flakes of sea salt into the soda or rim the glass with salt before serving, if desired.
The syrup will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.