Yield
Enough for 5 quarts brewed cola
Extracts aren't necessary for cola flavor. After all, those extracts originally started as real ingredients, so why not go right to the source? This formula yields a beautiful cola concoction using all fresh and dried ingredients, readily available in most home refrigerators and spice cupboards. The one ingredient you might have to search for is gum arabic. It's there for mouthfeel rather than flavor, so if you don't have it, your cola will still be delicious; it will just seem a little thin.
 
Ingredients
 
Cola syrup:
  • 1 quart water
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
  • 3 large (5-inch) cinnamon sticks, broken into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons dried bitter orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon gum arabic (optional)
  • 2 pounds sugar
  • 1/4 cup browning sauce, such as Kitchen Bouquet
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the water, lemon zest, lime zest, orange zest, cinnamon, bitter orange peel, coriander seed, nutmeg, and gum arabic (if using) in a large saucepan. Whisk together until the gum arabic dissolves. Stir in the sugar and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
 
Boil for 1 minute.
 
Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon, lime, and orange juices, along with the browning sauce and vanilla. Let cool, then strain.
 
This syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
 
Instructions
 
Prepare the cola syrup as described, then carbonate as desired.
 

To mix with seltzer

Yield: 1 serving
 

  • 1/2 cup cola syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups seltzer
Pour the syrup into a tall glass. Add the seltzer and stir just until blended. Add ice and serve.
 

To carbonate with a siphon

Yield: 3 servings
 

  • 3 1/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup cola syrup
Combine the water and syrup in a 1-quart soda siphon. Charge with CO2 according to the manufacturer's directions. Siphon-charged sodas can be stored in the siphon in a refrigerator for up to 5 days. Disperse as desired into tall glasses filled with ice, and serve.
 

To brew

Yield: 5 quarts
 

  • 4 quarts lukewarm (80-90°F) water
  • 1 batch cola syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon champagne yeast (Saccharomyces bayanus)
Combine the water and syrup in a large container. Test the temperature; the mixture should be at a warm room temperature, from 75 to 80°F. (If it is too hot, let it sit until it cools a bit. If it is too cold, warm it over low heat.) Add the yeast and stir until it is completely dissolved.
 
Pour the mixture into sanitized plastic bottles using a sanitized kitchen funnel, leaving 1 1/4 inches of air space at the top of each bottle. Seal the bottles. Store for 2 to 4 days at room temperature. When the bottles feel rock hard, the soda is fully carbonated.
 
Refrigerate for at least 1 week before serving; drink within 3 weeks to avoid overcarbonation.
 

Kentucky Cola

Pour 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Jack Daniels over ice cubes in a tall glass, and fill with cola.
 

Mind Bender

Pour 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) dark rum and 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) golden tequila over ice cubes in a tall glass, and fill with cola.
 

Cherry Cola

Pour 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) cherry liqueur and 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) light rum over ice in a rocks glass, and fill with cola. Garnish with a cherry.

Reprinted with permission from Homemade Soda by Andrew Schloss.