Zesty Orange Soda – Can’t give up soda? With homemade zesty orange simple syrup, a few muddled orange slices, and fizzy seltzer – You won’t have to! Make your own!
I used to have a very serious soda addiction. I mean, serious. Looking back I was just rebelling. I didn’t grow up eating junk food. Junk food was reserved for parties and special occasions. Growing up my mom put a box of Frankenberry in our cart, like twice. Cocoa Puffs? Forget it. A box of Lucky Charms? Dude, seriously – That happened like 3 times in my childhood. If I wanted to eat any sort of sugar laden treat I’d have wait till mami was in that sort of mood. And that was HARDLY NEVAH.
That’s just not how she rolled. I grew up eating Corn Flakes, Total, and Raisin Bran. That’s what you got. And you didn’t say a word against it or there was a Caribbean backhand with your initials on it. Soda was out of the question. You had two choices – Water or water. If she was in a good mood, and had money (she was a single mom raising 2 kids) she’d buy juice, but we grew up with mostly water as our main hydration situation. Summers? Limeaid and Tamarind juice, which had a large amount of water.
That changed when I got my very first part time job as a teen. I had been deprived so long that I needed to sample every single carbonated beverage known to man, and I did – Because, dammit – I could! Water was cast aside for my beloved Pepsi or Orange Sunkist situations. I think from the age of seventeen through, oh, twenty four – With the exception of my pregnancy, I drank like 10 glasses of water.
Ok – Maybe that’s an exaggeration. But I drank very little water. I could polish off a 2-liter bottle of any soda in a day. I’d have multiple cans of soda daily in addition to that. I didn’t drink coffee at the time so soda became my main source of caffeine. It’s a wonder I didn’t vibrate in place or my innards didn’t turn into caramel syrup. Or perhaps they did. Who knows? I can’t see my innards. Eventually I did give up soda. A little at a time. Because I was a straight up addict with the shakes and whatnot. But I gave it up. I discovered a newfound love for water. I rekindled my romance with it, making it my main source of hydration. It’s been years now and I’m happy with my choice. Nobody likes the shakes, yo.
BUT! The thing is, sometimes… I want a drink of soda. I realized that more than sugar and caffeine – What I really love about soda is the carbonation. And so when that soda monkey is on my back I make my own. I make an assortment of simple syrups which I store in my fridge. I pull one out, add seltzer to it and bang – Shot to the vein – I’m good.
This zesty orange soda is like that shot to the vein. A citrusy one. With an orange simple syrup, muddled oranges, and topped with seltzer water – It will calm down that Soda Baboon holding on with that tight Kung Fu Grip. No, it’s not the caramelized sugary goodness of commercial brands. It’s a fresher situation. It’s delicious. It’s much healthier because you regulate the sugar by adding as much or as little simple syrup as you like. You can also add as many orange slices as you want. And trust, when those oranges start to release their oils it’s like nose nirvana. I do urge you to fizz it up, ‘cause that’s the bestest part.
Get yo’ fizz on.
Make the orange syrup:
In a medium saucepan combine orange juice, zest, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil over medium/high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture has a light syrup consistency. Remove from heat and allow to steep for about an hour. Strain the zest and store the syrup in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Makes about 2 1/2 cups of orange syrup
Make the orange soda:
To a tall glass add quartered orange pieces. Muddle with a muddler or back of a wooden spoon until the orange releases its juice and fragrance. Add the simple syrup, followed by the ice. Give it a quick stir and top with seltzer.