In the latter half of the 18th century, carbon dioxide was introduced into water creating soda water or seltzer. (Interesting food fact - the origin of the name seltzer hails from water that had natural effervescence and came from the town of Nieder Selters in Germany.) Today, anyone can make fizzy water at home and can vary the degree of the fizz and the amount of bubbles in each glass. Personalizing soda water may sound a bit bourgeois, but I liken myself to a soda water connoisseur and find most people have a preference. I like a slight, small bubble. My sister's family prefers big, round bubbles that explode in the mouth. All five of my nieces and nephews are soda water snobs - slightly flat and they turn up their nose. I've been coveting a SodaStream for years and finally got my hands on my very own machine. This SodaStream Play comes with the options of wrapping in 'skins' of various designs - or you can customize your own skin by uploading an image of your choice. I picked the NY skyline - an homage to my roots and Eli the Seltzer Guy in Brooklyn, who used to deliver soda water to our brownstone monthly - a wooden crate full of handblown glass bottles that were made in the 30s and hail from Czechoslovakia. Incidentally, he fills the bottles at an old seltzer factory in Canarsie, where my father and all of my aunts, uncles and cousins grew up.
This nostalgic feeling likely influenced my choice in first experiment - a chocolate egg cream. Egg creams are a thing of the past, though you can find them in vintage east coast delis. The Townhouse Diner in Honesdale, PA (by my dad's house) serves them still, with no hint at irony. Egg creams have big bubbles, so I used 6 compressions on the SodaStream Play to achieve a strong, vibrant bubble.
While they're traditionally made with a heavy chocolate syrup, I made my version with a dark, organic cocoa powder. 2 cups whole milk + 1/2 cup cocoa powder + 1/2 cup vanilla sugar - heat this up over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and cocoa powder is well blended, then cool completely. For really creamy soda, make this with half & half.
1 part chocolate milk : 2 part SodaStream soda
Given the autumnal energy in the air, I also decided on a cider beverage of some kind. I was gifted a gallon of TreeTop apple juice in honor of National Apple Month, so decided it was high time to use it. Mulled apple juice pairs well with bourbon, so that was the jumping off point. I wanted to veer from super traditional mulling spices, so opted for lavender - a heavy floral note with an earthy undertone. Once the juice is steeped with aromatics and cooled, the only trick is nailing the proportions. This cocktail was a crowd pleaser - all my girlfriends sat around sipping and singing the praises of autumn. I wanted a soft sparkle here, so I used 3 compressions on the SodaStream Play to achieve a gentle, small bubble.
: Apple-Lavender Fizz : 2 cups apple juice, or cider 3 tablespoons fresh or dried lavender buds 2 thin slices fresh ginger root 1 tablespoon cloves 1 tablespoon allspice 10 cardamom pods 1 cinnamon stick
Place a small saucepan over medium high heat, and add the juice and spices. Bring to a boil and reduce heat slightly, allowing the apple juice to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Strain the spices, pressing into the solids to release any juice, and serve.
1 part bourbon : 2 part juice : 1 part SodaStream soda
I also rimmed the glass with "apple powder" - essentially dehydrated apples that I pulverized with a bit of sugar. The moisture gives it a molasses-like consistency, though the apple flavor shines through.
Because I was on a roll and had company over, I whipped up an easy, refreshing non-alcoholic drink using frozen fruit juice as a base. It's smart to keep a container of this juice around (opt for an organic company, which won't use high fructose corn syrup) for quick beverages - a good pantry staple. Rather then blending with water, I used SodaStream Play soda water resulting in a light, effervescent drink. You could of course add a splash of vodka. I had some Blood Orange vodka from 3 Howls Distillery and it worked beautifully together.
1 part frozen lemon concentrate : 4 part SodaStream soda
For this lemon-thyme fizz, I wanted major bubble action, (the bubbles have to lift the syrup, which is heavy) so I used 8 compressions on the SodaStream Play. Worked like a charm.
The SodaStream Play comes with a selection of syrups, too, for anyone wanting a pure soda option.I have more experiments going now, so stay tuned for more. There is this pineapple fermentation thing that my friend declared "tastes like colors," which is a pretty spot on assessment.
[This is a sponsored post. All personal commentary, stories and recipes are original content, written by me at my discretion and whim.]