Italian soda is a refreshing drink, especially perfect on a warm, sunny day. Despite it’s name, this drink was actually invented in San Francisco’s North Beach, not in Italy. It gets its name from the flavored syrups that originated in Italy that are used to make it. The drink is simply flavored syrup mixed with carbonated water served in a tall glass with ice. Add a splash of cream and it becomes an Italian cream soda or cremosa. Either way, an Italian soda is a nice alternative to store-bought soft drinks.
They can be made with a wide variety of flavors. Homemade syrups or bottled brands like Torani may be used. I made a homemade raspberry-basil syrup for these. The savory hint of basil may not be for everyone, but I liked the contrast to the sweetness of the syrup it provided. Have fun by combining your own favorite flavors for the syrups. How about strawberries and rhubarb, blackberry and mint, or lemons and thyme instead?
While I specified amounts of each of the ingredients in the recipe below, ratios can easily be adjusted to suit your personal taste.
Raspberry-Basil Italian Soda
Yields 1 serving
ice, either cubes or crushed
1 1/2 – 2 ounces homemade raspberry-basil syrup, or to taste (recipe below)
6 – 8 ounces club soda or sparkling water
splash of cream or half and half, or to taste (optional)
2-3 raspberries, for garnish
sprig of basil, for garnish
Fill a tall glass half full with ice. Pour the raspberry-basil syrup. Add club soda or sparkling water. Pour in cream, if using. Stir, and adjust to taste by adding more syrup or club soda.
Garnish with a few whole raspberries and a sprig of basil.
Raspberry-Basil Simple Syrup
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 pound raspberries, washed
1/2 to 3/4 cup tightly packed basil leaves, to taste
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water and cook over high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add raspberries. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until slightly thickened.
Remove from heat and add basil leaves. Steep basil leaves in raspberry syrup until cooled, about 1 hour. Strain syrup through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding basil and fruit solids. Cover the syrup and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Syrup will keep for 2-3 days.
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