Sugar is the backbone of any great cocktail. A sugar syrup can transform a drink from tasting thin and dry into a cocktail thick with velvety texture. While many simple syrups call for a base of water, I love using flavored sodas as the base of my syrups because they can add quick, clean flavor that may not translate as well as an infused syrup.
Think about all the soda out there these days. From classics like Cock ‘n Bull Ginger Beer and Ting Grapefruit Soda to new small batch sodas such as Fever Tree’s Sparkling Grapefruit , there seems to be a carbonated version of just about any flavor you can dream up. This is why making syrups out of soda not only creates a jazzed up texture, but it also does a phenomenal job of making otherwise hard to find flavors extremely accessible.
Think of the last time you tried to find fresh lavender. When was the last time you tried to find fresh lavender? Mine was about a week ago, and let me tell you, it was harder than I thought. It isn’t; an ingredient that you can just run into the closest grocery store to grab, and while I love the local pharmacy that sells it, they have store hours that don’t always work for my schedule, especially when I’m hit with a stroke of cocktail inspiration at 9pm on a Saturday, long after they’ve closed for the weekend. My local grocery store, however, carries a commercially made “small batch” lavender soda that has gorgeous flavor and is almost always in stock.
Flavored sodas are also significantly more forgiving than the fresh version of their main ingredient. Lavender, for example, can quickly turn from being a fresh, lovely floral flavor to tasting almost exactly like soap if you aren’t careful. I’ve ruined more than one batch of lavender syrup by infusing it too long or heating it too high over the stove. Elderflower is another popular flavor that can be tricky to get right when using the real blossoms—but this elderflower soda syrup yields consistent results in a much shorter amount of time. Because there is already sugar in the soda, you also don’t have to add as much granulated sugar in these syrups as a traditional version.
No matter what flavor you’re excited about, you can probably find a flavored soda to substitute into a simple syrup to add to your favorite cocktails!