DIY Orange Soda

diyorangesodaOrange Crush, Sunkist and other kinds of orange soda are great, even if they taste more like orange the color than like orange the fruit. DIY orange soda has the same mix of sweet and tart as the store-bought stuff, only with the flavor of real oranges.

The citric acid is key to getting that sharp flavor associated with the real-deal orange soda, but it also extends shelf life a little. Leave it out if you like, but then this won’t be as tart and will taste more like OJ than Orange Crush and its kin.

DIY Orange Soda

Zest of 2 navel oranges
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon citric acid

Zest the oranges. Be sure to avoid including any of the white pith. Juice one orange and strain out the pulp. Combine the zest, juice, sugar, water and citric acid in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, then let it cool. Refrigerate the cooled syrup and then mix one part syrup with three parts seltzer for each serving.

Adjust the amount of seltzer to taste. I suggest mixing on a glass-by-glass basis and storing the syrup separately, unmixed.

The recipe I created and posted here was first published on Serious Eats in my DIY vs. Buy column

Watermelon Cocktails

watermelonrumcocktailEven though summer isn’t here yet, warm summer weather is. If you’re ready for backyard barbecues, here are some watermelon cocktails perfect for a day in the sun.

Watermelon Fizz ~ Watermelon and gin … a match made in heaven.

Artemisia ~ Tarragon and watermelon are another fun pairing, with the slightly savory herb giving depth to the cocktail.

Watermelon Limoncello Prosecco Slushie ~ The name says it all. I’m ready for this one right now!

Watermelon Tequila Cocktail ~ Blueberries and lime add a little tartness to this fun summer drink.

Watermelon and Thai Chili Cocktail ~ This rum cocktail is refreshing with a bit of a kick.

Photo Courtesy of Brugal

Tomato Martini

Store-bought tomatoes can’t compete with the ones grown in a home garden. My two tomato plants are producing like mad. But I’m not complaining! Sweet, juicy tomatoes can go in everything, even cocktails. For something lighter than a Bloody Mary, I like the Tomato Martini. Tomato is right at home with the garden flavors and scents of gin! Add a little vermouth and Lillet, and you’re ready for garden Happy Hour!

Tomato Martini

2 ounces tomato-infused gin*
1/2 ounce extra dry vermouth
1 splash Lillet Blanc

Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice and stir, then strain into chilled cocktail glass. Optional: Garnish with cherry tomatoes speared on a toothpick

*Tomato-infused Gin

1 part London dry gin
1 part ripe tomato

Chop tomato into chunks, place in sealable glass jar, and then pour gin on top. Seal and shake. Let steep at room temperature away from direct sunlight for one day. Taste to see if desired flavor is achieved. If not, let steep for an additional day. (One large tomato is about 1 cup chopped. So using 1 cup of gin and 1 cup tomato makes enough infused gin for four drinks.)

Photo by Jackson Stakeman