Last week while eating at L.A.'s Mac and Cheeza restaurant, I had the good fortune to try this cucumber-flavored soda:
Lemme tell ya–while the macaroni and cheese I had for lunch was really good, this soda was amazing. To quote an old Outkast ditty, it was “so fresh and so clean.” I instantly became mildly obsessed with it–I googled it when I got home, and found that it's not really a readily available drink you can buy in many stores. You can order Mr. Q. Cumber soda online, but the $2 a bottle plus shipping leaves a little to be desired in these trying economic times. When I saw the price tag this new drink obsession was going to cost me, the question I was asking quickly shifted from “where can I get more of this?” to the much craftier “how can I make this myself?”
Enter the Internet! I spent some time researching how to make flavored sodas, and discovered that for the most part it's really just a matter of cooking up a batch of simple syrup (a.k.a. sugar water), flavoring that, and mixing it with some club soda. The upside of spending a little time to making this soda yourself? For the cost of one bottle of Mr. Q. Cumber soda, you can get the supplies together to make multiple glasses of your own handcrafted drinks!
After the jump, learn the steps to create this cool, refreshing summer drink.
First up, gather your ingredients:
– 1 bottle of club soda
– 1 cucumber (Extra credit to you if you grow your own!)
– 2 cups of sugar
– 2 cups of water
Peel that cucumber, and grate about one half cup of it. Save the other half of the cucumber for fancy glass garnishes to wow your friends!
Using a whisk, mix the sugar and water together in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Your sugar should fully dissolve in the water. Once it's a full rolling boil, let it cook for 1 more minute and remove from heat.
On the next page, let's mix it all up!
Throw your grated cucumber in a bowl, and pour that still-hot sugar water over it. Cover the bowl with Saran Wrap (or any brand of plastic wrap, we're not picky!) and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, strain out all the cucumber bits and pour your newly-flavored simple syrup into a bottle or some kind of container to… you know… contain it. It'll stay good for about two weeks.
From this point, you could go two ways. You could put your cucumber simple syrup and club soda into the fridge and let them chill before you enjoy them, or you could employ your good friend ice and a shaker to mix up a drink immediately. Being that I made up this batch on the 4th of July, I opted for the drink it now choice and packed up my ingredients to take to my friend Gayle's house.
To mix up your cucumber soda, pour some of the simple syrup into a cocktail shaker with some ice. Shake that up to get the syrup nice and cold, and pour it into a glass with ice in it. Then top it off with the soda water and you're good to go!
The amount of simple syrup you'll use in each glass of soda depends on how much flavor you want–I like a good strong cucumber presence, so I added 4-5 tablespoons of syrup for my drink. If you find that's too strong, cut it back to 2-3 tablespoons of syrup.
I'm really excited to try out this flavored simple syrup technique on other homemade sodas – strawberry, watermelon, pineapple… The possibilities are endless! What kind of soda will you try to make?