Not Coca Cola Syrup
When one has given up a glass of wine with dinner during the week for whatever reason, it may be that you’re thinking of your schoolgirl figure, it may be that your husband has gone on a health kick and you’ve decided to be uncharacteristically supportive rather than making his favourite biscuits all the time, where was I? Oh yes, one still feels the need to have something a little special with dinner as a reward for not skinning anyone alive during the day. What I’ve been in the mood for lately and have only just got around to making today is homemade cola.
This is one of those more complicated recipes that you have to be full of energy and optimism to make. You need such fancy things as a Microplane grater (the fine one) and some muslin. I started off with the classic recipe published by the New York Times last year, which I could make you go and look up, but I guess I’ll be kind and list it here. Then I’ll tell you what I actually did.
Grated zest of two oranges
Grated zest of one large or two small limes
Grated zest of a lemon
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 point of a star anise, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
2 teaspoons minced ginger
A one and a half inch piece of vanilla pod, split
1/4 teaspoon citric acid
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Bung everything except the sugar and citric acid in a saucepan with two cups of water. Simmer gently covered for twenty minutes. Place the sugar and citric acid in a bowl, top with a sieve lined with a double layer of muslin. Pour the concoction through the sieve and squeeze all the fluid out. Stir the syrup while it’s still hot to dissolve the sugar. To serve you put a quarter of a cup of syrup in a tall glass and top up with soda water.
This is a pretty good recipe as it stands. There’s a bit of a treasure hunt involved for ingredients, but once you have them you have a summer’s worth of cola. I get out the Microplane first and do the zesting, the nutmeg and the ginger straight into the saucepan. Today I used a large pink grapefruit instead of the two oranges, and I think I prefer it. I use half a cinnamon stick in place of the pinch in the recipe. I felt that it needed a little more gravitas, so added a tablespoon of ground coffee to the saucepan as well. I also use a full teaspoon of citric acid, I think it makes it zippier. I simmer it for about an hour, which probably doesn’t make a great deal of difference.