If you have a soda addiction you’re trying to kick, seltzer alone might not quite do it. But seltzer plus natural syrups can be great healthier soda alternatives.
Seltzer is all the rage right now thanks to LaCroix, Polar, and a bunch of other brands—and that’s before you even get to hard seltzer‘s recent spike in popularity. Obviously, you should save the spiked seltzer for the evening, but drinking slightly essenced non-alcoholic seltzer might not be enough sweetness to power through the hours beforehand if you’re used to drinking a couple cans of Coke a day. Enter: the syrups you’d typically use for cocktails.
Related Reading: What Is Hard Seltzer?
These are slim bottles of thickly concentrated flavor like ginger, berry, or even cola that you can add at your own pace to your favorite plain seltzer. Too often with sodas prepared for us, we have no idea how much sugar is going into our drinks. If you add your own syrup, you can control the amount, and taste along the way.
If it’s your New Year’s resolution to wean yourself off of Coke, it’ll be easier if you can have something else you like that’s just a little less sweet.
SodaStream Jet Sparkling Water Maker, $73.99 on Amazon
Make your own seltzer all year long.
Here are some syrups you can try, whether you want to DIY or leave it up to someone else.
You can make your own simple syrup (literally just a syrup combining sugar and water) when you abide by a “simple” 2:1 ratio of water to sugar. Add a cup of sugar to a cup of water and heat on low, until the sugar is dissolved. Then add a second cup and heat until the syrup thickens. You can add a splash of vodka as a preservative. To make flavored syrup, add lemon zest, berries, or herbs to the mixture when warming.
Adding fresh rhubarb gives you a nice balance of tang and sweetness. Get our Rhubarb Syrup recipe.
Another nicely tart option so you’re not overwhelmed by sugar. Get our Cranberry Simple Syrup recipe.
If you prefer a bit of spicy bite, cinnamon-infused syrup is a great choice. Get our Cinnamon Syrup recipe.
Best Syrups to Buy
If you’d rather leave the work to the professionals, these are some great store-bought syrup options.
More Good is based in Beacon, NY and they make syrups in all kinds of nuanced, interesting flavors, from Jalapeño Black Tea to Hibiscus Rooibos. Additionally, More Good does annual fundraisers to provide clean water to areas of the planet that desperately need it. Their syrups are on the more expensive side ($13 a bottle) but if you’re buying packs of soda for yourself, it’ll definitely end up being less expensive in the long run.Buy Now
If you’ve ever been to a Bed Bath and Beyond, you’ve probably been pitched buying a SodaStream machine, a carbon dioxide canister, and one of the big, friendly looking jugs of syrup. These come in off-brand, not copyright infringement names, like Dr. Pete’s and Fountain Mist. So if you’re looking for that Dr. Pepper or Sprite taste, you can definitely find it with the SodaStream brand. They also have essences (like you’d find in a LaCroix) called “waters” and fruit flavorings called “fruit drops,” as well.Buy Now
Visited an Italian style cafe recently? The baristas are probably making flavored coffee and teas by using Torani syrup. It comes in giant bottles with a wide variety of flavors from Blue Raspberry to Orange. Not as nuanced as More Good, but worth it if you are going to go through a ton of the stuff.Buy Now
Chef Andy Ricker has lit up New York City and Portland with his authentic Thai food, and has made an entire business off of Thai drinking vinegars, sold in Whole Foods. Vinegar has been known to kickstart and cleanse your digestive system and Chef Ricker combines apple cider vinegar with fruit flavors like Tamarind to give your seltzer a spicy, acidic kick. This is next-level soda.Buy Now
Header image by Chowhound.