Ever since Atlanta pharmacist John S Pemberton came up with the recipe for a “health tonic” called cola back in 1886, people around the world have been enjoying the sweet beverage from all different sorts of manufacturers, each offering a unique take on the original recipe.
One of the best colas we’ve tried recently comes from a Japanese craft cola producer called Iyoshi, whose owner, Cola Kobayashi, not only makes each batch up by hand, but packages it up in cute bags for customers.
After seeing him in action at Tokyo’s U.N. Farmers’ Market a couple of years ago, we’d always been keen to try our hand at making a craft cola of our own. So, after doing a lot of research into what makes the best cola and trying out a number of recipes, we’ve finally hit upon what we believe is the best recipe, which we’re sharing with you here today!
All you need is a knife, a chopping board, a pot and a stovetop. And the following ingredients:
Ingredients (makes 500 milliliters of cola syrup)
Water – 400 milliliters
Sugar – 400 grams
Whole cardamom – 20 pods or 3 grams
Cloves – 40 whole or 4 grams
Cinnamon – three sticks
Vanilla – half a bean
Lemons – two, unwaxed
1. First, prepare the spices: Fold the cinnamon stick in half and take the seeds out from the cardamom and vanilla beans. Be careful not to discard the skin of the vanilla bean as this also counts as one of the ingredients.
Cardamom pods are very hard, so take care when opening them. By cutting the edge of the pod with kitchen scissors, the seeds can be taken out safely and cleanly.
2. The next thing to do is prepare the lemons by juicing and slicing them, and you’re ready to go.
3. Place all the ingredients, except the lemon juice, into a pot and simmer on a low to medium heat for about ten minutes, or until the mixture becomes syrupy.
▼ As it simmers, the wonderful scent of spices fills the air.
4. Turn the heat off, add the lemon juice and let it sit overnight.
▼ After a night of steeping, the mixture will be darker and the aroma stronger than the day before.
5. The final step involves straining the mixture with a strainer and your craft cola is complete.
Homemade cola syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks or in the freezer for four weeks.
Mix the syrup with carbonated water for a refreshing craft cola with a beautiful pale hue. It looks especially enticing when served with a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint, but…how does it taste?
Personally, we think it’s the best cola we’ve ever tasted. Nothing beats the fresh flavors you get when it’s made at home, and the combination of lemon and spice is absolutely delectable. It tastes like something you’d be served at a fashionable restaurant or cafe, and the friends and family members we served it to couldn’t believe we’d made such a great-tasting beverage from scratch!
Another great way to enjoy the syrup is by using it as a yoghurt topping. The tartness of the yoghurt hides the cola flavor but brings out the lemon and spices, making for a delicious sweet snack.
Now that we know how to make a craft cola as good as this, we can’t go back to buying artificially flavored colas at the store ever again.
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