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Expert Guide

The 5 Soda Commandments

DIY Ginger-Lemongrass Soda. © Quentin Bacon

There is a lot going on in the world of soda, like the Diet Coke Flirt Machine in London, and the 146-flavor Freestyle vending machine. There’s enough going on that it’s time to take stock and offer up these new soda commandments. 

1. Think Low-Sugar Sodas
Recently, a new crop of carbonated beverages have appeared, and they boast low sugar and no artificial chemicals. Organic Oogavé sodas are sweetened with agave and come in flavors like watermelon-cream, strawberry-rhubarb and mandarin–Key lime. Dry Soda Co. creates super-refreshing beverages that clock in at less than 70 calories per serving and have about 25 to 30 percent of the amount of sugar that typical soda does. Plus, the Seattle-based company supports local farms by sponsoring events in the Pacific Northwest. Fizzy Lizzy’s beverages consist solely of fruit juice and carbonated water, with no added sugars, in fun flavors like Fuji apple, grapefruit and tangerine–passion fruit. 

2. DIY Your Sodas
Thanks to at-home carbonators like the SodaStream and the SodaSparkle, DIY–soda and seltzer is super popular these days. If you really want to step up your homemade soda game, try all-natural syrups from the Brooklyn-based P&H Soda Co. in flavors like hibiscus, ginger and sarsaparilla or an Old Fashioned Soda Kit, which comes with flip-top glass bottles, stainless steel straws and funnel and a choice of syrup (choose from lemon, pomegranate, root beer or cherry cola). Shortcut: Mix syrups or flavorings with store-bought seltzer.

3. Make Carbonated Cocktails
If you do have an at-home soda maker, it probably includes strict warnings not to carbonate anything but plain water. But innovators like Piper Kristensen and Dave Arnold of Booker & Dax and Gregory Brainin of Jean-Georges Restaurants group, are experimenting with other liquids, like fruit juice, wine and other alcohols (think carbonated Negronis or herb-infused soda). Read more on how to hack your soda machine here.

4. Go Retro
Once upon a time, cities had soda fountains like the Corner Pharmacy in Leavenworth, Kansas. And now, some have them again. Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain fully embraces old-fashioned drinks like house-made coffee soda, and chocolate and vanilla egg creams. If you’re not in Brooklyn, the new Farmacy cookbook, The Soda Fountain: Floats, Sundaes, Egg Creams & More, will no doubt be helpful. 

5. Forget Straws (unless they’re sustainable)
Mario Batali and his restaurant group made headlines recently when they announced their plan to institute a “straws upon request policy” in all of their restaurants. They also replaced plastic straws with compostable paper ones, and plastic stirrers with bamboo. The group’s sustainability guru, Elizabeth Meltz, launched this initiative after estimating that Batali restaurants went through more than 250,000 straws and stirrers per year, and came up with this initiative to reduce plastic waste. Of course, there are great eco-options for home mixologists as well: metal, glass or compostable paper straws. (The metal ones have become an obsession with my F&W colleagues.) 

Related: 7 Homemade Sodas That Are Perfect for Summer
26 Refreshing Summer Drinks
12 Drinks For a Crowd

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