I’m buried under cheap, excellent winter citrus and before it ends, I want to bottle every flavor. Everyone’s making seltzer at home, but the commercially available soda syrups are gross, so here’s an easy and inexpensive way to make your own. These also lend themselves to crafting epic highballs, spritzers and even work in beer cocktails.


Notes: Citrus is different (in acidity, juiciness and thickness of skin) from one bin to the next, so the numbers below are guidelines and you may need more or less depending on your fruit. Store in the refrigerator in sealed glass containers for up to two weeks, or significantly longer if you add a shot of vodka to the finished product.

Bitter Lemon

Less available in the US, I’ve almost exclusively consumed Bitter Lemon from the drinks cart on international flights. This recipe also works wonderfully with blood oranges, and an additional teaspoon or two of citric acid.

  • 3 whole lemons, pulped in a blender
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon citric acid
  • 1 tablespoon cinchona bark chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon szechuan peppercorns


Combine all ingredients in small saucepan over medium heat. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain, cool and bottle (makes about a pint). Mix 1 part syrup with 2-3 parts soda water.

Grapefruit Soda Syrup

  • 4 small, whole ruby grapefruits, chopped and pulped in a blender
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons citric acid
  • 1 tablespoon dried galangal (or substitute a teaspoon of dried ginger powder)


Combine all ingredients in small saucepan over medium heat. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain, cool and bottle (makes about 3 cups). Mix 1 part syrup with 4-5 parts soda water.

Lime Cordial

  • 8 ripe limes
  • 1 cup sugar


  • 1. Remove zest from limes with a Microplane or carefully with a vegetable peeler.
  • 2. Grind together the zest and sugar using a muddler or mortar and pestle, then let stand at least 30 minutes.
  • 3. Juice the limes into the zesty sugar and either stir vigorously until sugar is dissolved, or heat gently and stir until the same result is achieved.
  • 4. Refrigerate 12 hours or longer before straining through a fine mesh and bottling.

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