Anton Nocito founded P&H Soda Co. to bring his love of fresh sodas made from real ingredients to everyone (including Martha Stewart, who loved his cream soda so much she invited him on her show to demonstrate how to make the syrup). Now, with the publication of Make Your Own Soda: Syrup Recipes for All-Natural Pop, Floats, Cocktails, and More, Nocito gives home cooks the tools to do just that, with recipes for dozens of flavors of syrups to mix with seltzer for sodas or to use in cocktails. See the review on page 95.
Why would anyone want to make their own soda?
Aside from the fact that it’s just fun to explore new flavors and how they can be great with a little fizz, there’s a big movement to consume more natural and fewer mass-produced products. Beverages, soda in particular, are something that people really don’t understand. I think the book breaks down how easy it is to make something new and refreshing that people would be happy to serve to their families again and again. Making it at home gives you the ability to control what you and your family consume.
What does the process involve? Will people who want to follow your recipes need specialized equipment or ingredients? What kind of time commitment does making your own soda involve?
A lot of the recipes in this book are pretty basic, they don’t require much time or work. Some are a matter of measuring out sugar and water, bringing them to a boil, and dropping some herbs in. There are some more complex recipes for people who want to take things a little further but overall I created this book with the home cook in mind. I think anyone who likes to play around in the kitchen at all will enjoy the simplicity of the book and will have fun making the syrups.
Some of the recipes include small sidebars with information about the history of soda, or about one of the more unusual ingredients. Is there anything you learned when researching the book that really surprised you?
I think the most interesting thing I learned is that most sodas, from early on, were artificially composed. Druggists would combine chemicals to imitate flavors as well as add things to get people high or make them feel “better.” It’s kind of interesting that the industry is built around getting people hooked—on caffeine, on energy-inducing additives or on the idea that they are getting their daily intake of vitamins. That being said, if you take matters into your own hands and make something from real, fresh, wholesome ingredients it can be better than anything you can buy at the store that was invented by someone in a lab coat.
What recipes would you suggest for an entry-level soda maker?
I would say start with the basic lemon or lime. Citrus is as simple and gratifying as can be. The herb- and spice-based recipes are fairly easy as well. This book was written to be a guideline, but I would love to see people experimenting with different combinations that aren’t in the book once they feel comfortable.—Stephanie Klose, Library Journal