If you want to impress a girl with your cooking, make something nobody else does, like sage-flavored soda. If you really, REALLY want to impress a girl with your cooking, offer her some sweets, like sage-flavored soda. Our resident hot chef Rochelle Bilow offers us this simple recipe to make your own soda-pop flavors that’s as easy as boiling water.
Oh, but that’s not all; she pairs your chemistry with some cocktail recipes you can make to place tasty alcohol in your beloved’s hand while murmuring, “Try this. It’s a concoction of gin, soda of my own making…and love.” Then explain that the love is metaphorical, and that you love her. This is, presumably, further along in your relationship. You know what? Skip the love thing entirely. Sugar will say it for you.
I used to be a diet soda addict. If it had bubbles, zero calories and came in a sleek silver can with red writing, I was totally all over it. I averaged a few a day, replacing water or milk with the syrupy sweet stuff or using it as an afternoon pick-me-up.
I’ve since kicked the habit (as well as the proverbial can), choosing instead more natural means of refreshment. Now, that’s not to say you won’t ever catch me blowing bubbles of sugar-free gum or downing a mint to combat a serious case of dragon breath, but for the most part I try to avoid artificial sweeteners.
That means that diet soda is out, but truth be told, I don’t even miss it anymore. There’s an unpleasant mouth-coating and metallic tang that lingers long after your last sip of diet soda, one that’s often combatted with a piece of gum; you see how this can quickly become cyclic.
But every once in a while I crave the nose-tickling effervescence of a glass of soda, and for that I turn to what has become my most recent culinary obsession: infused simple syrups. Simple syrups are badass for a variety of reasons, first being that, as advertised in their nomenclature, they’re ludicrously easy to make. Second, they can be flavored with just about anything, and third, they dissolve easily into liquid, making you the perfect combination of culinary mastermind and mixologist. Now that’s sexy.
I’ve been experimenting with herb-infused syrups, mostly because the combination of bitterness and vegetal sweetness of them makes my taste buds feel all sophisticated and grown up. The basic rule of thumb for simple syrup is to combine sugar and water in a 1:2 ratio, add whatever flavoring you want then bring it to a boil and cool it down. After that, you strain out the flavoring agent and use it as needed (yes, “in a cocktail” counts as “as needed.”)
Sure, it’s still soda but the fact that you concocted it makes it at least a little bit healthier, right? Right?
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup sage leaves
- Zest/peel of 1 lemon
- 1 quart unflavored sparkling or seltzer water
Special equipment needed: sieve or strainer
Combine the 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar in a small saucepot.
Lay the sage leaves out on a cutting board or flat surface. Using the back end of a knife, press down on the leaves to “bruise” them and better release their flavor and scent. Add the leaves to the sugar-water mixture.
Use a sharp paring knife to cut away the lemon peel, or use a grater. Add that to the mixture as well.
Place the mixture on the stovetop over medium heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool completely, at least 45 minutes.
Once cooled, the mixture will have thickened. Strain out the sage leaves and lemon zest using a sieve or strainer. Discard the leaves.
Pour the sparkling water into a pitcher and add in the sage syrup, a little bit at a time, until you reach the sweetness of your liking. Enjoy over ice.
- 1½ ounces Hendricks gin (or other “floral” style gin)
- 4 ounces sage-flavored soda
- 1 orange peel
- 4-8 sage leaves
In a rocks glass over ice, combine the gin and soda. Stir gently to mix.
Twist an orange peel over the glass to release its oils, then set on the rim and serve.
Bonus points: freeze the sage leaves in ice cubes 2-3 hours before making the drink. Oh-so-cool.
See what happened when the kid gloves came off and the chicken gloves went on that time Rochelle butchered her own chicken dinner. –>