Soda three ways

Blackberry Mint Soda, Strawberry, Basil and Lemon Soda and Spicy Ginger Soda

I read about the trend of restaurants making their own sodas in the latest bon appetit and was intrigued. I decided I’d give it a shot soon. Moments after that, I thought, “Oh boy — I can add lots of vodka when I make mine!” Moments after that, I was at the grocery store. Moments after that, I was making this video for you so you can make your own, too. All told, these were some pretty productive moments.

I decided to try bon appetit’s Strawberry, Lemon and Basil Soda and Spicy Ginger Soda recipes. Then I created my own — a Blackberry Mint Soda.  The idea here is simple enough: take fresh fruits, herbs and spices and bring soda water to life with their flavors. I used a different technique for each — muddling the ingredients, making a puree and making a simple syrup. This is easy stuff, and definitely worth doing. Mashing strawberries and basil in a glass with some lemon juice, sugar and salt takes but a few moments.

There’s nothing special about the soda water here, either. It may be called seltzer water or sparkling water. Club soda works, too, if you can’t find those, but it may have a slight flavoring to it, whereas soda water is just carbonated water.

I shot a taste test with a very special guest for these three sodas; I’ll have that video ready for you soon. But suffice to say, my Blackberry Mint Soda was an experiment and an attempt to compare the muddling method with the pureeing method. Truth be told, next time around, I’m just going to muddle everything in the glass or make a simple syrup. The puree took a few extra steps that didn’t add much to the flavor or texture.

Blackberry Mint Soda (in the video)
Puree 2 pints of fresh blackberries. Pour two tablespoons of the puree into a glass, rip up six mint leaves, fill the glass with ice, fill with soda water and top with a shot of vodka.

Blackberry Mint Soda (just do it this way)
Muddle eight blackberries, a tablespoon of sugar and six mint leaves in a glass. Fill the glass with ice, fill with soda water and stir to chill. Strain into another glass filled with ice (unless you’re fine with a chunky soda … . (I am.)). Top with a shot of vodka.

Before shooting this video, I asked on Facebook and Twitter what flavors I should make. Two flavors that piqued my interest: pear cardamom and lavender lemonade. What flavors of soda would you make?


Let’s talk about you.

Tequila Target

Cory and Carrie from Midwest Gluten Free sent this my way after giving my Tequila Fresca idea a shot.

Say, there’s a reason you get top billing in the name of this blog. I think you’re great. What you’re wearing today makes you look really good, too. What you wore last Wednesday wasn’t so hot, but the fact that I can tell you these things just shows what great friends we’ve become.

So, great friend, I want to get to know you better. You’ve been in my kitchen. What’s happening in yours? Have you made that Thai-Inspired Butternut Squash Soup yet? Or Tequila Fresca? Or nacho?

If you have, I want to hear about it. And I’d love to see it, too. I was overjoyed to receive this photo from Cory and Carrie, who run Midwest Gluten Free, a great resource for anyone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Cory and Carrie started the site after learning their daughter has celiac disease.

Cory and Carrie gave my Tequila Fresca idea a shot, and then discovered something they said was even closer to the taste of an actual margarita. They subbed Peach Fresca with some sugar-free packets of lime margarita drink mix from Target, and were very pleased with the results.

So here’s where you come in: What’s your favorite cheap, easy-to-make drink? Share a photo or recipe on the brand new You’re In My Kitchen Facebook Page, e-mail them to me at or  leave your recipe below.

No judgment here, people. You’ve seen me drink vodka from jugs through straws.

If Cory and Carrie have already discovered a new take on Tequila Fresca, imagine what we can all do if we work together. That’s right — we are going to save the world. And we’ll need some cocktail ideas before we take that on.

Happy National Margarita Day!

Tequila Fresca

Tequila Fresca!

It’s a big day. I hope you’re celebrating and honoring the margarita properly. I did. Twice.

You probably know that there are a shocking number of calories in margaritas made with sweet and sour. I’ve had a cheap and easy solution for years: Tequila Fresca.

Are you ready?

Go buy some Peach Fresca, tequila, sea salt and straws. I’m assuming you have ice and a glass at home. If you don’t, get those too. I apologize for making assumptions about you.

Put the Fresca and tequila (however much you like — I won’t judge you) on the rocks. You can rim the glass with salt if you like, but I often just throw a pinch right in. Stir it. Drink it. Enjoy.

You can also buy the cheapest tequila you can find. Again, I won’t judge you. But please be warned: There is something called tequila-flavored liqueur out there. Satan made it. Avoid it. I fell for it. Once.

Why do this? Well, like  I said, it’s cheap and easy. Plus:

A margarita has 740 calories. Seven. Hundred. And. Forty.

My Tequila Fresca? There are roughly 104 calories for every 1.5 oz. of tequila you use. Fresca has zero calories. And for some reason, it’s marketed as an “adult soda,” so that just adds to the … magic. We’ll call that magic.

Now we have 636 extra calories to play with. You’re welcome.

Aperitif … from a jug.

Oh, hey. Thanks so much for all of your kind words and support so far. I’m so glad you’re here in my kitchen. Stay for a while.

I thought for your first real glimpse into my kitchen, I’d offer an aperitif of sorts before a full-on cooking demo. But I believe in generous portions. So this aperitif comes in two jugs.

Last week, I infused two types of vodka — a blood orange vodka and a cucumber vodka. I’ll show you how to do that quite soon so you can start experimenting with your own flavors.

But let’s cut to the chase: The fun part about infusing your own vodka is the taste-testing. In the spirit of really having you in my kitchen, I offer you my first video — unscripted, off-the-cuff chit-chat with you as I prepare food and drinks.