Italian soda is a drink made from carbonated water, sugar (usually in the form of a syrup) and flavoring.
The flavoring is often a fruit flavor such as strawberry or blueberry, a dessert flavor such as chocolate or an aperitif flavor such as amaretto.
A variation on the Italian soda includes cream or half-and-half poured on top of the mixed soda. This is sometimes called a creamosa or Italian cream soda, or a French soda.
The flavoring for Italian soda can be made at home or purchased already made. Italian soda did not originate in Italy, as you might expect, but was invented in the United States by Italian Americans.
Read on to learn how to make Italian soda.
How To Make Italian Soda At Home
Italian soda is simple to make at home. You may be able to use ingredients you have in your kitchen already, or you may choose to make some of the ingredients from scratch.
- 8 ounces sparkling water, club soda or carbonated water
- 1 ½ ounces of flavored syrup
- Crushed ice
- Fill a 16-ounce glass halfway with crushed ice.
- Pour in the flavored syrup.
- Add the soda water.
The good news is, it’s that easy to make. The even better news is, there are dozens – maybe hundreds – of variations. You can even invent your own!
Your Italian soda can be almost any flavor you can imagine.
You can purchase flavored syrup or make your own. Torani makes syrups in dozens of flavors, from blackberry, mango, banana, and strawberry, to amaretto, bourbon, cassis and crème de menthe.
You can make your soda taste like dessert, with chocolate macadamia nut or cheesecake syrup, or like the holidays, with gingerbread or Italian eggnog. You can even go the Asian route, with chai tea spice or ginger lemongrass.
If you’re watching your calories, there are also many sugar-free varieties of syrup which can make your Italian soda refreshing and guilt-free. You can satisfy your sweet tooth with flavors like sugar-free English toffee, sugar-free hazelnut, sugar-free salted caramel, and even sugar-free chocolate chip cookie dough.
If you prefer, you can make your own flavored syrup. The possibilities are endless, and it’s easy to do.
The base is a simple syrup of one cup of water and one cup of sugar. Using bottled or filtered water instead of tap water will improve the flavor of the syrup. For a fruit syrup, add one cup of fruit.
You can use almost any type of fruit you want, including berries; citrus fruits like oranges, lemons or limes; stone fruits like peaches or apricots; or melons. Bananas and plantains are not recommended since their texture is not conducive to simmering in water.
Put the ingredients in a small saucepan and put it over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer, cover it and let it cook for 10 minutes. Check to see if the fruit is very soft and the syrup has changed color.
Some fruits will take longer than others, so poke the fruit with a fork to make sure that it’s very soft. You want to be able to mash the fruit and extract most of the flavor from it, leaving just pulp.
Pour the syrup through a sieve over a bowl. Mash the fruit with a spoon against the side of the sieve to get all the liquid out of the fruit. Set the bowl of syrup aside to cool.
If you want to make a syrup flavored with something other than fruit, you may have to experiment a bit. Keep in mind that the base of one cup water to one cup sugar remains the same.
To make a sugar-free syrup, substitute Splenda, Truvia or another artificial sweetener for the sugar. Check the package for the correct proportion to use.
If you’re using spices like cinnamon, start with a tablespoon or two and adjust it according to your taste. Some spices, such as ginger, are much stronger in their fresh form than they are if they are powdered, so keep that in mind.
A vanilla syrup will taste much better if you use the whole vanilla bean rather than vanilla extract. Simmer a whole bean or two in your syrup, then take the bean out, slice it the long way and scrape out the seeds into your syrup.
If you want to combine flavors, your best bet will be to make two or more syrups, each with a single flavor, and then use them together. That way, you can adjust the proportions to get the exact flavor you want.
For example, to create a raspberry lemon Italian soda, prepare raspberry syrup and lemon syrup. Use one ounce of raspberry syrup and a half ounce of lemon syrup to make your soda. If you find you want a more pronounced lemon flavor, you can always add more lemon syrup.
Leftover syrup will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
The other main ingredient in Italian soda is carbonated water. You can buy club soda or sparkling water, or you can make your own.
You can also make carbonated water with a carbonation system such as a Sodastream. This system allows you to carbonate tap water using a special machine and a carbon dioxide (CO2) canister. The CO2 is what carbonates the water, and it requires special handling.
The machines come with a CO2 canister to get you started. Once it is empty, you have to bring it to a local retail who exchanges them.
When you bring one it, you can get another one for just the cost of the gas. Or you can buy another canister so you’ll have a spare. The machine comes with a license agreement that details how to exchange the CO2 canister.
Other brands of at-home carbonation machines include KitchenAid Sparkling Beverage Maker, Primo Flavorstation, Cuisinart CSS-100 and Hamilton Beach Fizzini. Each includes a CO2 canister to get you started, and canisters can be refilled or replaced according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
You can also make carbonated water at home with an old-fashioned seltzer bottle. These use CO2 cartridges, which are usually sold separately.
The chargers cannot be refilled and usually come in packages of eight to ten or more. Make sure you get the charger that fits your bottle
You fill the bottle with tap or bottled water, and attach the cartridge. You dispense the water by squeezing the trigger on the bottle.
Regardless of whether you make or buy your carbonated water, you want to mix the water and the flavoring in the glass, right before you are going to drink it.
Making a large bottle of Italian soda and then pouring it into individual glasses will diminish the carbonation and reduce the flavor for true aficionados.
Creamosa or French soda
Another variation on Italian soda is also super easy and delicious.
To make Italian cream soda, also called cremosa or French soda, just add 1 – 1½ ounces of half-and-half. If you can’t find half-and-half, it’s just equal parts light cream and whole milk.
Pour the half-and-half on top of the Italian soda, and let it mingle with the soda. Some people will use whipped cream on top of their soda, but the half-and-half that slowly mixes in makes for a more dramatic presentation.
Italian soda is meant to be non-alcoholic, but that needn’t stop you from creating an ‘adult’ version.
Add a shot of your favorite liquor to your Italian soda creation for a new signature drink. You can add vodka to nearly any flavor of Italian soda, especially the fruit-flavored ones.
Many tropical fruit flavors, such as lime, mango or blood orange, would also taste good with rum or tequila. Amaretto could be added to a coffee-flavored soda, or you could pair a peppermint liqueur with a chocolate soda.
Half-and-half or whipped cream adds a nice touch to a soda that includes a sweet liqueur.
Have an Italian Soda Party
If you’re having a party, make-your-own Italian sodas can be a lot of fun.
Put out glasses with a cooler of crushed ice. Have chilled bottles of club soda or have your carbonator or seltzer bottle ready to make carbonated water on the spot.
Have a selection of flavored syrups, either bottled or homemade, along with alcohol if desired. You can also provide half-and-half or even whipped cream for guests to top off their sodas.
You’ll probably be surprised at the innovative and delicious flavor combinations your guests come up with!
Italian soda can be made in virtually limitless flavors. You can combine flavors, add cream or alcohol, and make your own signature variety.
Whether you use bottle carbonated water or carbonate your own at home, buy your flavored syrups or create your own, you and your guests will enjoy unique and delicious cold beverages you can easily make yourself.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed learning how to make Italian soda at home. Have you tried Italian soda, either at home or elsewhere? What’s your favorite flavor? Tell us in the comments below.