There has been a lot of hype about fizzy water lately, especially in the New York bubble (pun intended)… with the LaCroix wall in the Williamsburg Whole Foods, bad news for those who, for some reason, believed it was healthy, and the growing popularity of SodaStream. As a life-long fizzy water fan who keeps antacid in the desk drawer for those hard weeks on the bottle, it’s been fun to watch the world discover my dear old friend.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, start here, then read this brand comparison, which I vehemently disagree with (Boylan is amazing and, as a purist, all pre-flavored fizzy water is garbage), but will give you a window into the passion of the category.
Last week, I shared one of my veteran fizzy water tricks with the office: homemade extracts.
On the rare occasion that I crave flavor with my bubbles, I always keep a few interesting extracts in my refrigerator to mix with simple syrup and make a quick drinkie of my own creation. My favorites have been lavender, pine, and black pepper, which all happen to pair well with gin (I don’t believe in coincidences).
This time around, we made lavender, rose, mint, and vanilla tinctures with vodka as a solvent. Generally, the difference between an extract and a tincture is the ratio of herb to solvent. Tinctures are 1 part herb to 3 parts solvent and extracts are equal parts herb to solvent.
If you’re following along at home, the process is easier than popping a top off your Topo Chico (unequivocally the best fizzy water on the market, from Mexico, limited distribution in the U.S.).
Fresh or dried herbs will work here. Check your local international and natural health markets for interesting flavors–herbs, spices, citrus peels, etc. Choose a solvent–vodka works well because of its neutral flavor (middle of the road as far as quality), but you can get crazy with other spirits as long as they’re at least 80 proof, and vegetable glycerin works as a non-alcoholic alternative.
Fill your tight-sealing container about 1/3 with your dry ingredient. Fill the rest of the container with solvent, taking care to keep dry ingredient submerged. Store in a cool, dark place, inverting once per day. Steep time isn’t an exact science, but here are some guidelines as a recommendation:
Lavender: 1-3 weeks
Dried peppermint: 4-6 weeks
Peppercorn: 2-6 weeks
Rose buds: 12-48 hours
Check the taste and smell periodically and use your best judgement to determine when the peak flavor has been achieved.
Use a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove dry ingredients. Your extract/tincture is ready to use and will keep for months; longer if stored in the refrigerator.
Mix with simple syrup to flavor water or cocktails, or on its own for baking.