homemade cola syrup

I came across this recipe for homemade cola syrup in the New York Times, and I was intrigued. It’s adapted from the Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain I keep reading about. I adore ice cream sodas and the idea of the old fashioned soda fountain. I wouldn’t mind a new career as a full time soda jerk. Until we find a way to make that happen in Olympia, I will play around with homemade syrups and bump up bottling my own sodas on the agenda.

This list of ingredients is so fascinating, I had to photograph each one. Could they really come together to taste like cola?

star anise

lemon & lime zest



citric acid



orange zest

vanilla bean

brown sugar


I prepared myself mentally for this to be medicinal or weird.

I’m not sure how, but the flavor really screams cola! You can taste subtle bits of individual ingredients but they come together. You have got to try this. No, it doesn’t taste like a Coke. It’s homemade, so it’s so much better.

I can’t wait until the wife gets home for rum & (not) cokes!



Filed under food

192 responses to “homemade cola syrup

  1. Mateo

    I know how I am spending my short shifts at work next week! Thanks for posting this!

  2. Portia

    This looks amazing. I love all the photos.

  3. That is really interesting! Thank you so much for posting this, now I’ve got to try it!

  4. Wow!! Way to go! Great photos of your ingredients, btw!

  5. Lavender! I wouldn’t have expected that ingredient. You think it tastes better than Coke? I don’t know if I believe you on that… :)

    • misterkrista

      I really, really love Coke. I’ve been trying not to drink store bought soda at all lately. It’s just homemade and full of flavor and good in a very different way.

  6. I hate coke, but I think I’ll like this :D Looks so much better!

  7. wadingacross

    Very interesting and indeed, intriguing. As a family that has been trying to ween ourselves off of soda – semi-successfully – this sounds like something I’d be willing to try eventually.

    Most of the list of ingredients made sense, but the lavender; that threw me for a loop.

  8. THis is great! We just bought a SodaStream machine add have been buying the cola syrup. I will have to try this out this weekend!

  9. Have a rum and (not) coke for me too, will ya?

    This looks AMAZING!


  10. What a great idea! When did this article publish? I would love to get measurements so I can make my own batch!

    Thanks a Bunch!

  11. wonderful photos! and i bet that tastes fun.

  12. I love the concept of a homemade soda syrup, and it does sound as though it would taste good, and I’m certain that even with all that sugar, it’s still healthier for you than mass-produced soda. I don’t know that I would call it a cola, though, since it’s lacking in cola nut extract, but more importantly, (as there are several recipes whose names belie their contents,) because it doesn’t even look like a cola. I would have expected something with a darker color, but perhaps the taste is close enough to warrant the name.

  13. Wow! Didn’t expect lavender to be one of the ingredients.
    It looks great, I should try it some time.

  14. Peter

    Very cool, love the pics as well.

  15. i love the pictures! good thing i have all those ingredients!

  16. Wonderful pics guys! I am going to have a go. Thanks for the inspiration.

  17. very cool! the pictures are phenomenal, and i never would have thought to look for or use a recipe for cola…but now i’m curious. might have to give this a try!

  18. Fantastic, creative photos! I’m surprised with the lavendar and so intrigued on this idea to make cola!

  19. Very enjoy the lovely pictures, Thanks for sharing this!

  20. I always wondered what on earth cola was flavored like…what an interesting set of ingredients! thank you for the post!

  21. great recipe, i will definitely try it.. :-)

  22. This looks amazing. I’m gonna give it a try! Thanks for sharing. Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  23. I have a strong aversion to cola, but it’s mostly a knee-jerk reaction to the synthetic nature of the stuff. I might actually like to give this a try.

  24. I don’t like soda, but am feeling compelled to give this a try.

  25. PT

    unbelievable! I just yesterday talked to my husband about trying to make a homemade coke. LOL I bet it’s really delish with the rum! :)

  26. Beckykins

    This is quite fantastic.
    Wonder how the rume & (not cokes) will taste.

  27. My grandmother made Root Beer from scratch.
    Its still the best root beer ever – but I’ve noticed
    when you stray from known brands of soda – the
    taste gets progressively better. I wonder why
    that is. Making it yourself would probably kick
    it up that final notch if that’s the case

  28. michelle091

    I recently made homemade ginger beers (like ginger ale but stronger and more delicious) and I really enjoyed the process, even if it was nearly 100 degree outside and I was stirring a pot on the stove. I think this sounds like an excellent idea. I love the pictures you took of the ingredients–strange combinations but I’m so intrigued I’ll have to try it for myself.

    • misterkrista

      The teenager and I are supposed to do real root beer together, but he has researched and found that sassafras root has been found to be dangerous. I think there are other roots to use for that as well, but weird.

      I really want to do ginger beer, too… we love it around here, especially in dark and stormies!

      • I read somewhere recently but can’t remember where that caramel coloring is dangerous. A known carcinogen. I wish I could remember where, sorry.

        • You are so right. There was a big kerfluffle about it earlier this year (lots of news articles like this). They are supposed to label soda as a known carcinogen in California starting in 2012. Yet another reason to make your own.

  29. How much of each ingredient are you supposed to use?

  30. Very well illustrated and clearly written on how to make home made cola. Never realized the many different ingredients involved. It looks very involved. OTOH the flavor and the natural ingredients may be worth it. For folks who are diabetic I wonder if Splenda or Stevia, or Agave can used.

  31. Looks so interesting…I’ve got to try it. Thanks for sharing!!

  32. Hi nice effort. You’ll like a book I just found at the library I’m at, but can’t get ahold of the title before getting cut off the computer for the day – will get back to you.

  33. lovely photos, fun recipe .. thanks for the effort you’ve put into creating this post!

    • Laurie

      I agree. It takes a great deal of effort to set up for the photos alone. You had to purchase ingredients too. Then you made the recipe and tasted it too. Thanks for sharing. Congrats on being freshly pressed. The photos are great, btw.

  34. this looks like something i will have to try!

  35. busyellebee

    This looks lovely, I’m going to try this :)

  36. Pingback: Cola recipe « Busyellebee's Blog

  37. Love your pix! There’s something so wholesome about the idea of homemade cola, love it!


  38. pictures were amazing!!!! going to have to definitely try this.. always up for new things!

  39. That’s awesome, I’ll have to try it.

  40. How awesome! I love the photos. Beautiful ingredients, I’m sure it tastes lovely :-) Going to try it!

  41. Pingback: homemade cola syrup (via krista and jess) « Grammarqueen’s Blog

  42. Beautiful, thoughtful photography and a succinct (yet wooing) review of the flavor. I will definitely give this a try! Congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  43. Very interesting homemade drink.

  44. Fascinating article! I will be giving this a try. Your photo of star anise is amazing. I have never seen those before.

  45. I am super excited about this post! My husband and I can’t even split a can of regular cola with rum without feeling crappy afterwards from the cola, not the rum (we do the pretty much all natural/from scratch menu in our house). This will be awesome! I have almost all of the ingredients. thanks!

  46. I have to try this! The lavender really threw me, but once a year I get lavender in my farm box and I am going to earmark it for this recipe — so cool.

  47. Wow that looks so yummy! Do you add soda water for carbonation to make it fizzy?

  48. Amy

    Wow, I was totally on the fence until I got to “rum and (not) cokes”!! Your pictures are gorgeous. Now I’ve just got to find me some star anise!

  49. Amazing! Must try this!

  50. Sounds like a fun way to spend the afternoon. Photos look amazing.

  51. What a fantastic recipe, thanks for sharing!

  52. Aisiri

    I am an amateur amateur-cook.. (Amateur twice.. which means I’m primitive :P ) so can I know how to prepare the cola?

    • misterkrista

      If you follow the link at the top where it says “this recipe” it has all the ingredients and instructions. The recipe is fairly easy, but if anything throws you for a loop let me know!

  53. this looks great! thanks for sharing, I think I have to try it!

  54. Congrats on Fresh Pressed! Great blog. This syrup sounds amazing. Nice photos.

  55. Cool! I never came across a cola recipe.

  56. Dawn

    Beautifully styled food pictures.

  57. chicexposure

    this sounds so delicious ~ and beautiful photos! c:

  58. I don’t know about cola syrup, but the pictures are making me unbelievably hungry !! Thank you for the imagery. Very creative.

  59. I love homemade ginger ale, whether it’s for drinking straight or mixing with alcohol. Now, thanks for this blog post, I’m going to have to try making my own cola. Great post, wonderful photos.


  60. I wish cookbooks had photo directions like these!

  61. This sounds like a fun thing to try. I loved all the pictures. Found this b/c we were on the Freshly Pressed page the same day. Congrats!

  62. 2 things. 1) I will be making this soon 2) I clicked “follow” for the first time ever… yep, on your blog!
    Thanks for the post and reading entertainment =)

  63. Jessica Nupen

    looks delisHH

  64. I’ll go ahead and be like everyone else and say, “these photos are awesome!” While the photos themselves are nice, I especially love the color combination they make as a whole… very nice!!!

  65. This is a great post. I have been working to incorporate more recipes into my life and introduce my taste buds to different tastes. The pictures look great. Good job!

  66. This is so awesome! Great post. I will definitely try this.

  67. Your pictures are great and it sounds interesting to make. I would not know where to find lavender like that or the citric acid.

    • misterkrista

      We planted a culinary variety and have a little bit from our yard, but last year we bought a big bouquet of culinary lavender at our farmer’s market and dried and saved it. You can get it from fancy spice or gourmet cooking stores or order it online.

  68. Oh man, I don’t even like soda and that recipe sounds delicious! The Brooklyn Farmacy is owned by my friend and co-communard’s little brother, and it’s so cool/weird to read news articles featuring it. And I love that photo of star anise. So beautiful!

  69. You have inspired me! My girls and I made ginger ale tonight. Wonder if you can use the syurp and some yeast to fiz it up like making ginger ale and root beer? This link is where there are good directions: http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/Cheese/ROOTBEER_Jn0.htm
    Also, Alton Brown has a recipe for ginger ale too.
    Great blog! Kudos!

    • Yes! Root beer & ginger ale are on our long list of soda projects to try. How long until you can sample your ginger ale? Alton Brown seems to have a recipe for everything, doesn’t he?

      • It took less that 24 hrs. for our bottle to harden up, then we put it in the fridge to chill overnight. Will try it tonight when the kids get home! Yes, I think Alton Brown has a recipe for everything, and directions for making the thingy to cook it on too! :)
        BTW, the resulting “pulp” after you strain the ginger is sweet and delicious. I rolled it in a log and dried it in the oven. Chopped it up and now it is like little ginger candy. Too spicy for my kids, but I think they are Yum!

        • That’s a great idea to salvage the ginger pulp. I hate wasting things like that! Enjoy your ginger ale. I’m sure it will be 100% awesome. You could put some rum in that, too.

  70. This looks fantastic! Really enjoy the creativity with pics.

  71. Don’t know what it’s gonna taste like…but I LOVE the photos !!

  72. Jen

    This sounds amazing, I’ll have to try this out for myself. Thanks for sharing this!

  73. First stop at your blog. Great pics! very interesting recipe, will have to give it a try.

  74. It’s interesting to note that Coca-Cola was originally developed by a veteran that was looking to shake his addiction to morphine. In this quest, he decided to make another addictive substance, as Cocoa Cola contains coca (the urban legend is true). Likewise, Pepsi uses pepsin. It’s nice to see a non-addictive version :)

  75. This looks interesting. And the photos were great. We just might give this a try!

  76. naveedashaikh

    If this works, I am going to make you one also. I love cola!!

  77. sounds yum, will def be trying this some time

  78. The best food reciepe blogs are the one which they take awesome photographs!

    You got it!
    It’s fantastic!

    Arjun Kay


  79. VERY COOL. I am from NZ, I live here in the States. and I have NEVER even thought about what the ingredients could have been in a cola. I do not drink store bought sodas. And I know I am not the first one to say but those photos are perfect. But the best bit is if I can find all those ingredients and make them look as beautiful as you did, of course, AT LAST I can have a cola. I noticed you did not add the coke, but I hear it is illegal now!. c

  80. I’m not sure what I like better… the pictures or the prose! I’m fascinated by this and will definitely try it! Thanks for piquing my interest! Beautiful blog!

  81. This is awesome! I will try it – Thanks for sharing!

  82. wow, this looks amazing!
    Great blog.

  83. This is a wonderful post. I love the photos, I quit drinking cola some time back, but I will definitely try it again if I get to make it myself! Thanks for the inspiration! Keep up with the great posts.

  84. certainly glad I ran across this…I hate coke, but love lavender and star anise. Anxious to try this. thank you!

  85. Pingback: homemade cola syrup (via krista and jess) « SmartJava100MileMall

  86. Pingback: homemade cola syrup (via krista and jess) « the Grande Prairie Neighbor

  87. Congrats on the fresh press. Looks good :)

  88. Creative. Looks scrumptious!

  89. Don

    I’ll admit, I’m not gonna do this… but your pictures were very cool!

  90. sarahpayne1

    fantastic! I’ll try it by myself, I’m sure. Thanks for sharing and quite amazing photos.

  91. jane0018

    It’s an amazing blog.This was a very well-written and enjoyable post to read.

  92. sshaddad

    This is so awesome! I’m so glad I came across this :) Love the blog, keep up the awesome work.

  93. critters and crayons

    I love the photographs! Really beautiful and who would have thought to mix all those crazy things together?

  94. A very interesting list of ingredients indeed! The lavender surprised me especially! :)

  95. this seems so yummy..! think i would love to taste it.. if only i can..

  96. sahmjs

    Lavendar? How weird. Although, after reading this Mom’s Guide (http://www.1dental.com/moms-guide/), I started taking inventory of what I feed my son and realized we have way too much sugary and processed food in our diet. Anything HOMEMADE sounds wonderful. Thanks for the idea!

  97. more than anything else, i love the presentation!! :)

  98. Before I read down to your closing sentences – I was already thinking “I’m sticking rum in that!”

  99. Thanks for the post. It just goes show that old fashion ingenuity is still alive and well in this country!

  100. Heather

    I might be the only weird one… I want to know what sort of camera you’re using and if you set everything up special (I assume you had given the perfect lighting and shadows). I love those photos. As for the recipe, I have to agree with someone else who posted on here… I would assume there is a definite benefit to this recipe, in spite of the sugar quantity, versus commercially processed any-brand soda.

    • misterkrista


      It’s a Canon 7D with the 18-135mm kit lens, although you could achieve the same results with lower end Canon or Nikon DSLRs. Not really a special set up other than going in search of decent natural light. Had to take everything outside.

  101. Even without Kola Nut!?


  102. Pingback: homemade cola syrup (via krista and jess) « Adventures in food

  103. Looks amazing. I can’t wait to try!

  104. Hopefully you’ll consider adding this on to the Punk Domestics site. It would be perfect there! (www.punkdomestics.com)

  105. Do you mind if I share it with the editor a foodpress? It’s just such a fun post!

    • misterkrista

      Thanks, I submitted it to Punk Domestics. Share away, by all means! We appreciate it! I’m not sure how Foodpress works… We were “freshly pressed” over the weekend and somehow we’re still up on the food tags page but it looks like Foodpress is different.

      • I tweeted it to FoodPress and here’s what they said:
        @Serendipity_Jam thanks for sharing that cola post – it’s great!
        Hopefully it’ll get posted soon!

  106. FoodPress is like a spin-off of freshly pressed – think gorgeous photos and yummy recipes. http://foodpress.com

  107. That’s nice. Maybe i will try it one. Thanks.

  108. awesome that it turned out!

  109. margaretinmanhattan
    Found that reference I mentioned a few days ago: “Homemade Soda” by Andrew Schloss, Storey Pub[lishing Co.], 2011. Another one is: “Make Your Own Gourmet Chocolate Drinks”, Mathew Tekulsky, Crown Publishers 1996.

    • Thanks for coming back to let me know about that. My public library has that book, so I’m going to check it out. That author has written a lot of food books, so I have high hopes for it.

  110. Pingback: What I learned this week, August 26, 2011 | Bill Chance

  111. Oh I need to try this for sure! Thank you for posting! lovely pictures btw

  112. Pingback: Foods in Jars on Flickr: Pickles, Peppers, Tomatos and More | Food in Jars

  113. Pingback: Making your beverages eco-friendly

  114. Did you can this or is it just in a canning jar?

  115. Allison

    Cool! Like the ingredient pic too. Trying this :)

  116. This sounds so good and intriguing, and as soda is one of my great joys in life I might have to try it. Just found your blog, and loving that banner photo, too.

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  123. Alison

    I am so delighted to have found this recipe – and pictures. I have asked for a soda maker for Christmas and intend to make this recipe first.

  124. What a great idea- my kids will love helping out on this one. Thanks!

  125. Amy

    Do you know if you can process this for extended life in a water bath?

  126. I’m the founder/moderator for Punk Domestics (www.punkdomestics.com), a community site for those of use obsessed with, er, interested in DIY food. It’s sort of like Tastespotting, but specific to the niche. I’d love for you to submit this to the site. Good stuff!

  127. Pingback: Flower popsicles! | Delish Ice - Delicious, gourmet popsicles, around Margaret River and up to Perth

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  129. Where is the Recipe and the amts to use of each ingredient???

  130. Sacre Foie!

    Really enjoy the photo detail. Just makes you want to stop reading and jump into the kitchen.

  131. Lou Navarro

    Anise pods? Lavender flowers? HOLY CRAP! Where do you find all this stuff!!??

    • Check at a natural food store that carries bulk spices or a good-quality grocery store’s spice section. Our food co-op carries both in bulk. We also have a good spice store in our town that carries even weirder stuff. Fancy grocery stores like Whole Foods, Metropolitan Market & Central Market would also carry them, but we don’t have those where we live. If local stores fail you, check online at reputable spice merchants like http://www.penzeys.com
      Good luck!

  132. To make it taste (or color it) more like a cola you’ll need to add in caramel.

  133. Cheryl

    Would be helpful to have the amount of each ingredient, not just pictures.

    • misterkrista

      The first sentence contains a link to the recipe which, as mentioned, is by The NY Times so we didn’t publish their recipe.

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