Friday, March 28, 2014

Celery Soda

Sodas, as in Colas and the like, were eliminated from our beverage rotation eons ago. It’s not that we are entirely pure in our imbibing habits, as we very much enjoy morning coffee and evening wine, it’s that we simply don’t crave sodas. Calories, sugar, etc. are always factors to consider in what gets the pass and what gets the nix in our kitchen and, well, sodas got the nix.

An occasional sparkling water mixed with a little fresh juice or muddle of fresh herb took the place of carbonated colas a long time ago and we never looked back.

And then, just recently, we dined at Sitka & Spruce in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. It’s one of several lovely eateries in the Matt Dillon’ empire of restaurants. My absolute new favorite restaurant of all time is another in the Dillon lineup… The Corson Building. Though our platings at S&S were certainly delicious, it was our introduction to Celery Soda that got our attention.

While I’m familiar with simple syrups and certainly have muddled a few concoctions, I’ve never heard of or considered using celery as a flavor enhancer. It’s delish.

Though I’m not sure of how the folks at S&S prepare their offering, I did get enough info to deduce that it’s probably a celery-infused simple syrup mixed with sparkling water. Served over ice with a fresh squeeze of both lemon and lime… it’s divinely refreshing.

The one enjoyed at S&S was beautifully void of hue, a clear and bubbly drink with a bright and colorful citrusy pop of flavor. Electing to use coconut sugar in place of white refined sugar, my version is a bit more akin to an iced tea in appearance, and ever slightly more molasses-tasting in its sweet note… but equally appealing and enjoyed.

While this won’t be a daily beverage (a simply syrup is still sugar-based), celery is such a fun and tasty flavor option; one that makes this "soda" warrant at least a sip.

Celery Soda
Makes approximately  3 cups Celery Simple Syrup Mix

4 cups water
2 cups coconut sugar (or white refined sugar, as preferred)
1 cup roughly chopped celery leaves (leafy tops of celery stalks)
2 to 3 cups chopped celery (cut into approximate 1” lengths)

sparkling water
fresh lemon wedges
fresh lime wedges

In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar to create a simple syrup. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring regularly, until sugar has completely dissolved. Add celery leaves and celery to mixture; reduce heat to a rolling simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally for at least one hour, until celery flavor is notably present to taste. (Note, if you want to muddle celery in mixture to further enhance flavor, I think it works.). Let cool completely, then transfer celery-infused simple syrup to a glass container for storing in fridge.

To mix Celery Soda, combine 1 part strained Celery Simple Syrup and 4 parts sparkling water. Squeeze one wedge each of fresh lime and lemon into each individual drink. (e.g. … one drink = ¼ cup strained Celery Simple Syrup and 1 cup sparkling water garnished with one wedge of lime and one wedge of lemon).

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