Like countless other households, I own one of those make-your-own soda machines. But while it is a quick and cost effective way to make carbonated beverages, the selection of syrups available is somewhat limited.
As such, I have recently started creating my own custom syrups at home, many of which include grilled or smoked fruits to really make them special. Below is one of my easiest, yet flavor packed, recipes -- grilled lemon and rosemary soda syrup.
GRILLED LEMON-ROSEMARY SYRUP
6-8 lemons, halved
4 sprigs rosemary
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Preheat one charcoal chimney full of Kingsford briquets. Spread briquets evenly across the grill's bottom charcoal grate and open the bottom vents fully for high heat cooking (450+ degrees). Add 1-2 chunks of your favorite smoking wood (alternatively you can wrap a handful of wood chips in foil and add several holes in the foil to allow smoke to escape) to the briquets and replace the main cooking grate.
Place lemon halves on the grill cut side down directly above the smoking wood and allow them to cook for approximately 5 minutes, rotating them a quarter turn after 2 minutes, until they are nicely charred. Remove the lemons from the grill and allow them to cool. Place a small saucepan on the grill and add the water, sugar, and 2 springs of rosemary. Allow the mixture to heat for approximately 5 minutes while stirring periodically until the sugar has completely dissolved.
As the sugar mixture simmers, squeeze lemons into a strainer placed above a bowl or cup in order to remove pulp and seeds. Stir 1 cup of the grilled lemon juice into the sugar mixture. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, remove the rosemary sprigs and pour the syrup into an airtight container along with the remaining rosemary sprigs.
To make grilled rosemary-lemon soda, prepare 1 liter of sparkling water in a soda maker (or use 1 liter of store bought sparkling water) and add 4 tablespoons* of the syrup to the water. Add the lid, tighten, and gently shake to combine the ingredients. Serve over ice.
* Add less syrup for citrus enhanced sparkling water.