Bootleg Soda: Celery DeLorean

Another excerpt from Bootleg Soda: A Smart Aleck's Guide, the results of our attempts to make better, more interesting soda syrups to use with our soda stream (and become experts on soda fountain history while we were at it).

The Smart Aleck’s Guide to Bootleg Soda: 100+ Homemade Soda Syrup Recipes, plus 50+ classic fountain drink formulas.

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Celery Soda is more common that you might think - there’s probably some in the kosher section of your local supermarket, under the name of Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Soda. It may sound weird, but it’s delicious! People who see you drinking it will think it’s some sort of health food, but it’s really a very good soda in the general vein of ginger ale.

Dr. Brown’s version is labelled as a “celery soda with other natural flavors.”  Well, Doc Brown….where we’re going, we don’t need other natural flavors! A soda made from plain celery seed and sugar is not only delicious, it also turned out to taste very similar to a Dr. Brown’s, at least to our palettes. 

1 cup water
1 tablespoon celery seed (NOT celery salt. Seriously. You’ll only make that mistake once). 
1.5 cups sugar

Bring to water and celery seed to a boil, then simmer, covered, for twenty minutes. Strain out seeds. 

Mix in 1.5 cups sugar for every 1 cup of remaining liquid. Boil to dissolve sugars, then cool. Use one part syrup to 4-8 parts carbonated water. 

Here’s a vintage label for Dr. Brown’s Celery Tonic, published in American Bottler accompanied by the harsh phrase “You Must Not Use These Labels!”

 “Bootlegging” was actually a bit problem in the old days of soda fountains; people were always worried that competitors would use their labels to sell inferior beverages, and Coca Cola considered just any beverage with the words “cola” in it to be a copyright infringement, even one called Celery Cola. Interesting to see how they promised that the celery compound would cure what ailed ya - the label reads “A Pure Beverage for the Nerves. Strengthens the Appetite and Aids the Digestion.”

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