Bootleg Soda: Cranberry Orange Original

Another excerpt from Bootleg Soda: A Smart Aleck's Guide, the cookbook that resulted from our attempt to make better, more interesting flavors of soda syrups to use with the SodaStream at HQ. We're printing excerpts here all week!

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

Just $2.99 on Kindle

Nothing makes cranberries pop like a bit of orange peel. If you order a hot turkey sandwich at a diner and the cranberry sauce it comes with doesn’t have any orange zest in it, march right back to the kitchen and ask the manager what kind of fool they take you for. Don’t bug the server - it isn’t their fault - but restaurant managers exist solely to take your abuse and apologize for their poor decisions. The chefs, who probably cry themselves to sleep for being forced to serve a cranberry sauce they know is an inferior product, will cheer as you body-slam the manager for daring to insult your taste buds. “Go home and rethink your life,” you should say. “Think about the decisions you made that brought you to this lowly place.” 

Now, normally, we think that anyone who is rude to restaurant staff ought to be forced to spend a few years working customer service in some hick town where they usually settle disputes with knives and spitting matches until they realize that the customer is NOT always right. But even we have our limits. If you pay for a dish with cranberry sauce and they haven’t used orange zest (and hopefully whole berries), then it’s a good sign that the manager is part of some vast conspiracy to overthrow the government because they hate freedom.

The more care you put into cranberry orange soda, the better it’ll be. Sure, you can just mix up some 100% cranberry juice and some orange juice, and it’ll be good, but the zest is really where it’s at, so we recommend making a proper base with fresh cranberries and orange zest.


1 cup of fresh cranberries
1 heaping tablespoon of orange zest
1 cup of water
1-2 teaspoons of freshly-squeezed orange juice.
2 cups of sugar
Optional: a tiny dash of citric acid


Add cranberries and zest to water and bring to a boil, simmer for 20 minutes, mashing the cranberries down with a potato masher about halfway through (be careful - they may spurt out how liquid!) Strain, and add orange juice (from the orange you just zested) into the remaining liquid

Mix one part of the liquid with with 2 parts sugar; boiling to dissolve sugar. Cool; mix one part syrup with 4-8 parts carbonated water. Garnish with an orange slice!

Come back tomorrow for a syrup made from fresh fruit, of which there are dozens of recipes in Bootleg Soda!
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