Italian cream sodas were near and dear to my tweenage heart. I used to hop on the bus and make my way over to the Factory Outlets–which you would likely recognize if you have ever driven the stretch of Highway80 past Vacaville, CA, between Sacramento and San Francisco. Those outlets and the public library were where I would spend many of my weekend days (I was REALLY cool guys). At the library I would read Fear Street books and freak myself out but, at “the outlets” I would spend all my babysitting money on junk from the Sanrio store (Keroppi 4-lyfe!) and then treat myself to an Italian soda…which made me feel incredibly sophisticated in only the way creamy-syrupy soda, a few bills in my Hello Kitty wallet, and tweenage freedom could. Then I would call my mom from a pay phone (yes, real life) and she would pick me up in her minivan. 90’s livin’.
I’m a grown-up lady now (though the Little Twin Stars pen in my purse would say suggest otherwise) and I like to make my own dang Italian sodas. If you’ve never had an Italian soda, that’s totally okay because many iterations are way too sweet with syrups that only suggest fruit flavor. My version uses sour cherries and a good squeeze of lime to temper the sugar. The syrup is layered into glasses with ice, sparkling water, and cream making the prettiest, effervescent layers for a fancy-ass interpretation of my middle school favorite.
- for the cherry syrup:
- 1 cup pitted sour cherries (I used frozen)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- juice of ½ large lime
- for the sodas:
- ½ cup sour cherry syrup
- 1 cup unflavored sparkling water
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream or half & half
- In a saucepan combine the sour cherries and sugar, heat over medium-high and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar and boil 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Pour into a jar to cool.
- Once the syrup is cooled pour about ¼ cup of the syrup and a few cherries (more or less depending on your preference) into 2 glasses. Add a generous amount of ice and nearly fill each glass with sparkling water. Top each soda with about 1½ tablespoons of cream. Add a straw and enjoy!
You can either just use the syrup for the sodas or use both syrup and cherries. I like to fish the cherries out with my straw and eat them at the end. But, any leftover cherries are great to save and use as a topping over ice cream!