This recipe was inspired by the concept of Almdudler, Austria’s famous apple flavored soft drink, but I think this tastes sharper, punchier. And I feel good about making this soda for kids’ birthday parties since it’s sweetened with apple juice concentrate (omit the alcohol for such events). Want to make it grown up? Add a shot of Calvados, Applejack, or Fireball to give your glass a kick. Or add a splash of apple cider vinegar for a bracing shrub. If you can’t find the obscure herbs (look in health food stores), then don’t worry about using them. It will still taste good, but the flavor won’t be as complex. Same for the hops, although I have a glut of hops growing in my yard so I am always looking for ways to use them. The citric acid powder, which adds a good sharp zing, can be found at homebrew and health food stores. —BakerBren
100% apple juice concentrate, divided
large organic lemon, zest and juice
inch fresh ginger root, grated
cut and sifted dried orange peel
citric acid powder (optional)
cut and sifted dried Echinacea
cut and sifted gentian root
large whole hops, dried or fresh (optional, but interesting)
Jägermeister or vodka (optional, for preservation)
Add 6 oz. of the apple juice concentrate to a small saucepan and add salt, citric acid, 2-3 hops, orange peel, Echinacea, and gentian. Using a microplane, grate in the ginger (no need to peel it) and zest the lemon. Place the pot over medium-low heat and bring just to a boil then reduce the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the remaining 6 oz. of apple juice concentrate into a 1quart glass measure with a pouring spout. Place a fine mesh strainer on top of the glass measure and juice the lemon into the apple juice through the strainer.
Next, place the 2-3 remaining hops in a small bowl, pour Jägermeister or vodka over them and mash with the back of a spoon.
After the hot liquid has steeped and simmered for the allotted 5 minutes, pour it into the cold liquid through the strainer, press and discard the contents of the strainer and replace the strainer over the syrup. Then add the hops steeped in alcohol to the strainer and press them to release any remaining liquid. Discard hops.
Using a funnel, pour the syrup into a clean 16 oz. bottle (I use 500 ml oil dispensing bottles with removable pour spouts for this). Cap and store in the refrigerator. Use within a few days, or store up to 2 weeks with the addition of the alcohol. To serve, mix 1 part syrup to 3 parts carbonated water in a glass or vary the mix by taste.