I could drink a Watermelon Italian Soda every single day. In fact, I often do. I can pronounce all of the ingredients and make it with little effort, so, why not? Plus, I always have what I need to make them. The simple syrup is made from fresh fruit juice and sugar. Afterwards, seltzer water (or another carbonated water) is added to the syrup.
Too easy, right? Since summer is fast approaching, it’s time you learn how to make this effervescent libation.
What Exactly Is a Watermelon Italian Soda?
Although it’s called an Italian Soda, it’s actually an Italian-American born recipe. The soft drink is made by adding carbonated water to fruit syrup. A wide variety of syrups can be use to make an Italian soda; as a result, the flavor possibilities are endless. Soda jerks often add ice cream to an Italian soda to turn it into a float. I’m not a big fan of ice cream with fruity flavors, so I remain a purist.
Here’s how to make this watermelon version.
This is What You’ll Need to Make Your Watermelon Italian Soda
Grab a 5-pound seedless watermelon for starters. A bottle of seltzer water is what we’ll use to produce our fizz. Mineral water (like Topo Chico), club soda, or tonic water will work as good substitutes for seltzer. You will need granulated sugar and a couple of mint leaves, as well. That’s it! Well, ice. You will need ice for serving the Italian soda. But that’s really, really it!
Prepare the Watermelon
First, you need to prep your fresh watermelon. On your cutting board, cut the top and bottom off of the melon using a chef’s knife. Now that you have a stable base, slice away the rind of the melon. You can discard the rinds.
Because we’re going to end up pureeing the watermelon, the next cuts don’t have to be precise. Cut the watermelon into large chunks.
Scoop the watermelon chunks into your blender. Pluck 5 leaves from a stem of fresh mint and add them to the blender also.
Blend the watermelon and mint for 1 minute, or until no large chunks remain.
Extract the Watermelon Juice
Finish the watermelon prep by straining the juice from the pulp. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the watermelon puree into the sieve. A rubber spatula will gently nudge the juice from the pulp. Since we don’t want to end up with too much watermelon flesh in the drink, try not to press too hard on the pulp. Unlike other fruits, it’s softer, so it tends to go through the sieve easier.
Discard the pulp after you’ve extracted the juice. You should end up with approximately 6 cups of watermelon juice.
Make the Simple Syrup Which Will Flavor the Watermelon Italian Soda
Now on to the watermelon simple syrup. In a pot, stir the watermelon juice and granulated sugar together. Bring the watermelon syrup up to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.
After the syrup comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved, let it cook for 30 seconds.
Remove the syrup from the stovetop and cool it completely. When it’s cool, you can transfer it to a pitcher and put it into the fridge. Since we want it to be cold when we’re making our Italian soda, we need it to chill out for a couple of hours. However, if you’re in a rush, set the pitcher in a bowl of ice water, to cool it down faster. Stir the syrup frequently and you can use it as soon as it is ice cold.
Mix the Watermelon Italian Soda
Now we’re ready to become hooked on our Watermelon Italian Soda.
Grab a highball glass and dump a handful of ice in there. If you like a lightly sweetened soda, fill the glass 1/3 to 1/2 full with watermelon syrup. For a watermelon Italian soda with more sweetness, fill it up 5/8s of the way with syrup.
Pour the seltzer water on top of the syrup.
Because this is a tall glass, and you have all this stuff going in it, I recommend using a cocktail stirrer to stir the soda. Begin down at the bottom of the glass, and pull the syrup up and into the seltzer to create a balanced drink.
Garnish the Watermelon Italian Soda with Mint
Garnish each glass with a long stem of mint and a straw for sipping. The floaty bits of watermelon are to be expected. We are, after all, drinking fresh juice.
Since seltzer will go flat after a while, I suggest making these to order. If you have a lot of folks partaking, set up a watermelon Italian soda bar and let them create their own glass.
Store the Watermelon Simple Syrup in the Fridge
Keep your watermelon simple syrup in the fridge for up to three days. The flavor will start to wane after the third day, so drink up.
Because you’re bound to host a few BBQs and pool parties this summer, be sure to pin this recipe for later!
Watermelon Italian Soda
- 5 pound seedless watermelon peeled and cut into large chunks
- 5 mint leaves plus more for garnish
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 24 ounces (2 litres) seltzer water (see notes for substitutes)
- ice to serve
Extract the Watermelon Juice
- Put the watermelon chunks and mint leaves into your blender. Blend the watermelon and mint for 30 seconds-1 minute, or until no large chunks remain.
- Discard the watermelon pulp after you've extracted the juice. The extracted watermelon juice should measure approximately 6 cups.
Prepare the Watermelon Simple Syrup
- In a pot, stir the watermelon juice and granulated sugar together. Bring this mixture up to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.
- After the syrup comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved, let it continue cooking for 30 seconds. Remove the syrup from the stovetop and set it on the countertop to cool completely.
- When the watermelon simple syrup has cooled to room temperature, transfer it to a pitcher and put it into the fridge. Chill the simple syrup until very cold. Alternatively, you can set the pitcher in a bowl of ice water, to cool it down faster. Stir the syrup frequently and you can use it as soon as it is ice cold.
Prepare the Watermelon Italian Soda
- Fill a highball glass halfway with ice cubes.
- For a lightly sweetened soda: fill the glass 1/3 to 1/2 full with watermelon syrup. For a sweeter watermelon Italian soda: fill the glass 5/8s of the way with watermelon syrup.
- Pour the seltzer water on top of the syrup filling the glass.Use a cocktail stirrer, or a straw, to stir the soda. Begin down at the bottom of the glass, and pull the syrup up while stirring into the seltzer to create a balanced drink.
- Garnish each glass with a long stem of mint and a straw for sipping. Floaty bits of watermelon in the soda are to be expected since it's made with fresh juice.
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