February 8, 2013

Recipe 24 - Homemade Cola

This is an adaptation of a cola flavor that has been floating around the web.  Most directly it is adapted from the NY Times article found here.  They use raw ingredients, but not having access to them at the time, I wanted to do something that incorporated some extracts as well.  You'll probably get better flavor with raw ingredients, but you'll also have a little more inconsistency from batch to batch depending on the seasonality of your ingredients.

For lavender I substituted a very floral honey, which seemed to work well for the application.  I'll have to hit the health nut store sometime to see if I can pick up some dried flowers in the bulk herb section.

You'll need:
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
1-2 drops Pure Anise extract
3 Tbsp floral Honey
1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
1 Lemon
1 Orange
1 Lime
1 lb sugar (2 cups)
1 tsp molasses
2 cups water
Top up to 1 gallon with carbonated water.

To begin, zest and juice all three citrus fruits, keep the zest and juice separate.  In a saucepan, combine the zests, and the three spices with the 2 cups water.  Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Strain out the particulates add the sugar and molasses to the flavor infused water.  Heat to dissolve the sugar.  Allow to cool and then add the honey, vanilla, anise extract, and citrus juices.  Add syrup to carbonated water and there you have homemade cola!

This won't be a direct copy of Coke or Pepsi, because it does not contain the phosphoric acid.  If you want a closer match to their cola flavor, there are some places where you can get phosphoric acid, but make sure it is USP or Food Grade.  I believe the book Fix the Pumps discusses this somewhat, or the author's website, Art of Drink has some resources available as well, it's not the safest stuff to play with if you don't know what you're doing.  Certainly adding some citric acid will help get some extra bite into your cola, but the phosphoric acid is the real deal.


  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenCola_(drink) its an open source cola recipe. Has a bunch of people pitching in little tweaks here and there to make the perfect cola. Pretty cool little recipe

  2. ummm.........why would u put a lemon and lime in cola????????????????????????????

    1. Flavors such as cola and root beer are complex concoctions of a conglomeration of flavors rather than just an extract from a single source. The flavor cocktail that is commonly recognized as cola has enough of a citrus component so that leaving them out will seem noticeably different. You you you you you're more than welcome to leave it out if you decide to make this for yourself. I'd welcome you to post your results here in the comments section if you do.

  3. Can you do this without the molasses?

    1. Yes, you certainly can. The molasses gives it a darker color and a richer flavor, but you can certainly leave it out entirely, or substitute the white sugar and molasses with brown sugar.
      The original NY Times recipe that I adapted this from used brown sugar, but I didn't have any on hand at the time.

  4. This sounds really good. I am now working on the recipe that uses essential oils, but this one will be next on my list to try.
    I am using kola nut to obtain the caffeine for the syrup but not sure how much. Any ideas? (I have caffiene capsules, but again, not sure how much caffeine to use, nor if it really affects the taste).
    Thanks and thanks for all of the recipes!

    1. I'm not entirely sure how much caffeine you'll get by using kola nut. I do know that commercial colas usually have somewhere around 29-35mg of caffeine per 12oz can. With that in mind, if you were making a gallon batch (128oz), you'd be in the ballpark to multiply by 10 and put in 350mg per gallon batch if you were using capsules or powder. Measure carefully, you don't want too much. It would add a slightly bitter flavor, but I'm not sure what level it's really discernible.

    2. Don't do less by wanting to do more, don't you add caffeine caps or tabs because first caffeine is a very bitter tasting molecule, you'll certainly sour your syrup even by adding a small quantity, and second caps and tabs aren't made solely of caffeine they come with a lot of additives called excipients that will also change syrup flavor and possibly even ruin it. So don't go too imaginative on this.

  5. What is the major aim to put a lemon and lime in cola? Is this 0 calories juice?

    1. Flavor Rohit, flavor. Cola is composite of flavors, and to get a tart flavor too, which in trash commercial sodas is achieved by adding bone destroying eroding phosphoric acid.


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