This homemade cola is a refreshing alternative to commercial drinks like Coca-cola and Pepsi. With kola nut powder to give it a natural kick and aromatics including cinnamon, citrus, and vanilla, there are no surprises or secrets in this recipe.
What is cola?
Cola is a sweet nonalcoholic drink flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, and citrus such as orange, lemon, and lime. Most colas contain caffeine which was originally from kola nuts, hence the name. The caffeine in most colas these days comes from sources other than kola nuts.
There are many brands of commercially produced cola, the two most famous being Coca-Cola and Pepsi. All of these have their own unique combination of flavorings, many of which are trade secrets. The usual ingredients include vanilla, cinnamon, and citruses such as bitter orange and may contain other spices and aromatics such as nutmeg, coriander, and even lavender.
Like many people, I love caffeinated cola drinks like Pepsi and Coca-cola, but sometimes commercial cola drinks can be a bit boring and have a lot of unfamiliar ingredients.
There are no surprises here. With this homemade cola recipe, you know exactly what's going into your cola. With its combination of aromatics it really does taste like commercial cola but with more complex flavors than your average can of fizzy pop. I use kola nut powder as was used in the original commercial drinks to give this homemade cola a natural caffeine boost.
Warning - Kola nut powder contains caffeine. This recipe is not suitable for children unless you leave out the kola nut powder. Kola nut powders can vary in their strength and caffeine content, so always check the label and only get yours from reputable sources.
Kola nut powder: was one of the original ingredients in a lot of colas and contains naturally occurring caffeine. The kola nut gives a natural lift to this cola. It is available from some health food and specialty stores. Kola nut powders can vary in their strength so it's important to always read the label and adjust the amount of kola nut powder accordingly.
Brown sugar: also called light brown sugar, adds to the classic caramel color of this cola. You can use dark brown sugar if you prefer. If you use white sugar your cola will be a lighter color.
White sugar: adds much-needed sweetness to this recipe. If you prefer your cola less sweet you could add less sugar.
Oranges: This recipe uses the zest from two oranges, and the juice from one orange. The zest contains orange oils and adds flavor and some bitter notes.
Lemons: This recipe uses the zest from one lemon and the juice from half a lemon. As with orange, the zest contains lemon oils that add flavor and bitter notes.
Limes: this recipe uses the zest from one lime and the juice from half a lime.
Cinnamon: this recipe uses ground cinnamon to add characteristic cola flavor to this recipe. You could try using whole cinnamon sticks but it
Ginger: this recipe uses freshly grated ginger to give it maximum zing. At a pinch, you could use ground ginger instead but it won't have the same warmth.
Nutmeg: this recipe uses ground nutmeg. You could use freshly ground nutmeg if you prefer.
Vanilla: this recipe uses vanilla essence. You can use real or imitation essence as your preference and budget allows, or a freshly scraped vanilla pod if you prefer.
Citric acid: helps add some acidity and that classic bitty mouth feel of colas.
How to make homemade cola
Add the white and brown sugar and water to a medium-sized saucepan.
Add the water, cinnamon, coriander seeds, nutmeg, kola nut powder, and ginger to the saucepan. Put onto medium to high heat and stir well to dissolve the sugar. Once the mix starts to boil, turn it down to low and simmer for twenty minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Zest and juice one orange. You should get about three tablespoons of juice from the orange. Zest another orange but do not juice it. You can use a zester or a fine grater to zest the orange.
Zest the lemon and juice one half. You should have about one and a half tablespoons of juice from the lemon half.
Zest and juice one-half of the lime. You should have about one tablespoon of juice from the lime.
Add the zest and juice from the orange, lemon, and lime to the saucepan. Add the vanilla and citric acid. Stir well.
Put the lid on the saucepan and chill in the fridge for two to four hours to allow the flavors to develop. Make sure you put a chopping board or pot holder underneath the saucepan to stop it from damaging your fridge shelf. If you don't have enough room for the saucepan in your fridge you can transfer the mix to a covered heatproof container.
One mix is chilled and has developed line a sieve with a cheesecloth or clean new chux and put it over a large bowl or jug. Strain the cola. Transfer to a clean jug or other airtight container and chill in the fridge until serving.
This recipe makes about four cups (1 liter) of cola, which will make up to eight cups (2 liters) of ready-to-drink cola. You can add more or less water to the cola depending on how strong you like it.
How to serve
To serve this cola put a handful of ice into a glass. Half fill with the cola, then top with either cold still water or cold seltzer (soda water). You can add more or less cola depending on how strong you like it. Finally, garnish with a slice of lime on the side. Delicious!
How to store
You can store this cola in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. It may start to settle a little when stored so give it a gentle shake before serving.
Have you made this recipe? Tell me how it went in the comments below and tag me on Instagram so I can see your delicious creations! @keep_calm_and_eat_icecream
Looking for more yummy dessert recipes?
Why not try making
- 1 cup (220gms) white sugar
- ½ cup (110gms) tighly packed brown sugar
- 3 cups (750mls) water
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons corriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 flat teaspoons (5gms) kola nut powder *adjust according to the strength of your powder
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 medium orange zested and juiced (3 tablespoons of juice)
- 1 medium orange zest only
- 1 medium lemon zest and juice from half (1 and ½ tablespoons)
- 1 lime zest and juice from half (1 tablespoon)
- ½ teaspoon citric acid
- Add white and brown sugar to a medium saucepan.
- Add water to saucepan.
- Add cinnamon, corriander seeds, nutmeg, kola nut powder and ginger to saucepan.
- Put on a medium to high heat and stir well to dissolve sugar.
- When mix starts to bubble, turn down to very low heat and simmer with the lid on for twenty minutes, stiring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Zest and juice one orange. Zest only the second orange.
- Zest lemon and juice half lemon.
- Zest lime and juice half lime.
- Add vanilla, citrus juice and zest and citric acid to pot. Stir well.
- Chill in fridge for about two hours or longer to allow flavours to develop.
- Line a sieve with a cheesecloth and put it over a large bowl.
- Strain cola through cheesecloth.
- Transfer cola to a clean airtight jar or container.
- To drink add some ice to a glass. Half fill with cola then top with either still water or selzier. Add a slice of lime on the side and drink! Delicious!
Nutritional information is an estimate based on an online database. The nutritional content of ingredients may vary by brand. If you require accurate nutritional information, you should calculate this based on the specific brands and products you are using.
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