Homemade Soda for a Crowd
So I'm planning my wedding menu for this August, and I'd like to serve a homemade soda for those not interested in the craft beers and wine (and open bar). I bought Homemade Soda by Andrew Schloss, but I've noticed that they all use large quantities of inputs for the syrup to mix with the seltzer (ie, there's a syrup:seltzer ratio of 1:1 or akin. Think of it another way, a pint of strawberries might get you 3 servings or soda). I'm trying to serve 80 people, and I'd rather not buy out (and pay for the kitchen staff to prepare) the entire state's supply of oranges, berries, cola, whatever.
Does anyone have any non-alcoholic beverage recipes that are tasty and easier for a crowd? Alton Brown's Celery Soda is one good choice (2 TBSP of Syrup pre cup of Seltzer). Lemonade spritzer perhaps? Are there others that are equally (or even more) delicious?
Ginger syrup, just fresh ginger boiled with sugar and water, to make a light ginger ale. Or do a mix of flavors for a more interesting drink: maybe ginger-lemonade, grapefruit-cardamom, or orange-ginger-star anise?
I had pretty good yield with a batch of ginger syrup I made. I gently simmered unpeeled ginger coins in equal parts water and sugar until it got a thick consistency (about an hour). Make sure to use lots of ginger, or the sugar in the syrup will overpower the spice. You're shooting for a syrup that's spicy with ginger. Luckily, ginger is relatively cheap. I eyeballed my attempt, but if you're looking for specific measures, there are several recipes on the web. Just look for ginger syrup or ginger ale.
I make lemon soda. Follow your favorite lemonade recipe but use seltzer instead of water. I also enjoy tamarind soda with a chile salt rim, salty plum soda, preserved lemon soda, grapefruit soda, and passion fruit soda. All made at home. Yum!
For berry flavors, you may consider using frozen fruit and cooking it down with sugar, water, and a bit of lemon juice to make a syrup.
As far as the ratio goes, I suspect that will vary depending on how sweet you want the final product to be, and how intense the input flavour is. For something like strawberries, for example, you're going to need a lot of fruit because the fruit itself contains a lot of water and pulp, compared to something like celery seed which is very compact, so the final syrup is almost all sugar with a concentrated flavour.
A good way to think of the fruit sodas - you're going to need approximately as much fruit as it would take to make a cup of juice to make a cup of soda.
One of my favourite simple non-alcoholic drinks is mint lime soda - fresh mint, lime juice, sugar syrup and soda. Ginger soda could work well - you'll use a lot of ginger, but it's a pretty concentrated flavour. Or you could go for recipes that use spices, extracts, and things like lemon or orange peel (rather than juice). Cream soda is an option, too, as it's based on vanilla and spices.
For fruit based drinks, you'd probably get more mileage out of smoothies, because you're keeping the pulp in the drink - fruit, ice, yoghurt, etc.