My story begins shortly after relocating from my hometown of Toledo, Oh all the way across the country to beautiful Bellingham, Wa. Beautiful, as it may have been, it was awfully lonesome when my wife was at work and my oldest(then a few months old) was sleeping. So, to pass the time, I would get online and read about whatever peaked my interest. Then, I ran across a(now defunct site) that was selling a Soda Siphon, along with a list of various soda flavors, recipes and a list of nostalgiac Soda Fountains. As my style goes, I ended up reading everything I could about making homemade soda. There really wasn't a whole lot of information out there, but it grabbed my attention and consumed me for the better part of a month.
One of the first things I read was that most generic cola flavors on the market were actually a combination of Vanilla and Cinnamon. As such, I rushed to my kitchen and combined the two ingredients in a small coffee cup with an ounce of water and some dissolved cane sugar(beet sugar just doesn't provide the same flavor-more on that later). I took a drink, and realized two things- A) I used WAY too much cinnamon. I coughed and gagged on the extreme dryness assaulting my tongue and a burn that made my nostrils feel as though they had been re-engineered to exhale sand. B) I was missing a very important ingredient(or more)...
So, what was I to do? Well, not wanting to waste more of our precious spices(being broke at the time), I went back to the computer and read some more about the ingredients(the amount of each that I used were sufficient for at least a 2 liter of soda, least of all combining them in what was effectively a double-shot of insanity, and that most colas also tend to include a spice or two, and a fairly consistent blend of citrus oils and some kind of acid(mostly Citric Acid, but sometimes Phosphoric Acid to give them more of a sting.
As awful as my first attempt at making a cola flavor was, it was a valuable experience, teaching me that moderation is good, and forever etching into my brain what that horrible concoction tasted like-which will become very relevant very soon.
I gave up on my soda-making dreams for a while, as I got a full-time job and work, sleep and family became far more important then pursuing any new hobbies at the time. I did get back into it momentarily a few years later after a much-needed kick in the ass from the wife(a common motivator in my household), but that's a different story for a different date.