I got the idea for this soda when trying to figure out a use for the Almond extract I originally picked up with the intention of using it in my cream soda. I never used it for my cream soda, but alas, I found another ingredient I thought would pair well with it-cinnamon. The spiciness of the cinnamon paired with the sweetness of the almond extract sounded quite delightful to me. Anyone who has ever used almond extract for any reason, however, knows that almond extract smells much like maraschino cherries. This is understandable, as almond trees belong to the prunus species-which includes peaches, prunes, plums, and cherries. Fun fact-almonds are not actually nuts-they are seeds. They're an edible cousin to the notorious peach pit. Another fun fact-Coca Cola company uses almond extract to flavor their Cherry Coke.
Anyways, I decided I wanted to make a cinnamon-cherry soda, but I didn't have any cherry juice available to me(maybe next time), so I proceeded with cinnamon sticks and almond extract.
The important thing to keep in mind about extracts is that they will lose their potency if put in too hot of water, so you will not be using the extract during the brewing process-it'll come later. On to the recipe...
4 x 3 inch Cinnamon Sticks
1/2 tsp. Almond extract
2 cups Sugar
1 gallon water
1/8 tsp. Ale yeast
Fill a stock pot with about 2 quarts of water and the cinnamon sticks. Put the water on med-high heat, bring to a simmer and let simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat, stir in the sugar, cover and let steep for another 20 minutes.
Pour in the other 2 quarts of water, mix in and check the temperature. If it's around 100 degrees fahrenheit, stir in your almond extract 1/4 tsp. at a time.
Put 1/8 tsp. of yeast in a coffee cup(or measuring cup you used for sugar) with 2 oz. warm water, stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
Ideally, you'll want your brew water to be between 80-90 degrees. Stir in your yeast water and bottle.
This ended up being my first batch of homemade soda that a gallon batch actually filled 11 12 oz. bottles-and 8 oz. leftover to sample the brew. Usually I get about 10 12 oz. bottles with an 8 oz. tester bottle leftover. I think dividing the water in half in the brew process helps retain more of the water as not as much gets lost due to evaporation.
The tester glass tasted amazing-it was sweet, slightly tart and a but spicy. It reminded me of a cherry crisp. I'm anticipating popping open a bottle in 2 days to check out how it's coming along. I'll let you know how it goes.