Italian soda tutorial from Our Best Bites

When I was a teenager, sometimes I would do really cool and edgy things like go to the local coffee shop after school with my friends and order…Italian sodas. Blackberry Italian sodas to be exact. Notice how un-edgy all of those things are? After school? Italian sodas? Yeah, I was a total rebel, but I felt cool holding onto my Cafe Ibis cup, walking around (or driving around in my awesome vehicle that looked just like this).

mazda hatcback

After I left home for college, whenever I came home, my best friend Brittany and I would make an Italian soda run and catch up on life and gossip. And on the day I got married, as I was running out of the door and Brittany came running up the driveway to my front door holding a Blackberry Italian soda for me. Because that’s the kind of friend she is.

I kind of forgot about Italian sodas until recently, but in the last few months, they’ve become our family’s favorite go-to treat. On the 4th of July, we had the missionaries from our church over for a little celebration and we had a full-on Italian soda bar. Turns out they thought it was pretty awesome, so if you’re looking for ways to impress 18-21-year-olds living in poverty, Italian sodas are the way to go.

For starters, I laid out a layer of butcher paper on my dining room table. I bought a roll of it at Sam’s Club awhile back and I’m not kidding when I say I used it almost every day, whether it’s for blog stuff or kids’ art projects or low-maintenance table covers. Then I set out the flavored syrups. For Italian sodas, fruity flavors are generally preferable. I have pretty much all the fruity flavors, but the most popular ones at my house have been strawberry, coconut, watermelon, pina colada, and cherry. You can get them a lot of places (when I say you, I mean you–I live in the middle of nowhere and had to order mine because there is nowhere to buy flavored syrups where I live)–Amazon, World Market, Orson Gygi, Soap.com, Lollicup Store, and the Torani website are all really great resources. Then I set out the same 24-ounce cups I used in this post, a bucket of ice, bottles of club soda, seltzer, or sparkling water, a pitcher of half and half, and a bunch of colored striped straws…

striped paper straws

(I collected in the fashion of a hoarder got mine from Pick Your Plum when they sold them recently, but they’re not hard to find). Orson Gygi has an awesome selection, both on-line and in-store; Sara and I always stock up when we visit Utah!

Italian soda tutorial from Our Best Bites

Now, you can either have a “bartender” making drinks or you can let people mix their own. I actually wrote directions right on the butcher paper with a Sharpie so people would kind of have a guideline for how to make them. Either way, if you’re using a 24-ounce cup, I’ve found that 3 pumps of syrup (the pumps are available at all the places that sell the syrups), which equates to 3 tablespoons of syrup, is just right.

Italian soda tutorial from Our Best Bites

You can also mix and match the flavors–one of our family’s favorites is “Tiger’s Blood,” which is 1/2 strawberry and 1/2 coconut.

After you add the syrup, fill the cups about halfway full of crushed ice (pebble or “Sonic” ice or ice from Sara’s supersexy ice maker is kind of perfect–scroll all the way down to the bottom of the post to see some ice beauty shots).

Italian soda tutorial from Our Best Bites

Fill the cups about 1-1 1/2″ from the top with soda water…

Italian soda tutorial from Our Best Bites

and then add a splash of half and half (about 1 tablespoon).

Italian soda tutorial from Our Best Bites

Add a straw and stir…

Italian soda tutorial from Our Best Bites

And enjoy! I love these because they’re easy to make on a small or large scale and everyone can get exactly what they want!

Italian soda tutorial from Our Best Bites

If you missed our post earlier this week, click here to see a fun event we’re participating in- and how you can help get one blogger’s ice cream creation rolled into production and seen on grocery shelves near you! Vote for your favorite flavor HERE! If you want to see our flavors, Sara’s is the Crumb-Topped Huckleberry Pie, and mine is Salted Caramel Banana Pudding! You can vote for one per day for the next few weeks.

Gygi Drinks Graphic 2

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56comments

  1. 1

    This is awesome! I feel lame for only having heard of Italian sodas and somehow going through my life not actually having one yet. I feel inspired to change that fact; thank you for the break-down of how to make these!

  2. 2
    Christine says:

    So funny how you read my mind! My daughter’s 7th birthday party is next weekend and I was thinking earlier today that an Italian soda bar would be a super awesome addition for the party. I’m going to take this as a sign that it must be meant to be, so Italian soda’s here we come ~ I think I need your ice machine though, hopefully Amazon has it available with Prime shipping, gotta love that!

    • 2.1
      Christine says:

      update : We did have the Italian Soda at Evangeline’s birthday party, and it was an immense hit :-) The kids were all so excited to make their own drinks, and some of my friends loved it so much that they are going to use the idea for their fundraising carnival at school ~ Sadly I was not able to get the ice maker here in time for the party, but I ran up to our local Sonic and bough 3 bags from them, and it was awesome.
      Thanks again for the idea :-) You both completely rock!

  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
    Becky says:

    Tiger Blood makes italian cream sodas sound even MORE edgy ;)

    We call these Cremosas at our house and love them! Sometimes I make my own syrup when I’m feel ambitious (or psychotic)!

  6. 6
    Tieghan says:

    This is so fun!

  7. 7
    Michelle says:

    Is it 3 pumps or 6 pumps of syrup? You have both down. ;). So excited to try this with my family.

    • 7.1
      sara says:

      She meant 6 pumps, which equals about 3 tablespoons, as explained in the post. The printable recipe is corrected :) Enjoy!

      • Kim says:

        I was confused too since the “story” said 3 and the recipe said 6. Thanks for the clarification. :-) Can’t wait to try!!

  8. 8
    Rachel says:

    We had an Italian cream soda bar at our wedding… with 2 cute bartenders (fellow BYU students). We picked the colors to match the flowers and they were yummy!

  9. 9
    Lisa says:

    We have italian sodas quite often during the summertime around my house. We add whipped cream on top and I’ll tell you what, it is delicious!

  10. 10
    Emily says:

    Last time we had these we used coconut milk in place of half and half. So yummy!

    • 10.1
      Valena says:

      Love this suggestion! I’m can’t do dairy, and now I’m dying to try this. Thanks Emily!

  11. 11
    Jaime says:

    We just recently moved from Ohio to Louisiana. You can’t live too far into the middle of nowhere if you still have a Kroger around! When we moved down here, I realized how isolated we would be. I would give anything to be close to a Kroger again!

    • 11.1

      It’s true…we could be more in the middle of nowhere, haha! We live in a very strange place shopping-wise–it’s a much smaller town than where I grew up, and there’s not much to do, and it’s not close to anything, but it has a Target, Kroger, and an Old Navy. But I still end up ordering 98% of anything other than regular groceries and toiletries; the stores are either depleted or just don’t seem to have the same stuff.

  12. 12
    Kylie says:

    Thanks so much for this! I am actually thinking about doing an italian soda bar at my wedding reception, as it is both mine and my fiance’s favorite drink we both crave often!

  13. 13
    Carolyn B. says:

    Add a wonderful squirt of canned whipped cream on the top and it is beautiful and delicious. We have done this for weddings and just about every summer party. I made a poster a couple of years ago with the directions on black chalkboard looking foam core board using a white chalkboard looking marker. I have kept it and put it up every time I serve Italian sodas. IT is GREAT!

    • 13.1
      Deborah Wellard says:

      We love Italian Sodas at my house too — at least once a week. I use 1 1/2 cups of club soda (cheapest at Winco if you have one) in a 16 oz. cup. Then I add 1/4 cup flavor of choice (fun to mix flavors), and 1/4 cup half-n-half. My favorite is blueberry-cheesecake. :) BTW,if you live near BOISE, IDAHO, the best/cheapest place to buy the syrups is at Cash and Carry (restaurant supply store). They have about 50 different flavors to choose from too.

  14. 14
    Renee says:

    The best Italian soda I ever had was blackberry lime – yummy!. My Italian friends always correct me; if it has half & half, it is a Cremosa (and then even yummier).

  15. 15
    Jerri C. TN says:

    Delicious!!!! Is that a Chevy Chevette? I had almost the exact looking ride in a beautiful shade of green :).

  16. 16
    Jennifer says:

    I so want to do this for my daughter’s birthday party. Are they still just as yummy with sugar free flavors? Or should I not consider that?

    • 16.1

      I often use sugar free syrups. They’re not quite as thick, and some have a funny aftertaste. They work okay, so if you need to use them for dietary purposes, go for it! Otherwise, stick to the good stuff ;)

  17. 17
    Deborah Wellard says:

    We love Italian Sodas at my house too — at least once a week. I use 1 1/2 cups of club soda (cheapest at Winco if you have one) in a 16 oz. cup. Then I add 1/4 cup flavor of choice (fun to mix flavors), and 1/4 cup half-n-half. My favorite is blueberry-cheesecake. :) BTW,if you live near BOISE, IDAHO, the best/cheapest place to buy the syrups is at Cash and Carry (restaurant supply store). They have about 50 different flavors to choose from too.

  18. 18
    Barbara G, AKA Momo says:

    I have syrups, I have half and half, and I have a SodaStream which makes sparkling water, so I am in biz big time! These sound lovely and cool, and I thank you for the recipe!

  19. 19
    Cami says:

    “Sara’s supersexy ice maker.” I am dying laughing! I, too, covet Sara’s ice maker.

  20. 20

    Great tutorial Kate! Did you ever consider adding some fresh cut strawberries or blueberries into the Italian Sodas?

  21. 21
    Laura says:

    The Tiger’s Blood flavor sounds delicious! Can’t wait to play around with all the different flavers

  22. 22
    Audrey Spence says:

    Okay so totally random bit of info about butcher paper… my husband works at our local newspaper and they do tons of printing. If you have a local paper or local printing place sometimes you can get their roll ends for free or a small fee. We use it a ton too and its handy for just about everything. I can get all kinds of paper… from thinner paper for newsprint to this nice thick book paper (which really comes in handy for homemade wrapping paper!) So anyway… just a thought if you didn’t know :)

  23. 23
    Heather Fernelius says:

    I too would like to know about the sugar free syrups. Has anyone tried these or have any advice. We try to go healthier if possible and our good friends’ daughter has just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and I hate for her to feel left out. Thanks!!

    • 23.1
      Erin says:

      I just made a strawberry coconut Cremosa with sugar free syrup, and it was delish! Go for it.

    • 23.2
      Christine says:

      We had sugar free Raspberry syrup at our party for my sister who is diabetic, and it was just as yummy as the regular :-)

    • 23.3

      Yep, many of the sugar free syrups taste just as great. They are a bit thinner, but for dietary purposes, feel free to use them!

  24. 24
    Lindsay P says:

    I just did these for our Sunday family dinner gathering last night and they were a BIG hit!! Thanks for the great idea!

  25. 25
    Wendy says:

    AWESOME idea for my daughter’s upcoming birthday, thanks for this post!

  26. 26
    Liz says:

    Hi, Kate! I am so excited about this post – I have been wanting to do these with our YW group, so the timing is great. :) I finally found a place that has the Torani coconut syrup in stock, and it’s even for a great price. They also have the pumps for a great price too $1.99/each, (they are for the Torani syrups) I noticed in your stash of syrups you have torani coconut and the rest are Stasero brand found at Gygi’s. my question for you is does that mean you find the Stasero syrups better, or did it just turn out that way by chance? Also, are the pumps interchangeable between Torani and Stasero, or not so much? I just realized how annoying I probably seem right now with all these questions. I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t want to answer!

    • 26.1

      Liz, I don’t think Kate saw this- she’s not ignoring you! I’m not sure if the pumps are interchangeable, but we do like several brands of syrups. Often it’s just a matter of finding specific flavors in specific brands, that’s all!

    • 26.2
      Sue K says:

      I was going to ask about the pumps as well. Do they tend to be a one size fits all thing?

      • No, they’re not always a one-size fits all thing. You’ll need to make sure you buy ones that clearly state that they’re made for the brand you are using. (I learned this the hard way!)

  27. 27
    Nicole says:

    I love the idea of the soda bar! I introduced italian sodas to my kids last summer, and they were so excited about them.

  28. 28
    Ann says:

    I’m surprised the fruity flavors are preferred among your friends. Whenever I do this, the biggest hits are almond, caramel, vanilla, etc!!

  29. 29
    Erika says:

    I had your EXACT car in college, color and everything. And I loved getting Italian sodas at the Salt Lake Roasting Company on 400 South in Salt Lake City when I was going to the University of Utah. Thanks for the post! It brought me back!

  30. 30
    Holly says:

    I’ve always LOVED Italian sodas and this post inspired me to track down the flavorings and make my own. I looked in lots of grocery stores (they all seem to be in the coffee aisle) but only ever found chocolate, vanilla, and hazelnut flavors. Finally I struck gold at World Market! They had about 20 flavors. We’ve been making Italian sodas every day now! The flavors are also awesome in snow cones or hot chocolate. Thanks for reminding me of this amazing thing!

  31. 31
    Kathleen says:

    I’m going to try these with coconut milk instead of half and half due to a milk allergy. We’ll see how it goes. Yum!

  32. 32
    Katja says:

    We had some friends over for family home evening and needed a special treat for after the lesson. Our friends that came over are on a gluten free, dairy free diet. I decided to take on the “challenge” (for me it is a challenge since we don’t have any allergies) to make a treat that worked for them. We made the italian soda bar. In addition to putting out the half and half I also got some coconut milk for our friends. It worked great and was a huge success. Thanks for the great recipe. (P.S.: we have had italian sodas daily since then :D)

  33. 33
    Andy Webber says:

    Cute! Love this. I now know what I will be making with the kids this weekend, thanks.

  34. 34
    Jill says:

    I tried these and they were wonderful, but I noticed that sometimes the half and half curdles or clumps together. Does anyone else have this problem and how do you solve it?

    • 34.1
      Juliana says:

      I have seen some sites say to mix the syrup and cream together first…maybe that will work?

  35. 35
    Juliana says:

    In your description you say that 3 pumps = 3 TBS but in the recipe instructions you say that 6 pumps = 3 TBS…just an FYI…

  36. 36
    Katrina says:

    Hi Kate,

    I wanted to gift my sister-in-law’s family ingredients for an Italian soda night for christmas! She has teenagers and I thought it would be fun for her family. My hope is that they will have a party together on New Year’s Eve with Italian Soda’s! We will see! When you say soda water, do you mean a club soda?? Thanks!!

  37. 37
    Lynn says:

    My son had an Italian soda bar at his 16th birthday. It was a hit! The only suggestion I have is to use lemon-lime flavored soda (sprite, 7-up, etc.). I had both soda water and 7-up. The kids much preferred the added sweetness of the 7-up over the soda water.

  38. 38
    Haley says:

    Where did you find those incredible cups? Also how much were they?

  39. 39
    Marilyn says:

    Cash and Carry has the biggest selections of syrups that I have ever seen!

  40. 40
    Janine says:

    In the text you mention 3 pumps=3 TBS, but the recipe says 6. Which do you usually use?

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