How To: Italian Soda Bar

Italian Sodas are a popular coffee shop drink made with flavored syrups, seltzer water, and a splash of something creamy (I’ll share a couple different ideas below!) This is one of our favorite things to do at parties and gatherings. An Italian soda bar is a fun way for people to create their own drink combinations with a few basic ingredients. Keep a few bottles of flavored syrup around and you can whip these up any time! Read below for lots of tips and tricks to make these for a crowd.

Ingredient and Equipment Notes

  • Ice – any type of ice will do, but I particularly like pebble-style ice. If you don’t own a pebble ice maker, you can buy inexpensive bags of ice from Sonic. For a party-style Italian soda bar, place ice in a cooler or large bowl with a scoop.
  • Cups – if I’m making these for a party, or particularly for groups of kids, I prefer plastic cups with lids. Restaurant Supply Stores are a great source for these. My preference is 16-20oz cups. Sometimes it’s tempting to get the largest cups available, but remember that larger cups just mean more ingredients used, so they will get used up faster.
  • Strawsstraws aren’t just fun to drink with, they’re necessary to stir the Italian Sodas. If you don’t have straws, you’ll need something available to stir.
  • Flavored Syrups – these are the style of syrups used at coffee shops. They are shelf stable and come in lots of flavors. My favorite source for flavored syrups is local restaurant supply stores, and you can also order from Amazon! For a soda bar I highly recommend also purchasing pump tops for your bottles.
  • Carbonated Water – anything fizzy! Seltzer water is the inexpensive standard and you can purchase it in 2 liter bottles for a crowd. Something like Topo Chico looks a little fancier if you want it to look extra nice. Another option is lightly flavored carbonated waters like LaCroix. Even if you hate drinking them on their own, they’re perfect for Italian sodas because you’ll be adding sweetness to them and they just add a slight hint of flavor to the overall drink. You can even use less-traditional but super delicious options like Fresca (my favorite) or 7-up or Sprite.
  • Half and Half – at the end you’ll add a shot of something creamy. Half and half works great, but another fun option are flavored coffee creamers- Coconut is my favorite!

How to Make and Italian Soda

  1. Fill a cup about half full with ice.
  2. Add several pumps of flavored syrup. The exact ratios will be to preference. I’ve found I like a couple tablespoons (4-6 pumps) of syrup for a 20oz cup. You can always add more after stirring!
  3. Fill your cup almost full with your carbonation of choice.
  4. Add a shot of half and half or flavored creamer (about a tablespoon) and stir.
  5. Give it a taste and adjust ingredients as needed!

Tips for setting up an Italian Soda Bar

  • Less is More – It’s tempting to have 10+ flavors out for variety, but I’ve found for and Italian soda bar for a large group, it’s great to stick to just a few that can be mixed and matched and are delicious in any combination. It keeps the line moving and decreases decision fatigue. I like to pick one berry flavor like blackberry, raspberry, strawberry or huckleberry. One other fruit or citrus flavor, like peach, lime, lemon or blood orange, and one creamy flavor– like coconut or vanilla.
  • Help with Measuring – With direction, people can eyeball syrup and seltzer, but it helps to have a small shot-glass style measuring cup with the creamer/half and half. People often add way too much of this, overpowering the flavor of the syrup and causing them to go back and add more and more flavor.
  • Give Instructions – Many people will see these ingredients and know exactly what to do, but others will feel lost. Print out instructions for how to make an Italian Soda, or cover your table with brown paper and write it right on the table!
italian sodas in glasses

Love Fun Fizzy Drinks? Here’s a few more you might like!

Virgin Mojitos

Dirty Diet Coke

Strawberry Coconut Lime Spritzer

pouring cream into an Italian soda

How To: Italian Sodas

Perfect for a party (and so much easier to pull off than you might think!) Perfect to make at home for one, or to serve a crowd.
Total Time 1 minute


  • Clear Cups with Lids I prefer 20 oz
  • Straws
  • Flavored Syrups
  • Ice preferably crushed or pebble style
  • Soda water/sparkling water/seltzer
  • Half and half or creamer


  • Fill cup about half way with ice.
  • Add several pumps of flavored syrup (start with 4-6 for a 20 oz cup)
  • Add sparkling water about 1-1 1/2" from the top.
  • Add a splash of half and half (about 1 tablespoon).
  • Stir with a straw and serve!



  • Berry flavored syrups work the best, other flavors are fun for mixing and matching.
  • Coffee creamer also works as a great cream option.
  • In place of sparkling water, you can use lightly flavored options like LaCroix, or even Fresca, Sprite, or Ginger Ale.
  • feel free to use Feel free to mix and match flavors or add fresh fruit garnishes like cherries, strawberries, or lime or lemon wedges.
Author: Our Best Bites
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

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

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

  5. 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!

    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!

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

      1. 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!)

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

  7. 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!!

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

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

    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!

  8. 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 🙂

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

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

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

    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 😉

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

  15. 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).

  16. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. Thanks for the tip have a cash and carry, right across from us, and I’ve never been..m

  17. 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!

  18. 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!

    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.

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

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

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

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

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

  22. 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)!

  23. 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!

    1. 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!

  24. 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!