Yes, there's a lot of speculation as to where Italian Soda came from (Milan? Jersey Shore? your guess is as good as ours), but we know we love them. These are real deal Italian style with flavored simple syrup and quality sparkling water and, as soon as the weather warms up, we start in on simple syrups in prep for soda after soda, making anything from this easy Lemon-Mint combo or adding berries or other summer fruit to toast the warm weather.
plus some lemon slices for garnish
plus more for garnish
For the syrup: Remove the lemon peel in long strips, making sure to avoid the white pith. Juice the lemons (you'll need just about 1/2 cup juice). Meanwhile, bring the water and sugar or honey to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it comes to a simmer, stir until honey or sugar is dissolved.
Remove from heat, add the lemon peels, mint, and berries (if using) and set aside to steep for about 20 minutes. (Taste every few minutes until the syrup is distinctly flavored. You want the flavors powerful because flavors are always more muted when cold and mixed into a soda.) Once the mixture is desired flavor, pass it through a fine mesh strainer, pushing on the back of the berries and mint then discard them.
For the sodas: Add some syrup to a glass along with a tad bit of the lemon juice, ice, and then top with the sparkling water or club soda (go ahead and adjust the amounts of each ingredient to your personal preference). Add mint, berries, and lemon to garnish and serve.