With the approach of warmer weather, I've been spending a lot more time perched on our patio, drink in one hand, book in the other. That drink is usually a long one, something thirst-quenching and relatively low in alcohol - a caress rather than a punch. Most recently, I've been experimenting with my beloved soda siphon, using it to construct pre-made carbonated cocktails.
Once you've got a decent set of bar tools and glassware, a soda siphon is a logical step in specialized equipment. Sure, they cost a little bit, and the chargers aren't free either, although you can find them cheap in bulk online. Yet a splash of soda water adds life and lightness to many drinks, and opens up a whole world of easy homemade sodas when you want (or need) something non-alcoholic. You can buy acrid, overly sharp soda water in bottles that go flat within hours of opening, or you can bite the bullet and invest in the tools to make your own on demand. I think it's obvious which route I recommend.
Not included in the manufacturer's directions (which you should obviously read) is the possibility for adding more than just water to your siphon. It's best not to use anything very acidic or thick, since you don't want to corrode or gum up the inner workings, but that still leaves a lot of room to maneuver. For example, I poured in a somewhat boring bottle of sweet rhubarb wine, augmented with a splash of crisp Sauvignon Blanc and topped off with water. After charging and letting rest in the fridge (which helps hold the carbonation better for some reason) I had a light and refreshing sparkling wine spritzer enjoyed by all.
Below is an example of a general formula I've hashed out over time. The proportions make for a light and refreshingly bitter highball, best served in a tall glass with plentiful ice. You can serve as much or as little as desired, and substitute ingredients to your whim.
This particular recipe is a riff on the Americano, the father of the Negroni, with a couple of well-placed accents. The weirdo total volume is because a 1-liter soda siphon holds slightly less than that when you account for a small amount of necessary airspace.
200 ml Aperol (or Campari)
100 ml gin (London Dry, Old Tom, or Hendrick's are all welcome)
50 ml maraschino liqueur (Luxardo, duh)
600 ml cucumber water
Pour into a 1-liter soda siphon, charge, and let chill for at least 2 hours. Pour slowly over plentiful ice and garnish with cucumber slices.
If you're not using a siphon, use the following proportions per serving.
1 1/3 oz Aperol; 2/3 oz gin; 1/3 oz Luxardo; 2 oz soda water; 2 oz cucumber water
Again, this is a formula highly amenable to substitution. Try the following combinations in the same proportions as above.
Cynar - silver tequila - St. Germain - cantaloupe water
Punt e Mes - blended scotch - Cointreau - lemon water
I have a few tonic recipes around and may try a precharged version soon. It's getting close to G&T season. In the meantime, any of these do very nicely.