Introduction: How to Make Cola Syrup

Picture of How to Make Cola Syrup

Coca Cola have always kept the recipe for their legendary drink under lock and key. Nobody to this day has accurately replicated the wonderful flavours that are in store bought coca cola. Over the years however it has become slightly boring to me and I've always wondered if it's possible to make something similar at home.

I am a big fan of Botanical drinks and Fentimans in the UK make a wonderful botanical cola. Basically Coca Cola the company now use almost entirely chemical formulas and dried powers to make their legendary beverage but it is also possible to create a replica using actual fruits, sugars and spices.

This instructable will show you how to make a Cola syrup using ingredients that are easily available in most stores and using techniques that won't baffle even the most laymen's of cooks.

It's a greatly satisfying venture and I can guarantee you will be proud of the result. I invited friends over to sample the cola one summers afternoon and I can assure it went down a treat.

This instructable has been adapted from Brooklyn Pharmacy & Soda Fountain Brooklyn.

Step 1: Gather Ingredients & Utensils

Picture of Gather Ingredients & Utensils

Okay so the ingredients for this are not what you'd expect to go into Cola. A couple of the ingredients are harder to source than the rest, but mostly you can get hold of them easily.

Grated zest - 2 Medium Oranges

Grated zest - 1 Large Lime

Grated zest - 1 Large Lemon

1/8tsp - Ground Cinnamon

1/8tsp - Ground Nutmeg (preferably fresh)

1 section of a star anise pod, crushed

1/2tsp - Dried Lavender Flowers

2tsp - Preferably fresh Minced Ginger (I used jarred stem ginger and chopped it finely)

One-and-a-half inch piece of Vanilla bean, spilt

1/4tsp - Citric Acid

2 cups + 2tbsp - Plain Sugar

1tbsp - Brown or Demerara Sugar

Options 3/4tsp - caramel colouring

The citric acid can be bought at most health food stores or the homebrew section of some supermarkets. I got mine from Tesco in the home wine making isle. Dedicated homebrew shops will almost certainly sell this also.

The Dried lavender I sourced from my garden. I happen to have some lavender growing in my back garden. So I simply picked some of the flowers and dried them in my fan oven at 100•c. I left the door open slightly as to avoid burning them. I kept checking to check when they had dried and then took them out and jarred them in an old empty spice jar. If you don't have lavender growing in your garden you can source this from health food stores and other similar shops. I haven't tried this recipe without the lavender but if you fail at finding this I'm sure the syrup will still taste delicious.

I didn't use the food colouring. I'm a big fan of no artificial colouring foods and drinks so opted to leave this out. It does give the cola a good dark caramel colour if you so desire, as without this the recipe makes for a very pale orange coloured cola.

Utensils needed

Zester or fine grater

Tsp and tbsp measurements

Heavy based pan

Large bowl


Muslin or cheesecloth

Step 2: Boil and Simmer

Picture of Boil and Simmer

In a heavy based pot over a medium heat, bring 2 cups of water to a simmer.

Add the zests, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, lavender, ginger, vanilla pod and citric acid.

Reduce to a lower heat, cover and leave to simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Step 3: Whirl Sugars

Picture of Whirl Sugars

If you have a food processor to hand it is best to whirl the sugars together then transfer them to a large bowl.

If you don't have a food processor simply transfer the sugars to a large bowl and mix them together with a spoon or by hand. It's being dissolved at a later stage so this doesn't make much difference.

If you are using the food colouring add this to the sugars at this stage.

Step 4: Prepare Sieve and Strain

Picture of Prepare Sieve and Strain

Line a sieve or colander with a double thickness of cheesecloth or muslin. Place this on top of the bowl containing the sugars.

Once the ingredients have simmered for 20 minutes pour them through the lined sieve onto the sugars.

Gather up the corners of the cheesecloth or muslin and twist the top making sure to squeeze all of the lovely flavourful goodness out of the cloth. You can press the cloth against the side of the bowl with a spoon to squeeze and remaining juices as to not burn your hands.

Step 5: Stir and Dissolve

Picture of Stir and Dissolve

Stir the sugars and the flavourful hot liquid until the sugars are dissolved. This can take a few minutes as there is a lot of sugar.

Step 6: Chill and Enjoy!!

Picture of Chill and Enjoy!!

Jar the syrup and chill in the fridge. Once chilled, mix 1/4 cup of syrup with 1 cup of soda water (seltzer). It doesn't taste like store bought cola very much but the flavours in this drink seem to scream COLA!! It is very pale in colour but that's because the real stuff has dark food colourings in it. This is how it should look. It's the closest you're going to get at home using real and fresh ingredients.

I'm sure if you added some extra vanilla flavouring you could make vanilla cola. And mixing it with Rum is delicious.

Serve ice cold and enjoy your home made Cola.


get a life14 (author)2013-12-16

I tried it. soooo delicious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

god1066 (author)get a life142014-12-15

I'm glad you liked it ! :)

CraftyZA (author)2018-01-11

I wonder if joe public can get their hands on denatured coca...

justeen_n (author)2017-01-06

Just wondering, why the need for citric acid. I usually make sodas using a ginger bug which provides probiotic goodness and fizziness. Could I omit the citric acid in my case?

AndrewR273 (author)justeen_n2017-08-21

Just to add some acidity. Store-bought colas have phosphoric acid, which can be particularly bad for your bones and teeth.

dankozi713 (author)2017-06-09

I made this with a little more demerara and less white sugar and it was awesome! I also substituted Mexican vanilla since legit vanilla beans are quite expensive nowadays. Great Instructable!!

PaulC488 (author)2017-04-12

Not all additives or colourings are artificial, the brown colouring used in cola, gravy browning etc is caramel, perfectly natural many "e numbers" are from a natural source also.

Eogeaux (author)2017-03-01

The NYT published this exact recipe

god1066 (author)Eogeaux2017-03-01

For example, the NYT don't give details on how to dry lavender or what to replace certain ingredients with if not available. There are numerous other adaptations and changes within this version of the recipe.

god1066 (author)Eogeaux2017-03-01

Indeed. I do say this at the end of the instructable :) this is just an adaptation with slightly more detailed info designed for the Instructables format.

leesnep (author)2015-06-26

I made ours with all brown sugar, no lemon, (tree is young) home grown limes and tangelo zest. Pinched some flowers from the neighbour's lavender (with permission of course). Tonight we will have some with home made rum and filtered rain water soda stream.The syrup tastes really yummy.

deedeedoyle (author)leesnep2017-02-09

How do you make home made rum??? Yum!!!

deedeedoyle (author)2017-02-09

How much does Grated zest - 2 Medium Oranges, Grated zest - 1 Large Lime,
Grated zest - 1 Large Lemon yield? 2 TBL, 1/8 cup, 1/4th cup??? I'm gathering all the ingredients! So excited to try this! :)

mriley1 (author)2017-02-05

JacieT (author)2016-06-14

I love that I can make a yummy flavored syrup that is made from healthy ingredients. My family will love it when I make them cola-flavored drinks! Do you have any other flavors you can make?

god1066 (author)JacieT2016-06-14

Hi Jacie,

I'm glad that you like my recipe! It really is great for parties and other get-togethers. Sadly I haven't looked in to making any other flavours but I'm sure that with some experimentation you could easily design lots of different syrups. I intend to do so myself at some point. For now, I will be interested to see what you come up with! :)

freebird44805 (author)god10662016-08-14

I'm going to try this, except, I don't like lavender. Has anyone tried it with and without the lavender and can tell me the taste difference?

I've searched all over the net and so far, this sounds like the easiest recipe.


I feel the same way, as I am allergic to lavender, however I haven't tried it yet without. Even with the lavender, it doesn't make me sick and it tastes just like coke, so you should be fine because you can't taste it.

JamesT46 (author)2015-08-18

FYI you can't swap bad granulated sugar with better coconut sugar.

tpeters8 (author)JamesT462016-05-04

bad granulated sugar? you do know that the differences between coconut sugar and granulated are so miniscule that you would have to eat about a pound to actually gain any of the advertised nutrients. just because someone on tv says its good/better for you, doesnt mean it is.

god1066 (author)JamesT462015-08-20

lol oh well. It was worth the try I guess ;-)

bryanbrews (author)2016-02-17

This is amazing! How long will the syrup last before it doesn't taste fresh anymore??

god1066 (author)bryanbrews2016-02-17

Sadly I can't say! It lasts for a long time because of the amount of sugar present in the syrup. But in terms of "freshness" I'm not sure. It tastes great months after being made. Like most syrups it just lasts :)

FabioB18 (author)2015-10-29

I made a very similar syrup using your recipe as a very very rough guide and i think i found a solution to your natural caramel-colour dilemma. When you add in the sugar, bring the syrup back to a simmer, and add small amounts of water occasionally to make sure it doesn't candy. As the sugar cooks, it naturally caremlises and brings the syrup to this beautiful dark golden brown colour. All-natural!

god1066 (author)FabioB182015-10-29

Sounds very interesting! I shall have to try this method. I didn't even try to solve it to be honest, I didn't think it was possible. I hope the recipe tasted enough like cola to satisfy :)

HawkinsA1 (author)2015-07-11

I've made with the fruit juice as well as zest, without lavender or citric acid. Now trying with these ingredients and real vanilla too. Thanks it's great to have a mixer for whisky & rum that's not the evil one!

god1066 (author)HawkinsA12015-08-20

Yeah sounds like a plan! Let me know how it goes :)

NetWt4Lbs (author)2014-01-21

Hmmmmm...I almost wonder if you could get some of the deeper color and flavor from a dollop of molasses...
This sounds like a very interesting recipe to try, thanks for posting!! :-)

god1066 (author)NetWt4Lbs2015-08-20

Thanks very much! Please let me know how it goes with the molasses :)

ffcabral (author)2014-01-13

This is very interesting because it's basically all natural, and I believe the most harmful stuff in there is all the white sugar (that's inevitable, I guess). So it's a good alternative to store-bought stuff that's full of chemicals when we're craving some soda. I'm gonna try it!

god1066 (author)ffcabral2015-08-20

Yeah it's the most natural I could come up with :) please let me know how it goes!

HawkinsA1 (author)2015-07-11

samuel.reisetter (author)2015-04-01

how long would it last? Can it be made without vanilla beans?

gina.baldock (author)2014-09-20

Well, I made this for my cola addicted husband as I have wanted a healthier option for him for ages. This recipe is spot on and really delicious. To me it tastes like cola bottle fizzy juice! Just awesome, thank you for posting.

god1066 (author)gina.baldock2014-12-15

I'm glad you liked it :) thanks for the comment. Much appreciated.

MrFuzzy (author)2013-12-17

Where is your marvellous Tesco that stocks booze making supplies? Mine is nowhere near as good.

god1066 (author)MrFuzzy2014-04-28

Hey sorry for the insanely late response. The Tesco is in Hull :)

BayRatt (author)2013-12-17

What fun! I will have to give this a try sometime!

stoeff (author)2013-12-12

I made some today. Nice :)
Though I left out lavender and lime peel but added a dried fig instead... It still tastes like cola in a way.
Thank you for the inspiration!

god1066 (author)stoeff2013-12-16

Great stuff. I haven't tried the recipe without the lavender or lime peel so i would be interested to see how that turned out. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It does indeed taste of Cola, just not in the way you would expect. Its just got flavors that make sense when you think of Cola. Nonetheless it makes a nice drink either way.

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