Soft Drink Tips
"The ingredients required for brewing soft drinks are a liquid, sugar, yeast, and flavoring. 'Liquid' usually is water, but can also be fruit juice or a decoction from a vegetable or sap. 'Sugar' supplies flavor for the palate and food for the yeast. It comes in many forms, all of them suitable for soft drinks: white or brown sugar, syrups such as corn syrup, molasses, or honey. 'Yeast' creates the fiz (and if desired, the alcohol) in the liquid. Brewers' or wine yeast can be used, and is best for alcoholic beverages because it is cultured for consistency, but bakers' yeasts (cake powder or liquid) are less expensive and quite adequate for making soft drinks. Natural 'flavorings' generally contain acids whose tartness is balanced against the sweetness of sugars to achieve the ultimate flavor. Flavoring may be accomplished with distilled or other types of commercial extracts; or fruits, herbs, conifer needles, or spices can be cooked in the liquid to extract their flavor, then strained out."
"Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) has been banned by the FDA as a flavoring in root beer because its oil contains about 80 percent saffrole, a carcinogen (if used regularly, in large quantities, over a long period) and liver toxin." ..."However, saffrole is also a component of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum), black pepper (Piper nigrum), cocoa (Theobroma cacao), nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), star anise (Illicium verum), and California bay (Umbellularia californica)." ..."Sassafras root is available and has been included in our recipe for root beer; if you plan to drink this beverage regularly, a 'safrole-free' sassafras is available."
"The alcoholic content of a carbonated drink is determined by the amount of time the yeast is allowed to react with the sugar. If the reaction is allowed to run its course, the yeast will consume virtually all of the sugar; about half of the sugar will be converted to alcohol and half to carbon dioxide. If the process is terminated early (by bottling), only a small amount of fermentation will have occurred (enough to carbonate the liquid), and the result will be an essentially nonalcoholic drink."
..."you can taste the flavored and sweetened liquid before adding the yeast, and adjust to suit your palate. If it's too sweet, add some lemon juice; if it's too sour, add sweetener; if the flavor is too weak, add more of the flavoring ingredients."
"If a sediment develops on the bottoms of your bottles, carefully pour the liquid from each bottle into a large pitcher before serving, leaving the sediment in the bottle."
..."The recipes here have been adjusted for minimal fermentation; even so, more than a few of our test bottles exploded dramatically under the hot lights of the photography studio. Our advice: store your soft drinks where just in case, they wont damage anything.
Here are some excerpts from the Herbal Soft Drinks article, along with sources and bottling tips.