The cream soda pop bottled on the Mississippi Gulf Coast was a bright ruby red, writes Martha Hall Foose in her book, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook (Clarkson Potter, 2008). This dazzling drink came in bottles that were faceted on the sides like cut gems, with blue and white painted script that glowed when the bottles were turned upside down and their contents gulped down in the sunshine. A shot of cherry juice adds the bright color to this rendition of that Mississippi summertime childhood favorite.
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/4 tablespoon of almond extract
1/4 cup cherry juice**
1 quart soda water
1. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water and the sugar. Add the vanilla bean. Boil over medium heat for 2 minutes or until the mixture is reduced to a thin syrup.
2. Remove the vanilla bean. Rinse in hot water. Set aside to air-dry and save for another use.
3. Allow the syrup to cool. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts and the cherry juice.
4. Pour 2 tablespoons of the cherry-vanilla syrup over ice cubes in a tall glass and fill with soda water. Stir to combine. Serve with a silly straw.
Yield: Serves 8
**Note: "Look for cherry juice in the natural foods section of the market if it is not in the juice aisle. If you can’t find cherry juice in your market, substitute a few drops of grenadine."
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