How To Use Extracts to Flavor Drinks
with Stephanie Bullen
Chief Flavor Advisor
extract recipes extracts flavored drinks
If you love flavoring your beverages but don’t want added sugar, extracts are your answer! Whether you’re a sparkling water lover, a coffee drinker, or an iced tea sipper, we have some ideas for using extracts to flavor drinks. We spent some time in the test kitchen with a pot of coffee, a few cans of club soda and seltzer water, and a pitcher of iced tea to experiment with extracts for beverages. We found some surprising gems for flavoring drinks!
Generally, we found that the best approach was to start with 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of extract per glass of whatever you’re sipping, then add more extract as desired. The great thing about flavoring with extracts, since you’re using so little per serving, is that it’s easy to scale up for a big crowd – without any added expense!
*Extract Tip* Using extracts that are still fresh is important. If your flavor seems a little off, it might be time to freshen up your extracts. To keep citrus extracts fresh, we recommend storing them in your fridge.
We know you can use flavored syrups to jazz up your morning joe. But, if you’re like me, sometimes syrup is just too sweet. We stumbled on a few flavor surprises when experimenting with flavors for coffee. Brew your coffee as normal and then mix in some flavor to each cup.
- DIY Mocha: Using chocolate extract and a splash of milk or cream, you can make your own (less sweet) mocha inspired coffee. Add 1/2 teaspoon of chocolate extract to your cup of coffee, stir well, add milk/cream if desired, then taste. Add more extract (1/4 teaspoon at a time) until you get your perfect mocha-ish java.
- Nutty Coffee: You’ve probably heard of adding hazelnut or almond to coffee, so why not try another nutty flavor? Black walnut extract gives you a cozy (fall-like) flavor that is perfect for a cool, rainy morning. We suggest starting with 1/4 teaspoon and adding more as desired.
- Cinnamon Coffee: Ok, this one might stretch your comfort zone a bit – because cinnamon extract is a lot stronger than the ground cinnamon you might be used to adding. But if you already enjoy cinnamon in your coffee, you should experiment with using cinnamon extract to flavor coffee; you get the pure cinnamon flavor without the grittiness of ground cinnamon. Again, start very sparingly and add more if desired.
Here’s a budget friendly sparkling water hack…ditch those colorful cans and DIY. Buy a large bottle of unflavored club soda or seltzer water and add your own flavors with extracts. We found that the amount of extract needed varies depending on what flavor you are using and whether your soda is chilled or room temperature. A good rule of thumb is to start with 1/8 teaspoon of extract and work your way up. We found that a total of 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of extract per glass generally seemed about right.
*Extract Tip* One flavor is good but combining two or three together is awesome!
- Cherry-Almond: If you’ve ever tried (and loved) cherry vanilla soda, this one’s for you. With cherry extract + almond extract and no added sugar, it’s definitely a sparkling water not a soft drink but it has a crowd-pleasing flavor.
- Fruit Punch: Raspberry extract + orange extract + key lime extract = the sparkling water equivalent of fruit punch. With fruit flavored water, try freezing some raspberries and using them as ‘ice’ to chill your glass or just cut up some oranges and limes to add a splash of color. Party perfect presentation!
- Lavender-Lemon: Admittedly, this one might not be for everyone. But if you love our Lavender Vanilla Bean Sugar, you just might want to try lavender extract + lemon extract in your sparkling water. The lavender ends up being a more noticeable scent than flavor but gives the drink a floral note, while the lemon provides a classic base. We dressed ours up with a lemon wheel on the rim of the glass.
While there are endless flavored tea options, you definitely won’t have shelf space for all of the varieties out there. We started with unsweetened tea, mixed in extracts (1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon per glass), added honey powder to sweeten, and topped it off with ice. Our resident tasters were quick to grab a glass! Again, try a combination of flavors to suit your taste. While the flavors listed below are single extracts, we started mixing them (ginger & spearmint, raspberry & lemon) and really enjoyed the different and unique combinations. Perhaps the best thing about using extracts to flavor your iced tea is that you can easily make a large batch for a party – using less than a single bottle of extract!
- Green Tea + Ginger: Ginger extract has the same bold flavor as ground or fresh ginger but isn’t quite as spicy, which makes it great for mixing into drinks.
- Green Tea + Spearmint: If you’ve ever tried a Moroccan mint tea, this flavor combination will be familiar. The spearmint extract enhances the already refreshing qualities of iced green tea. Try this with your favorite curry dish for a festive feast.
- Black Tea + Raspberry: This combination seems to be a restaurant favorite and it’s easy to replicate at home with a dash of raspberry extract. If you prefer your tea sweetened, stir in some honey powder.
- Black Tea + Lemon: Ok, this is a classic. We did find that, even if you typically prefer your tea unsweetened, you might want to add a pinch of honey powder (or sugar) to balance the tartness of the lemon extract. The flawless flavor combination has also inspired us to try key lime extract and various citrus inspired combinations as well.
Whether you’re looking for something for the kids, a little adult beverage, or just something different, we have some great drink recipe flavored with extracts. Perhaps you’ve sampled one or two of these in our stores. While we have provided some flavoring suggestions to get you started, use these as inspiration to create your own concoctions.
- Homemade Cool-Ade: Kool Ade, Cool Ade, Cool Aid, Kool Aid, Cool-Ade…however you spell it, it’s a summertime favorite. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t until we sampled this recipe that I realized there was a way to DIY. We used a combination of raspberry extract and key lime extract, but try your favorites. It’s also not so brightly colored, so you won’t have to stress about spills!
- Sports Splasher: This is a great drink for hot summer afternoons. Made with orange extract, honey powder, and sea salt, it's a DIY alternative to a bottled, sugary sports drink.
- Spiced Iced Cider: Cider and mulling spices aren’t just for winter. This iced version of our mulled cider is brightened up with the addition of fresh oranges and cherry extract.
- Avery’s Cherry-Lime “Mocktail”: While this drink was created by a talented young person, it’s not just a “kids’ drink”. A cherry-lime syrup made with cherry extract and key lime extract is used to flavor sparkling water Yum! This is a great after-dinner drink. (And if you want to spike it with your favorite spirit, I won’t tell anyone!)
We love to share recipes. So, if you have a favorite flavored drink, tell us about it!