Monday, September 10, 2012

How to Host an Epic Cheese Party: The Italian Sodas

This is part of series called How to Host an Epic Cheese Party. We'd love to hear your ideas and tips for throwing a cheese party! See other posts here and here.

The Italian Sodas

Did you know that this whole cheese party started long ago because of a couple of bottles of Torani Italian soda syrups my roommate left when she moved out? And since I'm not one to waste perfectly good syrup, I planned a theme party.

Torani flavors

Crazy, right?

People always seems to ask about how to make an Italian soda, so here's our shopping list and the directions:

Cups: We purchase 10 oz clear plastic cups at either Costco or your local restaurant supply store. We don't usually go larger only because if you have an assortment of syrups, people will come back for seconds and thirds to try out the different flavors. You can also use tall clear glasses if you're doing a smaller party at home. The Italian sodas come in pretty colors, so we prefer clear cups or glasses.

Straws: Bendy and colored straws are fun. I've never used the paper straws, though I absolutely love some of the fun patterns that are out there. Get the size that will fit your cup height.

Straws for mixing Italian sodas

Torani Italian Soda syrup, an assortment: You can buy these at the grocery store in the beverage or coffee aisle, but the syrups can be rather expensive ($6-$10/bottle) and the store likely will only have a small selection of flavors. Ask around at your neighborhood coffee shop or cafe and see where they get their syrups--I found my distributor this way and we have been buying the 750 mL bottles (25.4 oz) with Starnes Distributing in Salt Lake City for $4.75 for years now!

I would definitely get vanilla, amaretto, Irish cream, or creme de menthe; these flavors pair well with other flavors. Get one berry and one citrus flavor. Then get one weird flavor, like bacon, or chocolate, or toasted marshmallow. It will be a conversation starter, I promise. If you have more than 5 different flavors, write down the flavors on a poster board  or chalk board and display it. It sure beats having to repeat yourself a bazillion times.

Ice: Cubed ice works rather nicely. You don't necessarily want pebbled ice, because that may melt a little too quickly and dilute the drink.

Lee mixing it up!

Half & half or whipping cream: Either will work. We realized half & half was half the price of whipping cream, so we use half & half for bigger parties and whipping cream for smaller gatherings.

Carbonated water or seltzer water: You can get tonic water also, but that has quinine and a bunch of extra calories in it. I would stay away from the tonic water, unless you're doing your party in a malaria-infested area (ha ha!). We buy this in bulk at our Smith's Marketplace, since they sell  2-liters of generic carbonated or seltzer water for cheap.

Aerosolized whipped cream: We've never done this, but you can top the soda off with a little mound of whipped cream, because whipped cream is always good.

The cute bartender

A cute bartender: You'll want a person or two to man the Italian soda area if you're doing a large party. It makes for less waste and mess. Lee always takes this on only because he gets a chance to talk with everyone!

A jug of water (or two): Without fail, people will get sugared out, so have another refreshing option available.

Okay, now for how to make it--this little video should help; directions are listed below.

Directions (for a 10 oz glass):
  1. Add two or three ice cubes to cup.
  2. Add about 2 tablespoons of syrup.
  3. Add a splash of cream.
  4. Fill the cup up with carbonated water. 
  5. Stir well or instruct your guest to stir well with a straw. 
  6. Have them taste test the drink. Add more syrup and/or cream if needed.
  7. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.

We currently have over 30 different flavors that we've accumulated over the last few years. My favorite is vanilla and orange. It tastes like a Creamsicle when you add the half & half. What would you try if you had all these flavors?

Tomorrow, we'll talk about Cheese Idol (aka the cheesy talent show). See you then!


  1. I have a bunch of those laying around, I use them for lattes'. I'll give this a try!

  2. I like to make steamers with Irish Cream, it is awesome. Or I use the vanilla in my coke zero.

  3. Wow, I'd be pretty happy at that party! I love Italian Sodas :) Stopping by from SITS!

  4. I came for the cheese. I stayed for the soda. I had no idea that there was cream in an italian soda. Yum! Stopping by from SITS.


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