Strawberry Rhubarb Italian Sodas (and Margaritas!)

by jenna on April 30, 2012

I’ve got a nasty sinus infection and all I want is pho, graham crackers, buttery movie popcorn, dr.pepper and Italian soda. It seems like I get one of these every year around this time…right when allergy season is in full force. They always come on so suddenly and before I know it, I’m in my sweatpants from 12th grade, hugging my cat with piles of tissues surrounding me.

Thank goodness I have a cat that loves to cuddle. Now if I could only train him to get me Thai take-out….

I know I’ve told you guys about my love affair with Italian sodas before….about how they remind me of walking to British Literature class in Charleston because my route always took me right past the best little coffee shop (at the bottom of the Francis Marion hotel before it turned to Starbucks!) that made every flavor of Italian soda under the sun and had crunchy ice to boot! It’s all about the crunchy ice.

Italian sodas are super easy to make at home, you just need to prepare some fruity simple syrup and have some sparkling water on hand.

I chose fresh strawberries and rhubarb because I spotted some of both at the farmer’s market last week that were just begging to be used in something fruity and fun.

To make the simple syrup, I just sliced up a carton of strawberries along with two large stalks rhubarb and placed them in a pot with a cup and a half of sugar and a cup and a half of water. The general rule for simple syrup is using the same amount of water and sugar.

Twenty minutes later and I had this gorgeous ruby-colored syrup, perfect for my Italian soda!

Other great uses for this simple syrup would be using it to make Strawberry Rhubarb Margaritas! Just add in about two ounces of this syrup to your tequila along with triple sec, lime juice and ice. Perfect for Cinco de Mayo, no?

But since I’ve been home nursing my sinus infection, it’s Italian sodas for me.

Strawberry Rhubarb Italian Sodas

makes about 2 cups simple syrup, good for about 8 drinks

Print this recipe!


2 large stalks rhubarb, chopped

16 oz fresh strawberries, sliced

1.5 cups water

1.5 cups sugar

drop of red food coloring (optional)

sparkling water for serving


Combine rhubarb, strawberries, water and sugar in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until fruit has broken up. Add red food coloring if you wish. Strain syrup twice, once through a colander and once through a sifter. You can keep the fruit you strained out—it’s perfect to top pancakes or waffles with!

Place double strained syrup in a jar and let chill thoroughly.

To assemble sodas, fill a glass with sparkling water and ice. Add 1/4-1/3 cup simple syrup (depending on how sweet you like your soda). Enjoy!

**You can also use this simple syrup to make Strawberry Rhubarb Margaritas! Yum.


3 hours (includes time to chill simple syrup)



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{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

Averie @ Averie Cooks April 30, 2012 at 3:35 am

Hope your sinus infection clears up and this should help…it looks wonderful, Jenna.

Love the making margaritas out of it idea :)


laura April 30, 2012 at 4:11 am

Oh noes, a sinus infection. that’s terrible. hopefully you’ll be better soon lady!


Hilliary@Brunch and Cupcakes April 30, 2012 at 4:35 am

These sound delicious! Perfect for summer! I would love to make this syrup for Margaritas this weekend! Thanks for sharing!


lisa April 30, 2012 at 5:07 am

oh yum! and i totally remember that coffee shop in charleston. i miss it down there.


Joelle (on a pink typewriter) April 30, 2012 at 5:14 am

My allergies are horrible right now, so I feel ya.. That strawberry/rhubarb mix looks gorgeous – I love the color!


Serena April 30, 2012 at 5:24 am

I bet that would make a delicious margarita. Rhubarb is so underrated.


jenna April 30, 2012 at 5:33 am

i’m fighting the same thing. no fun. this sda and some pho sounds like a great remedy!


Lisa April 30, 2012 at 5:35 am

Hope you feel better soon! Is Adam nursing you back to health? lol Guys are never really good at that are they?


Jen April 30, 2012 at 5:37 am

Holy photos. I don’t know how you do it but you seem to one-up ever post with such vibrant pictures.


Elisse April 30, 2012 at 5:43 am

I really miss the south and all the coffee shops that sold italian soda. They are not as common here on the west coast. I really want to give this a try. Sounds delicious!!


Liz @ IHeartVegetables April 30, 2012 at 5:49 am

Crunchy ice makes all the difference, that’s for sure. This looks DELICIOUS! I’ll have to keep it in mind as a perfect summer cool down!


Amanda at the red table April 30, 2012 at 5:58 am

These look stellar! Yum!


Elisabeth April 30, 2012 at 6:09 am

Same sinus infection thing happens to me when the allergens start getting heavy….feel better!


Cait's Plate April 30, 2012 at 6:11 am

I’ve never worked with rhubarb – it scares me a little bit just because I’ve never really dealt with it. But for this? I think I could absolutely get over that fear!


amy walters, aDESIGNdock April 30, 2012 at 6:20 am

Hope you feel better soon Jenna!
These photos are gorgeous. I simply love your food styling and photography. Your shots get me every.single.time. Thanks always. xo


amy walters, aDESIGNdock April 30, 2012 at 6:24 am

Hope you feel better soon Jenna!
These photos are gorgeous. I simply love your food styling and photography. Your shots get me every.single.time. Thanks always.


Margarita April 30, 2012 at 6:34 am

Feel better soon Jenna! Your Italian soda looks like it could cure anything though!


Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) April 30, 2012 at 6:53 am

Your drinks always look so darn delicious! Feel better!


molly April 30, 2012 at 6:58 am

WHOA these look amazing!!


Megan {Country Cleaver} April 30, 2012 at 7:29 am

I’m all over these beauties!! I have a feeling I’m going to be enjoying about cinco of these on my de Mayo!


Carrie April 30, 2012 at 7:36 am

Sounds like such a great drink for the summer!


elizabeth @ chronic venture April 30, 2012 at 7:37 am

absolutely amazinggggg! I love strawberry and rhubarb–and I need a sip of this right about now!


Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables April 30, 2012 at 7:41 am

looks delicious-hope you feel better! sinus infections are the worst.


Melissa @ Squats and Squash April 30, 2012 at 7:45 am

these look SO GOOD!!! i will be making them ASAP, seeing as how it’s already feeling like summer here in Texas!!

Feel better soon!


Lori @ RecipeGirl April 30, 2012 at 8:13 am

What a beautiful drink! And I’m loving the idea of making margaritas out of this!


DessertForTwo April 30, 2012 at 8:37 am

Love these!

I had the same sore throat-turned into sinus infection thing. The worst part is (do you really want to know?): the cough doesn’t go away for 2 weeks. Even after you start feeling better, you get the urge to cough everytime you open your mouth. I finally shook it for good, took almost 2 weeks!

I love that you’re always doing something original on your blog. When everyone is doing s’mores, you’re not. When everyone is obsessing over cookie butter, you’re not. I want you to know that I look up to you and I try to do the same thing with my blog! You’re inspirational :)

Feel better soon!


Sharon April 30, 2012 at 8:51 am

I just finished still Alice. I started it yesterday and finished this morning. Gread recommendation girl. Love when you review books because I know I will love them. Hope you get to feeling better!


Liz @ Tip Top Shape April 30, 2012 at 8:56 am

This really is simple to make! Great recipe! And I hope you’re feeling better!!


Urban Wife April 30, 2012 at 9:01 am

Feel better soon, Jenna! I love the simplicity of Italian sodas. Yum.


Koko April 30, 2012 at 9:05 am

I am SO in the same boat as you Jenna. Being sick is no fun at all….but just looking at these makes me perk up! And I have rhubarb in the garden, how convenient :-)


Maria April 30, 2012 at 9:16 am

We have four rhubarb plants! I know what I am making!


Sharon April 30, 2012 at 9:24 am

Oh this looks so good! Love Italian sodas…I particularly like blood orange Italian soda! Could you give us a recipe for using this syrup in a Margarita? I have never really made them and don’t know the proportions of the ingredients you mentioned….

Isn’t it funny how sinus infections make you crave pho? I think the combination of warm broth and the spiciniess somehow seems particularly soothing…I totally crave pho when I am sick too.


Lea @ iCooklea April 30, 2012 at 10:21 am

Try a steam therapy for your sinus infection – totally clears you up. I feel your pain, currently writing w/ a box of tissues 😉
Looks wonderful!


BevMo! April 30, 2012 at 10:35 am

oooooh! That looks fantastic. We’ll definitely try the simple syrup in a margarita. YUM!


Angela @ Happy Fit Mama April 30, 2012 at 11:34 am

I’ve only had one sinus infection in my life and it was the worst pain ever!! Hope you feel better soon!

I actually made something very similar to this last year during Rhubarb season. It’s so good! Perfect for relaxing or if you need a cold fruity drink to make you feel better.


Michelle April 30, 2012 at 11:50 am

Oh man, I too am nursing one nasty sinus infection and ear infection. These look amazing. I will have to ask the boy to make the simple syrup tonight! Pho is totally my go to when sick food! Feel better!


Tara@Sugar Spice and Bacon April 30, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Bummer! Hope you feel better:)
As for me, I am feeling great so I might have to have a strawberry rhubarb marg for you!
Oh, and I also think there is no substitute for crunchy ice!


Kristen @ notsodomesticated April 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Yum!! I am loving anything with strawberries right now. A friend gave me homemade strawberry jam yesterday, and it’s just SO good!! :)


Julia {The Roasted Root} April 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I have not had an Italian soda in YEARS! My friends and I in high school would go to this coffee shop…I always got vanilla caramel with cream and whipped cream on top. Sooo delicious! Thanks for the stroll down memory lane :) And the margaritas….mmm…can’t wait for cinco de mayo! So creative adding the rhubarb for a seasonal drink. Love it!


Kristen @ notsodomesticated April 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Yum! I am loving strawberries right now. And this looks delicious!


Maddy April 30, 2012 at 1:56 pm

so summery and fresh! I can’t wait to make these for my friends. They are beautiful!


Annie @ What's Annie Making? April 30, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I’m sorry you’re feeling so sick! I just had to switch my allergy meds because mine were so bad this year. I hope you feel better soon. These look absolutely beautiful! I would have never thought about rhubarb in italian soda.


Laura @ A Healthy Jalapeño April 30, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Jenna these look amazing, I have to try this!!!


Moni Meals April 30, 2012 at 3:00 pm

these would be killer for Cinco de Mayo! Perfect.

Hope you fell better soon, those can be so frustrating.


Betsy April 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I just pre-ordered your book and I can’t hardly wait to read it! You are truly an inspiration 😉 keep it up!
huge fan!


Leslie Means @ Her View From Home April 30, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I love your pics!!! This looks awesome!


Jessica @ GardenGastronomy April 30, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Have you tried a Netti pot for the sinus infection? I used to get them all the time and it really helped me with both sinus infections and allergies. Freaky and weird to use at first, but it’s not THAT bad….

I’m always looking for new ways to use rhubarb, because I think it’s so pretty. I’m so making this for an upcoming garden potluck!


Katy @ Couch to 5Katy April 30, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I have only had rhubarb once before until this weekend when I had it in wine form and atop another cocktail at a wedding. It seems kind of intimidating, anything special that you have to do with the rhubarb to wash it or anything?


Maria April 30, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Italian soda is so delicious. Your plan for recuperation sounds top notch.


Mo April 30, 2012 at 10:57 pm

If you are ever in Arizona (the Phx area)…you HAVE to try Hava Java (it’s my version of your Flying Goat Coffee). It’s located on 32nd street and Camelback (write it down! write it down!). Their espresso blend is truly the best I’ve ever had and it is by far the best iced white chocolate latte I’ve ever had. My little brother adores their italian sodas. You’d also love their chocolate croissants and probably everything about the little shop down to the artwork that they put on the walls.


Katrina May 1, 2012 at 5:28 am

This looks lovely! Yum!


Christina May 1, 2012 at 6:05 am

Have you ever used a neti pot? The same thing used to happen to me (sinus infection at the beginning of allergy season, and after I had a cold of any kind)- since I started using a neti pot I haven’t gotten a single sinus infection.


Stefanie May 1, 2012 at 9:46 am

These look delish! I too loved Port City Java when I was a student at CofC. I lived in the New Building (aptly called because the first year I lived there was its first year of existence) and it was just around the corner!


Stephie @ Eat Your Heart Out May 1, 2012 at 11:37 am

Yum! You’ve got me thinking about other flavors I could do this summer! (I think this would be delicious in some iced tea, too!)


Christine May 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm

I love me an Italian soda… and a homemade strawberry margarita! Feel better!


Monique May 1, 2012 at 12:41 pm

This looks like a sensational strawberry recipe. I’m so eager to try it!


Gina May 1, 2012 at 3:21 pm

That looks great! Thanks for the recipe.


Kelly Montoya May 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm

I have been wanting to make some infused simple syrups for teas and cocktails….this looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing.


Erika - The Teenage Taste May 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Hope you feel better soon, Jenna! In the meantime, just enjoy drinking these delish-looking italian sodas. They look great! :-)


Jana May 1, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I hope you feel better soon! The syrup looks delish and just in time for Mothers Day! Thanks for sharing.


Katherine Nelson May 2, 2012 at 6:02 pm

My students are awesome this year, so things are going really well. I love it when my students are excited about learning and work diligently in class.

I hope your sinus infection clears up. No fun! :(



Brittany from CountingMyCupcakes May 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I went to CofC too and still live in Charleston. I was just at the Francis Marion Hotel for work related things yesterday. I have only ever known that Starbucks to be a Starbucks…I’m bummed I never got to experience “the best little coffee shop” 😉


2sisters2cities May 3, 2012 at 6:07 am

This recipe looks fantastic…so fresh and colorful! I am actually hosting a rhubarb linky party at as part of our Fresh Produce Tuesday series. I would love if you submitted this recipe!



Jenny May 3, 2012 at 11:17 am

This looks incredible! Hope you feel better soon.


dorothy May 3, 2012 at 10:17 pm

…what a fantastic idea to use up rhubarb! ;D


Nikki May 6, 2012 at 10:58 am

I made this syrup for margaritas yesterday…YUM! It was a huge hit. And the best part was the leftover fruit…just like strawberry rhubarb pie filling! Thanks for the tip!


nicole @ I am a Honey Bee May 7, 2012 at 7:19 pm

I love the strawberr rhubarb combo! It goes perfectly together from everything from pie to this!


Whitney @ Whit Likes Fit May 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm

These look so good. When I was little, my dad would always take us to this coffee shop for Italian sodas. My absolute fave was creme de menthe with a splash of cream. So good.


Karen @ The Food Charlatan May 17, 2013 at 8:56 am

This is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. This was sooooooo good! Thanks for sharing the recipe! I blogged about it over here:


Kristy May 20, 2014 at 12:43 pm

I just made this for mixed drinks (or even to put in iced tea or lemonade), and it’s delicious!


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