Call the soft drink in your glass soda, pop or the ever manly “lolly water” — the fact remains that few beverages pair as well with a juicy burger and a side of fries. Originally sold in pharmacies under the guise of medicine, soda’s popularity exploded faster than a Mentos and coke volcano. Between 1977 and 2002 its consumption doubled in America and, unfortunately, so did the size of some of its biggest fans.
But now we’re in the midst of a home-brewed revolution. Given new life by the advent of SodaStream, the do-it-yourself home soda stand is becoming increasingly popular. With the ability to tailor CO2-infused drinks to individual tastes (and control sugar content), pop-aficionados and mixologists alike can don Dr. Pepper’s lab coat to keep themselves awash in bubbly. These are the best soda makers for doing just that. Remember to use the coldest water you can — it traps those bubbles better and besides, who’s ever ordered a hot glass of coke?
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The Mastrad Purefizz Soda Maker is old school seltzer at its finest; it wouldn’t look out of place on the reclaimed-wood bar top of any card carrying rat packer. With only a 750ml capacity, the Purefizz is on the small side, but that also makes for concentrated concoctions with more carbonation. Just add your favorite flat liquid, seal things with the CO2 canister equipped lid and give things a shake. The best part is you can add bubbles to just about anything without voiding the warranty, so mixologists can rejoice. Looking to fizz-up your signature Manhattan? Go right ahead (on second thought, don’t).
Lets face it, most families have turned to SodaStream simply to cut costs. One easy way to save a few dollars more is to pick up a SodaMod. Designed by a paintball shop owner, this custom valve will wean you from the proprietary SodaStream teat forever. By replacing the OEM valve, which only mates to non-standard threading canisters, you can start using an over-the-counter alternative to expensive SodaStream CO2 canisters: a refillable paintball tank. With two 14.5oz SodaStream refills costing around $60 (and having to be mail-ordered), it won’t take too many $5 refills to sell you on the system. $60
Push button convenience is the SodaStream’s claim to fame, and their Jet model is one of the best. Priced as an entry level soda jerk, the Jet foregoes some of the feature creep of pricier models while still delivering excellent effervescence. We’re fans of its slender design, but it’s not necessarily a looker. (The Source model ticks that box, but then again, it comes at a premium.) Powered by its own proprietary canisters, the Jet can tackle up to 130L of seltzer, or about fifteen cases of cans, before you need to hunt down a refill. SodaStream’s array of pre-mixed syrups are a quick and easy way to add variety to your fridge but, of course you could always use those with the other picks on this list.
[Note: though Sodastream has recently come under fire for housing its main factory in the occupied West Bank, we’ll leave it up to you to boycott or not.]
iSi Soda Siphon
Designed with Brian Flanagan types in mind, the iSi Soda Siphon is a classically designed, affordable option for adding sparkle to your bar. The sleek 1L bottle is available in black, red or brushed aluminum and has an integrated pressure regulator in its down-shooter cap. Much like the Purefizz, the Soda Siphon eats one canister per quart, and its refills are cheap. Unlike the Purefizz, soda delivery takes a little more technique — hosing down your guests is usually frowned upon. For best results, we recommend you let your liquids chill out in the bottle before bubbling in order to pack in the most carbonated pressure. Just don’t reach for it, instead of your whip cream dispenser, in the darkness on date night.