If I drink more than a six-pack of soft drinks in a year, that's a lot. Odd considering that I grew up mixing all kinds of sodas in my family's fountain service store in East New York.
But when my friend Dante shipped me a really swell beverage carbonator a few weeks back, for the purpose of trying my hand at carbonated cocktails, all I was able to think about was making some soda.
And not just any soda. It had to be this one: Manhattan Special.
Not exactly a household name, I know. But they've been making this stuff since 1895. The company that produces it is still family owned, and the manufacturing plant is where it has always been: Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Here's a story the Times did a while back.
I used to drink a ton of Manhattan Special (we just called it "coffee soda") when I was a kid, but now only treat myself to a taste occasionally.
Dante's very cool gift seemed the right occasion. (Sorry, man, but I don't do cocktails. I'm a straight-up kinda guy when it comes to my whiskey.)
So, here you've got the contraption. It's called Twist 'n Sparkle.
It's a snap to use. All you do is insert a CO2 cartridge into this wand here, then drop the wand into the plastic bottle.
When you screw the wand into the bottle the gas is automatically released from the cartridge. To make my coffee soda I brewed about three and a half cups of espresso in a regular coffee maker and added 6 tablespoons of sugar. The sugar part was a little hard to cope with, as I never use it in my coffee. Oh, and the whole thing needed to be chilled before carbonating.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I wound up with a drink that really was very close to the original. I think that if I played around with the coffee-to-sugar ratio a bit more I might even get it precisely right.
Or, I could just head on over to Williamsburg and get the real thing.