I haven't drunk a Diet Coke for about a decade, but don't worry—I got my fill. Two to four liters a day for years and years, and plain old Coca Cola before that. Then I got a seltzer maker as a gift and now I pound room-temperature fizz like it's my job. (Which it is sometimes.) The bubbles scratch whatever itch the colas had threaded through my system over the years, and I'm good. Maybe a little bored sometimes, but good. The tremendous amount of waste was a big factor in my decision to hop off the cola train, so I'm not keen on hauling bottled and canned flavored seltzers into my limited space. The flavors have to come from...inside the house.
And while I'm at it, maybe they could do a little work, too? Earlier this year I took a break from alcohol while dealing with some tedious health stuff, and seltzer and bitters with a squeeze of citrus became my go-to drink both at home and out at bars. It's refreshing as heck, and absolutely anyone can make it. Once I ran the gamut of bitters on my home bar (I have a ridiculously intense home bar situation) trying out different combos, it suddenly occurred to me that this might be a perfect way to deploy the sometimes funky-tasting supplements and adaptogenic herb extracts my nutritionist had suggested to make my sleep and energy better. Only one way to find out.
A dropper or two of ashwagandha, rhodiola, valerian, or kava plays beautifully with bubbles and some citrus if I've got some handy. But on the rare occasions that I'm not trying to sneak some hippie potions into my body (efficacy TBD, but if nothing else, they've been a great placebo), I can just focus on flavor. A few favorites include:
Orange juice and hot sauce: I can't deal with the sugar shock of full-on OJ, but I dearly miss the flavor. A finger or two of juice (ideally freshly-squeezed, but I'm not fussy) in a pint glass full of seltzer, and flicked with a few drops of Tabasco is the perfect wake-me-up on a weekend, and a fun zero-proof option when all your pals are sipping mimosas.
Bloody Mary mix: I'm a huge fan of pickle-juice-based blends like McClure's, but a full glass of acid is a little too much for my gut right now. A decent glug of it cut with plenty of seltzer and a celery swizzle is a bloody good compromise.
Coffee: Gross confession time—I'll drink a pot until it's stone cold and I just loathe wasting food or beverages. I fill up a pint glass with ice, pour in the dregs, top it with seltzer, and possibly almond milk if I'm in the mood (I'm usually not). What did I do with my summer vacation? This, mostly.
Salt, vinegar, and spices: I have a thing for naturally salty Vichy water, but it's not always easy to get my hands on it. A pinch of kosher or a few Maldon flakes will do the trick, sometimes along with a few peppercorns or whole spices bobbing to the surface. A splash of apple cider vinegar is more delightful than you'd imagine. (I recommend a straw, ice, and some careful sipping.)
Fruit: Sure. Why not? Some cucumbers and herbs, too. I like to pretend I'm in a boutique hotel lobby as much as the next person.
This story originally appeared on Cookinglight.com.