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celery soda for adults (real grown ups only!)

when i was a junior in high school, linkin park's hybrid theory was popular and i was a low income, straight edge, nerdy jock, so you probably could never imagine the kind of lunch table i sat at. one of the folks who sat near me was a kid who i’ll call cb for ”celery boy” which will make sense in two sentences, trust me. cb was both a senior and the first person i ever met who was unapologetically queer, making him the only "grown up” i trusted. he would occasionally bring in a can of celery soda in for lunch and everyone would be grossed out, but then he'd let me have a sip and it was such a treat! the drinks in the fridge at home were always so sugary - coca cola, kool-aid, tropicana orange juice, TANG - which i loved but also i was a ~female varsity athlete~ so i was always concerned about what i was consuming regularly. celery soda wasn't necessarily healthy, but it felt and sounded healthy and grown up, and that's what i wanted to be!

i had compartmentalized the memory of celery soda until a couple of months ago when i hit one year of sobriety. the past year had been a journey of replacing cocktails with mocktails, essentially fancy and professionally crafted sodas. drinking a mocktail allowed me the dignity of feeling grown up and tricked others around me at tech events into thinking i'm "normal" like them, allowing me to avoid repeatedly giving the "why i'm not drinking" monologue to every stranger making lazy and nosy small talk.

while quarantine makes it easy to avoid work and networking events with flowing alcohol, i still wanted to feel grown up and so i tried my hand at celery soda. most recipes for the syrup i found online were too sugary or had spices i don't have (celery seed? in this economy?) so i truly was running an experiment here and i love how it came out.

a pot full of the following ingredients, everything is green

in a saucepan i brought the following to a boil and stirred for a few minutes.

  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 5 tbsp raw sugar
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1 sprig of fresh parsley, chopped

i took the pot off of heat and let it sit, covered, for an hour. then i strained it into a mason jar. it smelled really good and looked like piss.

a mason jar full of syrup that's piss colored being held up

similar recipes online say that this syrup can hold for two weeks in the fridge. i added a couple of tablespoons to a glass and added seltzer water, ice, and a quarter of lime because i'm a healthy grown up.

a mason jar with a fizzy drink and lime on a brown kitchen table

it was as refreshing and sophisticated as i remember nearly 20 years ago. also, my satellite radio started playing a linkin park song as soon as i poured it??? stream “hybrid theory”!

xoxo j

this was published July 19, 2020 under food living sobriety mocktails non-alcoholic beveraginos