I bought Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home—the cookbook from Ohio-based ice cream maven Jeni Britton Bauer—back in June, and I've been using it as inspiration all summer. I haven't yet tried any of her more unusual flavors, like Sweet Basil & Honeyed Pine Nut or Cucumber, Honeydew, & Cayenne, but I've followed her very simple yet fullproof recipe to make fruit syrups that I've then swirled into ice creams and used as the base for homemade sodas.
I first made Jeni's Blackberry Syrup by boiling two parts berries to one part sugar and forcing the resulting mixture through a strainer after it had cooled a bit. After it was chilled, I layered it into my homemade vanilla ice cream to create Vanilla Ice Cream With Blackberry Swirl. On a whim, I poured the little syrup I had left into a glass and added club soda. It was awesome, so I bought a whole lot of blackberries at the Greenmarket the next weekend and made a big batch of syrup for soda.
I then went on to make peach and raspberry syrups and to try creating peppermint and lemon verbena syrups. The peach was my favorite. It was delicious in soda ...
... and when swirled into peach ice cream to make it doubly peachy. My buddy Mark said it was the best flavor I've made.
My herbal syrups haven't been as successful. I boiled two or three bunches of the mint and verbena after covering them with water and an equal amount of sugar. They weren't bad, but they weren't as intense as I would have liked and required more syrup to produce a flavorful soda. For the fruit flavors, I've been using two parts club soda to one part syrup. With the herbal flavors, I've been using equal amounts of syrup and soda. Next time I try one of these, I'll use less water with the same amount of sugar.