The Last Thing To Do Before Throwing Away Flat Soda

Is there anything more disappointing than a sip of flat soda? While this pop-less soda remnant may seem only fit for the trash, you can still wring one more flavorful trick out of it. When all the zing and pep have faded and it's little more than a sugary syrup, it can get a second life by being used in a homemade batch of barbecue sauce

From Pepsi to Coke, a touch of cola will enhance the underlying sweetness of a barbecue sauce, highlighting the tomato-rich ketchup with its sugars, caramel flavor, and acids. It also acts as a nice counter-note to the saltier or spicier ingredients, like Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper. This trick works for Dr. Pepper and root beer as well, as the sweet herbal notes play well with the smokey heat of a typical barbecue glaze. The best part? No fizz is required for your favorite soft drink to help elevate your barbecue sauce, and even if you used a fresh can, the carbonation would cook off anyway. So how do you turn your flat soda into the perfect bottle of barbecue?  

A sweet secret ingredient to great barbecue sauce

Start with a classic recipe that has a ketchup base, as they complement your cola's aromatic sweetness best. Most cola barbecue sauces use ketchup to soda in a 1:1 ratio, so for every cup of ketchup, add a cup of cola. From there, recipes will call for a hefty dose of Worcestershire (1/4 cup for every 1 cup of cola) and dashes of other traditional seasonings like hot sauce, garlic powder, and a touch of brown sugar. Be careful when adding any extra sweetener to your barbecue sauce, like molasses or honey, as the soda will already be packing a sugary punch. You'll simmer all of these ingredients together on the stovetop until properly thickened up, about 6 to 8 minutes. When you've finished cooking, consider cutting all this cloying sweetness with an acidic ingredient, like a few tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice. 

Once you've whipped up your soda-spiked barbecue sauce, it'll keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Try pairing it with pulled pork, smoked baby back ribs, or even a fresh batch of chicken wings. It would also be right at home mixed into your next batch of sloppy joes. Either way, it's a particularly tasty way to recycle still soda.