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The key to an effervescent party: homemade soda water

Gadgets like the sleek Penguin soda maker ($299 through www.sodastream.ca) make a fun addition to cocktail parties.

Nothing adds fizz to a summer get-together like a fresh, effervescent cocktail. The bubbles are festive. And carbonation cuts through the sweetness of syrupy fruit drinks. Recently, I concocted a super seasonal tipple with a twist - homemade soda water.

The benefits of making your own soda water with gadgets like the sleek Penguin soda maker ($299 through www.sodastream.ca) are both practical and environmental. You know where your soda is coming from - it takes about three seconds for the Penguin to convert ordinary tap water into soda water. And there are no cans or bottles to store and throw away.

The cocktail I devised combined three ounces of homemade soda water with three ounces of fresh raspberry/blackberry juice and one ounce of the newest flavoured vodka from Absolut: Albsolut Acai. (Frankly, most flavoured vodkas sound better than they taste, but this flavourful vodka infused with tropical acai berries is quite excellent. And if you like flavoured vodkas, another good one to consider is Grey Goose's La Poire, which adds authentic pear flavour to drinks.)

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To make the fizzy acai-kissed cocktail, shake the vodka and the juice in a cocktail mixer with ice, then add the soda water and pour over ice into a tall glass. As a finishing touch, drop in a skewer pierced with fresh blackberries and raspberries.

Of course, soda water need not only be used for cocktails - adding it to fruit juices and punches jazzes up those beverages and cuts down on the amount of acid, sugar and artificial sweeteners in soft drinks substantially.

Even so, the dog days of summer sometimes call for a beverage with bite. I have a feeling that my newly invented acai-berry cocktail will be making a repeat appearance this season.

Sebastien Centner is the director of Eatertainment Special Events in Toronto ( www.eatertainment.com).

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