Visons of sugarplums dance in our heads, sparkle in soda water and shine in festive cocktails. Tie a gift tag with serving instructions around the neck of the bottle, and maybe another with a recipe for a grown-up drink. The syrup brings a ton of holiday cheer to a vodka martini.
Combine the raisins, sugar, apricots, dates, honey, cardamom, cinnamon stick and nutmeg in 2 1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mixture reduces to a thin syrup, about 20 minutes.
Slowly pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, gently pressing on the fruit to extract all the syrup. Discard the solids. Stir in the almond extract. Add the food coloring a drop at a time until the desired shade is reached. Allow the soda syrup to cool completely before bottling, about 30 minutes.
Suggestion for use: Fill a glass with 8 ounces of cold seltzer water, then add 2 tablespoons soda syrup and stir gently (feel free to add more or less syrup to taste). Garnish with an orange slice.