Pink Peppercorn and Thyme Soda

INGREDIENTS

8 whole star anise
2 tablespoons whole pink peppercorns plus additional for garnish
1 tablespoon whole cloves
3 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh thyme sprigs plus 8 additional sprigs for garnish
Ice cubes
4 cups chilled club soda

DIRECTIONS:

Toast anise, 2 tablespoons peppercorns, and cloves in small skillet over medium-high heat until aromatic, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Wrap spices in triple layer of cheesecloth; tie shut. Pound with rolling pin to crush spices lightly.

Bring 3 cups water and sugar to boil in medium saucepan. Add spices in cheesecloth. Remove from heat; cover and steep 15 minutes. Add 1/2 cup thyme sprigs; cover and steep 10 minutes longer.

Strain syrup into medium bowl. Chill until cold. Do ahead: Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.

Fill 8 tall glasses with ice. Divide syrup among glasses. Add 1/2 cup soda to each glass. Garnish with thyme sprigs and peppercorns.

SERVES: 8

CREDITS: Green Zebra Chicago