I first tried Club-Mate at Metalab in Vienna in 2006, but I hadn’t drunk it again until I was in Berlin last month for Euruko 2011, where it was freely available. Over the course of a weekend, I grew to like it. It’s a German soft drink brewed from yerba mate, and it’s popular with hacker types in Germany. There is a UK importer who sells it by mail order, but as it’s a bit expensive and inconvenient, I thought I’d attempt to recreate the drink.

I used the OpenCola recipe as a benchmark for quantities, and adjusted the amount of sugar using the nutritional information of Club-Mate. The recipe’s pretty simple: mix hot water, yerba mate, sugar and lemon juice, leave to brew and cool down, filter out the bits, and you have the syrup. This is then diluted with carbonated water to make the final beverage.

Here’s the recipe for the syrup (yields about 500ml):

50g yerba mate (with stems/con palos)
500ml water (boiled and allowed to cool slightly)
250g unbleached cane sugar
5ml lemon juice

Mix ingredients and stir well. Allow to cool for 1 hour. Remove larger particles using a cafetière and allow to settle. Alternatively, you could make a monstrous teabag with some muslin and save a lot of effort with the cafetière.

To prepare the beverage, mix 1 part syrup with 5 parts carbonated water.

I used Rosamonte yerba mate con palos, which conveniently gives nutritional information on the side for 50g in 500ml of water—exactly what I used. On this basis, the finished drink according to my recipe contains 0.16g of caffeine per litre, slightly lower than the 0.20g of the genuine article.

My verdict? It’s pretty close, at least, as far as I can tell without having a bottle of Club-Mate to compare it with. It tastes like it might be a bit too sweet, although my measurements tell me it has less sugar than the real thing. Let me know if you try it or come up with any improvements.

I subsequently discovered that I’m not the first to try: I’ve come across some other attempts to recreate the beverage, some of which require more complicated equipment.