Start by proofing your yeast. Using only 1/4 cup of your water, add your yeast and sugar in it. Stir lightly to dissolve. Give it 5-10 minutes to foam up.
In a stand mixer bowl, add your flour, salt, your proofed yeast, melted butter, and the rest of your water (1/2 Cup).
Attach your dough hook to your stand mixer, and mix on low speed for about 4 minutes and then on high speed for about 10 minutes.
Take out your dough, and shape it into a ball. Brush a clean bowl with some canola oil and place your dough ball in there. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place.
Let it rise for at least 45 minutes or until it doubles in size.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
Bring your water to a boil and add the baking soda.
Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper on it.
Oil your working surface, take out your dough and punch the air out of it.
Cut into 6 equal pieces, and roll each out to an approximately 18-22 inches long rope.
Make your rope into a U shape, and shape into pretzels.
Your water should be boiling now, boil your pretzels only one a time. Make sure you don't make a splash, drop your pretzels very gently. Let them cook until they puff up, this should not take more than 2 minutes.
Place all your pretzels on your baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve with some Dijon and a beer.