Food

What is the difference between Club Soda and Tonic Water?

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Drinks are always better when there’s a little bit of fizz. There are many reasons to add bubbles to cocktails. You may want to brighten a bitter aperitivo or to speed up a spirit at a party. Or maybe you want to enjoy it alone over ice with a squeeze of lime. Tonic water and club soda are the best mixers for carbonation. These non-alcoholic mixers are a staple in every bartender’s arsenal. However, there still needs to be more clarity about when to use them and why.

What is Club Soda?

The bubbly water category in a well-stocked grocery shop quickly becomes more complex when you pass by the soda aisle. There are many names for the same product, including sparkling water, sparkling minerals water, club soda, and seltzer. Although grabbing the bottle can not be the best way to use it in a cocktail recipe, knowing the differences between the bubbles is helpful.

Unlike Champagne or sparkling wines and ciders get their bubbles from carbon dioxide that is captured during fermentation. Most fizzy water is artificially carbonated using auxiliary carbon dioxide gas. Scientists in the 1700s created the first carbonated waters by capturing gas from natural sources and infusing it into still water. Think of how a SodaStream pumps gas out of a canister into a bottle previously still tap water to create sparkling water in a matter of seconds.

These categories are truly distinguished by their taste. Amanda Stein, vice president of marketing at Fever-Tree USA, says that the movement toward higher quality ingredients, craft, and provenance has swept the drinks market but seems to have passed over the mixer category. Although the water is flavorless in its purest form, it can be flavored with many additives (or lack thereof) to bubbly water. This can alter its taste and quality.

Seltzer is just plain carbonated water. Sparkling mineral water contains naturally occurring minerals such as sulfur and salts found in the springs from which the water was harvested. Club soda is made from carbonated water with added minerals to enhance the taste. Ray Isle, Executive Wine Editor, recently taste-tested sparkling waters and found that the water’s mineral content can significantly impact taste and mouthfeel. The more minerals in club soda, the more likely the water will taste metallic or too salty. This is something that you want to avoid in your mixed drinks. Stein says that Fever-Tree club sugar is deliberately blended with minerals to mix with spirits. “Our club soda may be the simplest product, but it has the important smooth texture. It is made from the finest spring water, with a low mineral count and bicarbonate soda. This helps to bring out key flavors in premium spirits it is mixed with.”

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