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What Is Club Soda? | Club Soda vs Seltzer

Joshua Weatherwax
Table of Contents
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Club soda, soda water, seltzer water, tonic water, so many choices!

If you've ever walked down the beverage aisle at your local grocery store, you'll know just how overwhelming all of these options can be. Some can be used in place of the other, but some cannot. Some are flavored, some are not.

To help alleviate the confusion, we'll explain what each drink is and how they're related.

What Is Club Soda?

Club soda is a form of artificially carbonated water with added mineral compounds, usually in the form of potassium or sodium. Club soda was created to mimic natural mineral water. The minerals added give club soda a distinct taste, though this varies by brand. It is mainly used as a mixer for cocktails but some people do like to drink it. You'll find club soda in many of the drinks every bartender should know.

Since its creation, club soda has also become a go-to product for many household projects. The effervescent nature of club soda makes it ideal for cleaning jewelry, removing rust, protecting hair dye, or to remove red wine stains.

Club Soda Calories

Club soda has 0 calories. Since club soda is essentially just plain water that's been carbonated and infused with minerals. There is nothing caloric in the drink. Choosing to use club soda instead of a carbonated soft drink will save as many calories as choosing just water.

Club Soda Carbs

There are no carbohydrates in club soda. As there is no sugar present in club soda, there are no carbs. Club soda can be consumed regardless of dietary needs or restrictions. This differentiates it from some other carbonated waters which contain added sugar or fruit juice to sweeten the drink.

Club Soda Ingredients

Club soda is composed of plain water and minerals that may include potassium sulfate, potassium bicarbonate, potassium citrate, or sodium citrate. These compounds are added during the carbonation process. This is done to replicate the natural elements found in mineral water.

These minerals are also the cause of any flavor you may find when drinking club soda. Along with the carbonation, the mineral flavors are what make club soda a great ingredient to have on hand when making summer cocktails.

Does Club Soda Have Sugar?

Club soda does not contain any sugar. The only contents of club soda are water, a form of sodium or potassium, and carbon dioxide used in carbonation.

Club Soda Substitute

Seltzer water can be used interchangeably with club soda for most purposes. Club soda and seltzer water are nearly identical. Some people do report that they find club soda to taste too salty. Seltzer water has no taste, so it may be a good choice for anyone who dislikes the taste of club soda. Seltzer water can also be used for most household tasks that you would use club soda for. It is the carbonation in both that serves to make it so useful.

Best Club Soda

There are many great brands of club soda, but we've listed out our top five below.

  1. Fever-Tree Premium. Made from natural spring water, Fever-Tree offers one of the purest club sodas with a great taste.
  2. Q Mixers Club Soda. Designed specifically for use in cocktails, Q Mixers is more carbonated than its competitors and has a dash of Himalayan salt for added flavor.
  3. Canada Dry. A grocery store staple, Canada Dry offers a serviceable club soda for a great price.
  4. Schweppes. Another popular brand, Schweppes club soda is affordable and has a good taste.
  5. Seagrams. With a strong carbonation and salty aftertaste, Seagram's club soda is a great choice if you like a little saltiness.

What Is Seltzer?

Seltzer, or seltzer water, is artificially carbonated water. No element other than carbon dioxide is added during the carbonation process. This gives seltzer the fizzy mouthfeel but keeps it entirely flavorless. Seltzer water began production in Europe in an attempt to mimic the naturally carbonated waters found in Germany.

Since seltzer water has no inherent flavor, it is much more likely to be artificially flavored. Brands like La Croix, Spindrift, and Bubly all sell a plethora of flavors. This makes seltzer a more adaptable mixer depending on the cocktail you're looking to make.

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Club Soda vs Seltzer Water

Club soda and seltzer water are both carbonated waters that are used primarily as mixers for other drinks. They can be used interchangeably for most purposes including for household chores. Plain seltzer water can be added to drinks for its carbonation without affecting the flavor, though club soda is used more often. Artificially flavored seltzer water offers a unique way to add some fruity flavors to a mixed drink without the added calories or sugar.

Is Seltzer Water the Same As Club Soda?

No, unlike club soda, seltzer water has no mineral content. Though their uses and creation are similar, they are not the same product. It is important to understand that they do not have similar flavor profiles even though they are often used in place of one another.

What Is Soda Water?

Soda water is a generic term for carbonated water. Asking for a soda water can get you either a club soda or a seltzer water depending on how your server interprets it. If a recipe or mixed drink calls for soda water, either club soda or seltzer would work. The carbonation is what is desired in these circumstances.

Club Soda vs Soda Water

Club soda is carbonated water with added artificial minerals, while soda water is an overarching term for all carbonated waters. You can always choose to use club soda if "soda water" is called for. The ambiguous nature of the term soda water makes it less useful in cocktail recipes as it could also be asking for seltzer water.

Difference Between Club Soda and Seltzer

The main difference between club soda and seltzer water is the presence of mineral compounds. Minerals are added to club soda during carbonation to make it taste more like mineral water. It also adds a slight amount of flavor to the liquid. Plain seltzer water has nothing added other than carbonation, so it has no flavor. Seltzer water is also sold with added flavors, but club soda is not.

Club Soda vs Tonic Water

Club soda and tonic water cannot be used interchangeably because they are composed of entirely different ingredients. Club soda has a slightly salty taste to it and it is used in mixed drinks primarily for its carbonation. Tonic water is a flavored drink that tastes bitter or like whatever fruit juice is used in the production.

Both club soda and tonic water are called for in many popular cocktails. We recommend you keep both on hand for flexibility in your mixing adventures. Professionals also make sure to order them both when they stock a bar with a full bar liquor list.

Difference Between Tonic Water and Club Soda

Club soda is a carbonated water and tonic water is a sweetened soft drink that contains carbonated water. The naming of these drinks can seem a bit confusing. Club soda is water with a small amount of flavor from its mineral contents. Tonic water is more similar to soda as it usually has sugar added through the juices used in its production. They cannot be used in lieu of each other. Tonic will affect a mixed drink's flavor more and it can't be used for other purposes like cleaning.

What Does Tonic Water Taste Like?

Tonic water usually tastes bitter due to the quinine in it, but many brands will add sugar or fruit juice to sweeten the mixture. The quinine in tonic comes from the bark of cinchona trees, traditionally used in the creation. Many modern brands only have a small amount of quinine and overwhelm the bitterness with added flavors like fruits. Sugar or high-fructose corn syrup may also be present and make the drink even sweeter.

Tonic Water vs Seltzer

Tonic water is a carbonated soft drink containing carbonated water while seltzer is itself a carbonated water. The difference between tonic water and seltzer water is even more pronounced than the difference between tonic water and club soda. Seltzer water is entirely flavorless unless flavor has intentionally been added. Seltzer is also entirely free of calories and carbohydrates. Tonic water can taste bitter or sweet depending on the brand and is not carb-free due to added sugars. The two drinks cannot be used interchangeably

Club Soda vs Sparkling Water

Sparkling water is a naturally carbonated mineral water while club soda is an artificially carbonated water with minerals added. The flavor profiles of sparkling water and club soda are very similar. This is because club soda was intentionally created to be as close to mineral water as possible. Sparkling water is generally healthier to drink since it can contain a number of trace elements from the spring it was drawn from.

It is not recommended to replace club soda in a recipe with sparkling water. This is because the carbonation in sparkling water is less predictable, it is a more expensive drink, and the flavors and minerals are better enjoyed without mixing.

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Water, Water, Everywhere

That's a lot of options for mixers when looking to make a delicious cocktail.

Club soda and tonic are classic drink mixers. From traditional drinks to fancy aphrodisiac drinks, they can do anything. Club soda and seltzer water can usually be substituted for one another, but make sure not to add a flavored seltzer unless that's what you intend. They each pair better with different types of alcohol, so test them out and see what works best or check out some of the best bartending books for more inspiration.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the contents and uses of each drink.

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