Ever order yourself a bottle of sparkling mineral water and wonder, “how is this different to the soda I top my vodka up with”? (Or something along those lines.) The two bubbly beverages can have a similar taste – depending on the type you’re drinking. And in theory, they kind of sound the same, too.
But are they the same drink?
We did some digging so you can flex your knowledge the next time this question comes up in a group setting.
Club soda and sparkling mineral water both have bubbles of carbon dioxide gas suspended within their liquidy matrices, but it’s their other additives that define them. Here are the key differences (and what you should use them for.)
- Soda Water: Soda water is plain water with added minerals and dissolved solids, usually sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, disodium phosphate, and — less commonly — plain ol’ sodium chloride. The carbonation is added, rather than naturally occurring, and the taste can range from practically flavourless to slightly salty or bitter. Its lack of strong flavour makes it a good choice for adding some effervescence to cocktails or juice.
- Sparkling Mineral Water: Sparkling mineral water usually comes from a natural spring or well, and can be naturally carbonated, depending on the source. As its name would suggest, there are some minerals in there, though the type and amount of dissolved solids vary from brand to brand. Mineral water is usually best enjoyed on its own, as the flavour imparted by all the minerals (such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium) can be distracting in a cocktail.
In short, sparkling is a little fancier; it’s more natural and it’s got a more distinctive flavour.
Now that we’ve got that cleared up, I recommend celebrating with a bubbly beverage. Whether or not it’s boozy and bubbly is up to you.
And if you’d like to dig even deeper, check out this explainer we wrote up on spiked seltzer and the booze it’s made with.
This article has been updated since its original publication