Does Balsamic Vinegar and Sparkling Water Really Taste Like Coke?

Does Balsamic Vinegar and Sparkling Water Really Taste Like Coke?
Photo: Robyn Simms Johnson

There’s a video going viral on TikTok this week in which user MandyVJones explains how you can make a drink that tastes just like Coke, but is good for you. All you need to do is mix a splash of balsamic vinegar with sparkling water, add some ice, and enjoy.

“My pilates instructor makes this drink almost, like, every day,” Jones says in the video. “I am not joking you, it tastes just like a Coke, and you’re going to think I’m insane.”

I was doubtful, but as a fan of Coca-Cola and a fat-arse, I had to try it, because what if…? So I mixed it up as directed: Balsamic vinegar, bubbly water, and ice, and took a healthy slug.

No, vinegar and sparkling water doesn’t taste like Coke

I don’t think Jones is insane, but this drink does not taste like a Coke. It tastes like fizzy vinegar. There are things about it that might remind you of a Coke — it’s roughly the right colour, it has bubbles — but it does not taste like a Coke. It doesn’t taste bad (if you like vinegar) but it clearly needs something more.

But you can make vinegar drinks that taste great

Vinegar-based drink aren’t new. Colonial Americans loved “shrubs,” mixtures of vinegared syrup with spirits, water, or carbonated water. The great Claire Lower has explored the vinegar realm before on this very site, creating shrubs and other delicious/refreshing-sounding vinegar-based concoctions.

I trust Claire with my very life, but I am an experiential person and must try things for myself. I mixed a splash of a peach-infused balsamic vinegar with some seltzer from my SodaStream and poured it down my drinkhole. And I’d give it three and a half out of five stars! It’s delightful and refreshing — the acidic vinegar cuts the sweetness of the peach delightfully.

But it was missing booze, so I’m happy to report that adding a splash of vodka to peach-infused balsamic vinegar and seltzer is a 5-star hit. I threw in some muddled basil to make it healthy, and voila, a new cocktail is born: The Peachy Steve. It’s the kind of drink a guy with an ironic mustache and sleeve garters might have mixed for you in a hipster bar ten years ago.

I would include a recipe, but the soul of the Peachy Steve lies in experimentation, so instead, I offer you some loose guidelines that I encourage you to ignore because I’m not the boss of you.

  • You can use any flavour of infused balsamic vinegar, but the quality of the vinegar really matters. Get extra frou-frou with it, like using an 18 year-aged bottle you bought in Ojai after an olive oil tasting party. (My life is filled with strange and decadent delights beyond measure).
  • I tried both gin and vodka, and prefer vodka. Claire likes it with gin.
  • Add a third ingredient to round out the flavour — something like basil, mint, or rosemary.
  • Vinegar is very strong, so start small. From there, experiment with the ration of ingredients until you create a cocktail that tastes just like Coke, or you get mildly drunk, whichever comes first.

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