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Club Soda

Ginger AleSoda water, also called club soda, is water which is carbonated and thus made effervescent by the addition of carbon dioxide gas under pressure. Soda water gets its name from the sodium salts it contains, which are added as flavoring and acidity regulators to mimic the taste of natural mineral water.

It is also called seltzer or seltzer water in the U.S. and Canada, a name derived from Selters an der Lahn, a small village in Hesse, Germany, which is renowned for its mineral springs. "Seltzer water" is identical with carbonated water if it contains no additives or flavorings.

Soda water is often drunk plain or mixed with fruit juice. It is also mixed with alcoholic beverages to make cocktails, such as Whisky and soda or Campari and soda.

In many parts of the U.S., "soda" has come to mean any type of sweetened, carbonated soft drink, such as cola.

"Club Soda" is a trademark owned by Cantrell & Cochrane Ltd. of Belfast, Northern Ireland.


Carbon dioxide and water form carbonic acid. Alkaline salts such as sodium bicarbonate are added to soda water to reduce its acidity. The sodium, potassium, or other metallic salts in soda water can neutralise a little of the acidic flavour of some drinks, such as cocktails made with orange juice.


In 1767, Englishman Joseph Priestley invented soda water, also known as carbonated water, when he first discovered a method of infusing water with carbon dioxide when he suspended a bowl of water above a beer vat at a local brewery in Leeds, England. Soda water was introduced in the latter part of the 18th century, and reached Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), India in 1822.

The soda siphon, or syphon - a glass or metal pressure vessel with a release valve and spout for dispensing pressurised soda water - was a common sight in bars and in early- to mid-20th century homes where it became a symbol of middle-class affluence.

Social popularity
Soda water changed the way people drank. Instead of drinking spirits neat, soda water, and later, carbonated soft drinks helped dilute alcohol, mitigating its harsh effects, and made having a drink more socially acceptable. Popping into a chum's house for hospitality from a "dash and a splash" - a whisky and soda - before going out to a social event was part of everyday activity in Britain as late as 1965.

Whisky and sodas can be seen in many British TV series and films from the 1960s and earlier and the soda siphon is ubiquitous in many movies made before 1970. Social drinking would change with the counter-culture anti-establishment movement of the 1970s, and the decline of soda water would begin from that point. Soda water's 'last hurrah' in Britain may have been the popular 1970s product, 'Soda Stream'

A commercially available home bottling kit, which enabled purchasers to combine fruit syrups, and water, to create sparkling beverages. The famous advertising tag-line 'Get Bizzy With The Fizzy' spawned a series of similar expressions, such as 'Get Buzzy With the Fuzzy'.

The popularity of soda water has declined since the late 1980s as drinking habits and fashions change and new bottled or canned beverages arrive, but soda-siphons are still bought by the more traditional bar trade and available at the bar in many upmarket establishments. In the UK there are now only two wholesalers of soda-water in traditional glass siphons, and an estimated market of around 120,000 siphons per year (2009).

Worldwide, preferences are for beverages to be distributed in recyclable plastic containers which may, or may not, be recycled. The heavy glass needed for soda siphons is seen as environmentally unsustainable, despite glass soda siphons being easily repaired and refilled by manufacturers.

The renaissance of soda water
Home soda siphons, and soda water are enjoying a renaissance in the 21st century as retro items become fashionable. Contemporary soda siphons are commonly made of aluminium, although glass and stainless steel siphons are available. The valve-heads of today are made of plastic, with metal valves, and replaceable o-ring seals. Older siphons are in demand on on-line auction sites. Carbonated water, without the acidity regulating addition of soda, is currently seen as fashionable although home production (see below) is mainly eschewed in favour of commercial products.

Soda water is a diluent; It works well in short drinks made with whisky, brandy and Campari and in long drinks such as those made with vermouth. Soda water may be used to dilute drinks based on cordials such as orange squash. Soda water is a necessary ingredient in many cocktails, where it is used to top-off the drink and provide a degree of 'fizz'. Adding soda water to 'short' drinks such as spirits dilutes them and makes them 'long'. One report states that the presence of carbon dioxide in a cocktail may accelerate the uptake of alcohol in the blood, making both the inebriation and recovery phases more rapid.

The addition of soda water to dilute spirits was especially popular in hot climates and seen as a somewhat "British" habit. Adding soda water to quality Scotch whisky has been deprecated by whisky lovers, but was a popular lunchtime drink or early evening pre-dinner or pre-theatre drink until the late part of the 20th century.

Pre-filled glass soda-siphons were sold at many liquor stores, a deposit was charged on the siphon, to encourage the return of the relatively expensive siphon for re-filling. In 1965 the deposit on a single soda-syphon in England was 7/6d (seven shillings and six pence).

Soda water can be made at home, by use of a readily available 1.1 US qt rechargeable soda-siphon, and disposable one-shot screw-in carbon dioxide cartridges.  A simple recipe is to chill filtered tap water in the fridge, add one quarter to one half a level teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to the rechargeable soda-siphon, pour in the chilled water and add the carbon dioxide.

A pH testing kit can be used to alter the amount of sodium bicarbonate per litre of carbonised water to neutralise acidity. The siphon should be kept in the refrigerator to preserve carbonation of the contents, and brought out for use, but many rechargeable soda-siphons are handsome objects in their own right, and are kept out for viewing on the drinks tray in many homes.

Soda water made in this way tends not to be as 'gassy' as commercial soda water although chilling of the water before carbonation helps.

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