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
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.
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,
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
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.