Carbonated drinks are a refreshing beverage and a preferred summertime alternative to sugary soft drinks. Among the most popular carbonated drinks used in cocktails are club soda and tonic water. Carbonated water contains CO2 or carbon dioxide gas infused artificially under pressure done in various ways to prepare club soda, sparkling water, tonic water & other carbonated drinks. This CO2 when effervesces, releases tiny bubbles making it a fizzy drink.
While comparing club soda & tonic water which might seem quite similar, they are actually very different from each other in terms of composition and taste. This is why when making cocktails, you can’t use one in place of the other because this alters the overall result.
If you want to know more about club soda & tonic water and which one is a superior choice, then you’re in luck because this article answers all your questions.
- What is Tonic Water?
- What is Club Soda?
- Club Soda Vs. Tonic water Face-Off
What is Tonic Water?
Most carbonated drinks like sparkling water, club soda, and seltzer water have a thin consistency and often taste plain but with a hint of saltiness. Tonic water is very different in contrast to these beverages.
First of all, this carbonated water contains quinine, a compound found in the bark of cinchona trees. Quinine is a famous drug said to treat malaria.
Tonic water only has small traces of quinine to give it a predominant bitter flavor. FYI, it contains not more than 83 mg of quinine per liter. Drinking a few ounces of tonic water shouldn't be harmful. Even drinking 3 glasses of it daily should be OK as long as you are not sensitive to quinine.
It also contains artificial sweeteners to make this flavor balanced. Two of the commonly used sweeteners are high fructose corn syrup and sugar. Tonic water is used as a drink mixer for cocktails. It’s more popular for Gin and vodka-based cocktails. Just so you know, tonic water is the only carbonated water that contains calories due to sugar content.
What is Club soda?
Club soda is one of the simplest carbonated water. It’s essentially plain carbonated water with added minerals like sodium chloride, potassium sulfate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, and disodium phosphate. These chemicals give the club soda its signature saltiness.
However, the type and amount of such minerals vary from brand to brand; that’s why some club soda brands may be saltier or less salty than others. Unlike tonic water, club soda comes in simple salty flavors and is used to add only bubbles to a cocktail.
Club Soda Vs. Tonic Water: Face-Off 🔥
Now, let’s see which carbonated beverage has the edge in each round of categories.
1. Hydration | Winner: Club Soda
Club soda will hydrate you just as well as plain water. You can safely consume it because it’s free from calories and sugar, unlike tonic water. It’s almost flavorless, if not for the small number of mineral salts.
It’s typical thinking that salt or sodium can cause dehydration, but this isn’t entirely true. If we don’t get enough salt in our diet, we only increase the risk of dehydration as sodium delivers water to the body cells to lock hydration. It is only when consuming too much salt that leads to health risks like high blood pressure and heart-related problems.
In contrast, some say that tonic water is close to being a soft drink rather than carbonated water. This is because it contains calories due to added fructose sugar. At first, you might feel refreshed when consuming a soft drink. But do you notice how consuming sugary beverages just makes you even more thirsty? Too much sugar consumption can lead to water loss in the body, leaving you dehydrated.
Having said this, tonic water may not be a good source of hydration. But ultimately, it all boils down to how safe you feel about consuming either club soda or tonic water. That’s why this round goes to club soda.
2. Taste | Winner: Tonic Water
One can tell that club soda tastes a bit salty thanks to the mineral salts dissolved in it. Aside from these minerals, the carbonation also makes it slightly acidic. Other than these characteristics, club soda doesn’t offer more taste unless it is flavored with lime or any other citrus fruit.
On the other hand, tonic water on its own is perhaps the most flavorful compared to other carbonated waters. It is best known for containing the alkaloid quinine, which imparts bitterness enhancing the beverage’s overall flavor which most adults enjoy. There is only a small amount of quinine making it safe to consume. But drinking something that’s only bitter may not be pleasant. That's why tonic water also contains sugar, nectar, or high fructose corn syrup to balance out the bitterness.
Tonic water and club soda are both available in flavored options. As previously mentioned, club soda is mainly available in citrus and salty flavor, whereas tonic water offers more variety like elderflower, cucumber, and the Mediterranean.
Hence, if you drink the two and judge them based on taste alone, it’s likely that you’ll enjoy tonic water more. Given that it offers more depth of flavor, this round goes to tonic water.
3. Carbonation | It’s a Tie!
Both club soda and tonic water have the exact source & amount of carbonation which is nothing but artificially infused carbon dioxide. They have about 2.5-3.5 volumes of CO2 per volume of liquid. The two carbonated drinks also have their unique additions in them; minerals for club soda and quinine plus sugar for tonic water.
These help tone down the carbonation a bit, so they don’t come off as aggressive. So, if you consume either of the two, you will experience a crisp fizz.
4. Cocktail Mixer | Winner: Tonic Water
Club soda and tonic water are both popularly used as mixers for a wide variety of cocktails. Club soda has a decent amount of carbonation, making it a staple for hard liquor. Its salt content usually adds a bit of body to the cocktail, enhancing the sweetness and amplifies the flavor.
Tonic water is one-half of the iconic beverage, the Gin and Tonic. But beyond this famous drink, tonic water also goes well with many other liquors such as vodka, whiskey, scotch, bourbon, rum, and tequila.
Club soda mainly adds bubbles to a drink to make it more pleasant and refreshing. On the other hand, tonic water adds a depth of flavor which most people enjoy about authentic drinks. For this reason, tonic water has the edge of being an essential cocktail mixer.
5. Nutritional Content | Winner: Club Soda
Due to the artificially added mineral salts in club soda, it is expected to contain sodium. There may also be traces of calcium, zinc, magnesium, and copper, depending on the brand. Besides this, club soda doesn’t contain any calories, high quantity sugar, protein, fat, or carbohydrates.
On the contrary, tonic water contains more added sugars, as well as calories and carbohydrates. It also contains a lesser amount of sodium & carbs due to sugar, but no fat or protein. So since tonic water has carbs, sugar, and calories, some people may steer clear of it, especially those on a diet. However, anyone can easily consume club soda without giving a second thought.
Why Club Soda is the better choice?
Club soda vs tonic water seems to be in a tie when it comes to various categories. So to break it, here are additional reasons why club soda reigns supreme.
> Club soda is beneficial to use in other applications like cooking. Using this carbonated water will not alter the taste of a particular food but rather elevates it. For instance, adding club soda to a cake batter will make it fluffier.
> It can also serve as a cleaning agent. Its fizz helps in removing stains and dirt from floors, windows, porcelain, cloth, and other things. You can also use it to polish chrome or stainless steel fixtures and deodorizing carpets or furniture.
> If you have leftover club soda that has lost its fizz, don’t pour it in the drain. Instead, use it to water your plants. The minerals and nutrients in the club soda will help your plants grow faster and healthier.
2. Fewer Health Risks
> Quinine is said to treat malaria. Although, tonic water only contains a small amount of it and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), too much quinine can also be harmful.
> Tonic water is also not suitable for everyone, especially those sensitive to quinine because it can increase your existing health problems.
> Whereas, club soda does not result in any serious health complications, making it safer for consumption. Perhaps the only unpleasant thing you can ever get from its overconsumption is bloating.
Overall, club soda is a much safer drink to indulge in than tonic water. So, taking everything into account, club soda is the ultimate winner and hence a superior choice compared to tonic water as you can drink it without worries and guilt.