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Tonic, soda and seltzers - what's the difference?

If you've hit the mixer section of your bottle shop or supermarket, you would have seen an array that are being marketed to be paired with your gin. Tonic, soda, sparkling water...what's the difference? After all, they are ALL bubbly water right? Flavoured versions aside, surely you could just substitute one for the other? And what's the deal with these seltzers hitting the market?

WHAT IS SPARKLING MINERAL WATER?
The carbonation in sparkling mineral water often occurs naturally in the springs from which the water is sourced. Those waters will also contain small quantities of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and sodium. These minerals can all add to the flavour of the water. However, some mineral waters can also have their effervescence added artificially.

WHAT IS SODA WATER?
Soda water at its core is artificially carbonated water that has salts added to it, e.g. sodium citrate and potassium bicarbonate. The process of carbonation comes from dissolving carbon dioxide in water, often through the use of force - have a Soda Stream? That's basically what it does (though to be fair, Soda Stream advertises themselves as a sparkling water maker, not a soda water maker as the water carbonated with Soda Streams will not have those added salts to it). In America, you may see the term club soda used for this category however, soda water is mainly the term used in Australia. 

Where does seltzer fit in? Seltzer is also largely an American term - this often is used for carbonated water without any of the salts added. Hard seltzers (which are now hitting the market) will have some alcohol added to it.

WHAT IS TONIC WATER?
Tonic water is basically carbonated water, sugar and quinine. The addition of citric acid adds the citrussy element in many tonics. The key difference is that tonic contains quinine, which introduces the bitter element in the drink and sugar. To this, you can add different flavourings to create some of the many different flavours of tonic water out there, such as the Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic, or the Fentimans Pink Grapefruit Tonic.

 

 

 

*main image - "Water Droplets on Clear Glass" by Cottonbro via Pexels*

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