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Soda water - all about the filler for cocktails

by Honest & Rare Editorial Team
Sodawasser - Alles über den Filler für Cocktails

The most important facts summarized for you:

  • Soda water is a subspecies of table water
  • Soda water differs from conventional water in that it is enriched with sodium bicarbonate and carbon dioxide
  • Soda water is not mineral water, as they differ in their chemical composition
  • Mineral water can only be used to a limited extent as a substitute for soda water in cocktails

Water not only enjoys a special status as the proverbial elixir of life, it is also one of the most important fillers in cocktails and long drinks. In many classic recipes, soda water appears regularly and continuously as an ingredient - and often causes frowns. Soda water? So mineral water?

Not quite. We explain what soda water actually is, what properties the sparkling liquid has and whether you can replace soda water with mineral water or not. You can also find out what soda has to do with soda water and why the water enhances the taste of cocktails so remarkably, but is hardly ever drunk on its own.

Sodawasser ist eine kohlensäurehaltige Unterart des Tafelwassers
Soda water is a carbonated subspecies of table water

What is soda water?

Soda water is a subtype of table water that has been enriched with at least 570 mg of sodium hydrogen carbonate (sodium bicarbonate) per liter and additional carbon dioxide. Whether the water is groundwater, tap water or spring water is irrelevant.

However, these guidelines from the German Food Regulation are not internationally binding. In Austria, for example, water can be described as soda water if it contains at least 4g of carbon dioxide - without the addition of baking soda.

The addition of baking soda gives soda water a slightly salty, soapy taste. This is also the reason why soda water, also known simply as soda, is rarely drunk pure.

Soda hat einen leicht seifigen Geschmack. Deshalb wird es nur selten pur getrunken
Soda has a slightly soapy taste. This is why it is rarely drunk neat

Soda water was originally invented in 1826 by a Hungarian Benedictine priest named Anyos Jedlik, who succeeded in adding sodium bicarbonate and carbon dioxide to water. He filled the fizzy drink into a special siphon bottle to prevent the loss of carbon dioxide when it was opened.

Until a few years ago, traditional manufacturers continued to use these conventional siphon bottles. Soda water is currently preferably available from well-stocked online retailers.

Is soda the same as soda water?

Soda water is often abbreviated as soda. However, soda water and soda actually have little to do with each other.

As described above, soda water contains sodium hydrogen carbonate (NaHCO3), or baking soda for short. Many people are also familiar with baking soda from the kitchen, where it is also known as food soda and is used, for example, as a leavening agent in cake or bread dough.

Soda, on the other hand, has the chemical name sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) and is more commonly used as a washing and cleaning agent, which is why sodium carbonate is also known as washing soda. Although soda ash and baking soda are both sodium salts, soda ash reacts much more strongly and intensively than baking soda.

Soda ist zwar die Abkürzung für Sodawasser, ist mit dem Pulverförmigen Soda aber nicht gleichzusetzen
Although soda is the abbreviation for soda water, it is not the same as soda in powder form

But how does soda water get its name? It probably comes from the English. There, both sodium salts are called soda and are only distinguished by their nicknames: soda is called "washing soda" and baking soda. In Germany, too, the name "baking soda" or "food soda" is occasionally used for baking soda. This explains why the water to which baking soda is actually added is called soda water.

However, if you read soda instead of soda water in a cocktail recipe, it means soda water.

What is the difference between soda water and mineral water?

Not all water on supermarket shelves can be called mineral water. In order to bear this title and receive the corresponding official recognition, the water must meet certain requirements:

  • it must come from an underground spring
  • be bottled directly at the place of extraction and
  • its composition must not be changed.

Only iron, sulphur and carbon dioxide may be added or removed. All other minerals and trace elements remain untouched - and determine the taste of the mineral water.

Sodawasser und Mineralwasser sind nicht identisch
Soda water and mineral water are not identical

This explains the difference between soda water and mineral water. While mineral water is always spring water, soda water can also come from the tap or a lake, for example. While only iron, sulphur or carbon dioxide may be added to mineral water, soda is added to soda water - thus changing its composition and taste.

In short: mineral water and soda water do not have the same chemical composition. Soda water tastes much saltier, sometimes even soapy, than mineral water and is not usually available in local supermarkets or drinks shops.

Can you replace soda water with mineral water in cocktails?

Yes and no. There is, of course, a good reason why the list of ingredients for cocktails explicitly mentions soda water - and not mineral water. Only soda water has the unique ability to make certain flavors really blossom and make subtle nuances shine.

Although the sodium hydrogen carbonate contained in soda water reacts with the respective taste buds of the other ingredients on a truly microscopic scale, this "bonding" is enough to round off the taste harmoniously at a high level.

Sodawasser kitzelt aus deinen Drinks den optimalen Geschmack heraus
Soda water teases the optimum taste out of your drinks

The optimum carbon dioxide content also ensures a long-lasting tingling sensation that is never overpowering. For the perfect cocktail, you should therefore also use soda water when soda water is required.

Of course, this does not mean that mineral water cannot be used to make a tasty cocktail. However, it should definitely have a slight taste of its own and not be too fizzy. Mineral water cannot replace soda water in the strict sense, but it does provide a variation on the original recipe that is suitable for everyday use.

Soda water for cocktails

As you have now learned, you should actually use soda water for your drink if it is listed in the recipe. The most popular cocktails simply taste sensational when they are made with soda water - just as their inventors intended.

The Mojito is certainly the most prominent example of this, as soda is what gives it its full power. But Gin Fizz and Hugo also love soda water, which gives the compositions their glamorous flair. Incidentally, an Old Fashioned should really always (!) be prepared exclusively with soda water.

Wenn in deinem Rezept Sodawasser steht, solltest du es nicht einfach durch Mineralwasser ersetzen
If your recipe mentions soda water, you should not simply replace it with mineral water

As you can see, soda water actually belongs in every well-stocked home bar. If you use mineral water from time to time for occasional enjoyment, you're certainly not doing anything wrong. However, it is also quite easy to make your own soda water!

Make your own soda water


  • 7g baking soda
  • 500ml still water
  • 500ml sparkling water
  • This is what you have to do:


  1. Mix the bicarbonate of soda with still water until it has dissolved.
  2. Add 2cl of bicarbonate of soda to the sparkling water and stir carefully so that not too much carbon dioxide is lost.
  3. You can store the remaining bicarbonate of soda mixture in the fridge for several days.

Buying soda water

But where can I buy soda water? You can buy the delicious Swiss Mountain Spring Soda Water here. Otherwise, you can usually find it in well-stocked shops.


About the autor:

Honest & Rare Editorial Team

Honest & Rare Editorial Team


Some things can only be accomplished as a team. Just like this article here! That's why we mark all jointly created articles as editorial contributions. Cheers!

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