It’s a question almost every cocktail newbie will wonder, but might be afraid to ask. I think the answer to anything involving cocktail explorations is that you can add whatever you want, but if you’re wondering if club soda and tonic water are interchangeable, the answer is no.
Why not? Do a simple taste test and you’ll find out. The two may both be carbonated waters, but tonic water has quinine and a sweetener added to it, which gives it a bitter flavour. It pairs well with juniper, hence the popularity of a good, old G&T (gin and tonic).
Tip: Before you buy tonic water, check the label. Cheaper brands like Canada Dry tonic water often contain high fructose corn syrup. Alternatives like Fever Free, Fentimans or Q Tonic contain alternative natural sweeteners like natural cane/fruit sugar, cane syrup or organic agave.
Club soda, on the other hand, typically has minerals like potassium bicarbonate and potassium citrate added to it to enhance its flavour, but isn’t as salient.
What can you use as alternatives? Well, for club soda, any straight carbonated water will do, whether it’s a mineral water with natural carbonation, seltzer water or one you’ve made with your Soda Stream. If you find yourself without tonic, you could add a dash of your favourite bitter to carbonated water, though it won’t give you quite the same flavour. Alternatively, keep a bottle of tonic syrup on hand like Porter’s Tonic Syrup from Calgary or Bowman Bottling Co. Tonic out of Vancouver.