Both club soda and ginger ale are very popular for adding to mixed alcoholic drinks. They can both also be enjoyed alone, or mixed to make a mocktail, or a nonalcoholic version of a cocktail.
There are a few differences between these two drinks, despite them often being used interchangeably, or in similar beverage mixtures.
How Are Club Soda and Ginger Ale Similar?
One of the main features of both club soda and ginger ale is their carbonation. These drinks both have bubbles, which are a fun feature of a drink on their own, but can also add an interesting element to anything that they are added to.
They are also both used as something to mix into other drinks. They have carbonation, so they are able to add something to different drinks and juices that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Taste aside, these two drinks both serve to add carbonation to similar mixed drinks. However, both club soda and ginger ale are frequently enjoyed on their own.
Club soda is often served as an alternative to plain water. Ginger ale is a drink that is equivalent to any other sweet soda.
How Are Club Soda and Ginger Ale Different?
One of the biggest differences between club soda and ginger ale is flavor.
Club soda is essentially just carbonated water, whereas ginger ale has more added flavor and sweetness. To some people, club soda might even have a slightly bitter taste, although this is often covered up when it is mixed with other beverages.
These drinks might also be used for different purposes.
If you are looking to add just carbonation to a drink, you might rather use club soda. If you want to introduce additional sweetness to a drink, you would probably rather use ginger ale, which has added sugar.
These drinks have different flavors, so specific drink recipes will call for either one or the other.
What Is Club Soda?
Club soda is just water that has added carbonation. It goes by many different names, which could change based on the region that you’re from.
Some of the other names that club soda goes by include carbonated water, soda water, seltzer water, and sparkling water.
To some people, it just tastes like water. However, other people are able to taste some bitterness in it.
This bitterness comes from the bubbles in the club soda, but can be covered up by adding other flavors to the water.
Club soda can be made in two different ways. It can be created artificially, but it does occur naturally.
Though rare, there are a few places in the world where you can find mineral water that has the added bubbles that club soda does.
However, a lot of club soda is made artificially. This is typically done by adding evaporated carbon into plain water under pressure.
What Is Ginger Ale?
Ginger ale is very similar to club soda in a lot of ways.
The base of ginger ale (and all other sparkling beverages) is essentially just club soda. The mixture of water and carbon is what provides the bubbles in any soda or sparkling drink.
This drink is flavored with ginger, and is sweet. It usually has a subtle taste, but it is not bitter like club soda can be.
This makes ginger ale a great drink either on its own or as a mixer with alcoholic beverages or other things.
The ginger flavor that is added in ginger ale could be either natural or artificial. Both of these flavoring methods make ginger ale, but every brand might have a slightly different taste than another.
Naturally flavored ginger ale will likely be more expensive than artificially flavored ginger ale, but many prefer the natural flavor over artificial.
Pros of Club Soda
Club soda is great because it adds carbonation to a drink without significantly changing its flavor. There are many different possibilities of different drinks to add club soda to, and it’s great if you want to control how sweet you make the drink.
When you are mixing club soda with an alcoholic drink, the bubbles and water in the club soda work to help mask and dilute the flavor of the straight alcohol. Some mixed drinks only call for the combination of club soda and alcohol.
Cons of Club Soda
While club soda is very versatile, there is little that it brings to a drink other than the carbonation.
When you are looking to add an element to a drink, club soda only adds one thing. To make it interesting, you have to add other flavors to it.
It also has a slightly bitter taste, which some people find off putting. Many of these people cannot drink club soda alone, and have to have some other added flavor to it.
This bitterness is fairly easy to cover with other flavors and drinks, but it is something that you have to take into account when you are using club soda.
If you are making an alcoholic drink, and are adding club soda, you then have to work to balance out the flavors of both the alcohol and club soda by adding even more ingredients.
But, you have to be careful about disturbing the ratio of the drink. By adding too many other things, you are reducing the amount of carbonation, and also making the alcohol content lower.
Pros of Ginger Ale
One of the main things that ginger ale would add to the drink is the carbonation, but it also carries a sweetness and extra flavor.
It’s easy to make a cocktail or mixed drink with ginger ale, as the flavor goes with a lot of different alcoholic beverages or other juices or flavors. Adding a complimentary flavor to ginger ale is very easy.
The carbonated water in ginger ale works exactly the same as club soda, and both masks and dilutes the flavor of alcohol in a mixed drink.
Ginger ale also has the added benefit of its ginger flavoring and added sugar that club soda does not have. This added flavor and sugar further works to make a mixed drink taste good, without having to dilute the drink further by adding different juices.
Making a drink with ginger ale is arguably easier than making a mixed drink with club soda because it will make the drink flavorful and sweet on its own, without having to add a third ingredient into the mix.
Cons of Ginger Ale
If you are not looking to add more sweetness to a drink, this would be the biggest con of adding ginger ale. While ginger ale works very similarly to club soda in a lot of ways, the added sugar in it might not be what everyone is looking for in their drink.
While a lot of different flavors go well with the ginger flavoring in ginger ale, not everything does. It’s possible that the drinks you’re trying to make won’t match well with ginger ale.
Ginger ale is also not always a substitute for club soda. A lot of classic drinks are made with specifically club soda, and while you can substitute in ginger ale, it would not be the same drink.