Club Soda vs. Seltzer: What’s the Difference?

When you’re fizzing up a Sloe Gin Fizz or adding that extra splash of spritz to an Aperol Spritz, what do you reach for, club soda or seltzer? They’re both bubbly water, but that doesn’t mean they’re exactly the same. Here are the differences between club soda and seltzer water, and the best ways to use them.

Seltzer

What Is It:
Seltzer water is another way to say regular bubbly water. Seltzer is artificially carbonated (unlike mineral water, which is, for the most part, naturally carbonated) and usually fairly cheap. It generally has a neutral flavor, meaning it imparts only the bubbles and dilution to a cocktail—no extra flavors. You can buy seltzer (common brands include Canada Dry, Vintage, Polar and Schweppes) or you can make it at home with a carbonator like a SodaStream.

When to Use It:
Thanks to its neutral quality, seltzer is great in just about any fizzy drink. Use it to top off a Tom Collins, spritz up an Americano or turn a straight pour of any spirit into a Highball.

Club Soda

What Is It:
Though they might look the same and are often treated the same, club soda and seltzer have one key difference: Club soda is more than just carbon dioxide gas and water. It also contains mineral-like ingredients such as sodium citrate, potassium bicarbonate and potassium sulfate. It’s essentially an artificial version of mineral water. Popular brands include Schweppes, Polar, Canada Dry and Seagram’s. There are also craft club sodas on the market made by brands like Boylan’s, Q and Fever Tree.

When to Use It:
While, for the most part, people aren’t able to tell the difference between the flavor of club soda and seltzer, club soda tastes slightly mineral and a touch salty. It is not completely neutral. Though it will absolutely do the trick in any cocktail that calls for sparkling water, we prefer it in simple Highballs—especially paired with spirits that work well with a touch of saline, such as tequila or scotch.