Soda and Spirit Combos That Make Simple Cocktail Substitutes

You won't miss sipping highballs at a cocktail bar for long.

soda and spirits
Maitane Romagosa/Thrillist
Maitane Romagosa/Thrillist

We all know that rum and Coke go together like, well, rum and Coke. Whiskey and ginger ale are a classic combination, and gin and juice is more than just a memorable lyric. Even Diet Coke and vodka have become an accepted duo, thanks to Taylor Swift’s powers of persuasion. But what about other soda and spirit combos?

To find out which unlikely duos work well together, we took a tip from our college days and started mixing booze with random sips of soda left in the fridge. Some of the experiments were epic fails (sorry, mezcal and Mountain Dew), but others were shockingly tasty. These days we have to rely on our at-home bar and whatever else we have on hand more than ever, so here are a bunch of two-ingredient drinks to get you through.

Marisa Chafetz / Supercall

Whiskey + Sprite

While a Seven and Seven (Seagram’s 7 whiskey and 7 Up) is a widely known cocktail, a Whiskey Sprite is a somewhat less common order. But the duo works beautifully together, especially if you opt for a lighter Irish whiskey or younger bourbon. It’s easy drinking with a touch of spice -- like a Whiskey Ginger turned down a notch for easy at-home drinking.

Marisa Chafetz / Supercall

Whiskey + Mountain Dew

Behold, the lazy man’s Whiskey Sour. Zesty Mountain Dew and whiskey come together in a refreshing, low-brow approximation of the classic cocktail. If you really want to lean into the drink, use moonshine in place of standard whiskey.

Marisa Chafetz / Supercall

Spiced Rum + 7 Up

Here’s a combination only the most desperate 22-year-old at a house party, and us -- the daring researches of soda and booze -- would try. But should they be brave enough, they would be richly rewarded with a shockingly rich and fragrant beverage. Somehow, when combined, spiced rum and 7 Up taste like a boozy cream soda.

Tequila + Sprite

It's natural to pair Sprite with tequila in an attempt to come out with some form of a margarita. Though Sprite is much more syrupy than the average agave-infused marg, it's balanced with its subtle hints of lemon and lime and effervescent. That being said, a lime wedge and salt on the rim will only improve this incredibly simple drink.  

Marisa Chafetz / Supercall

Jägermeister + Mountain Dew

We know, you swore off Jäger at least a decade ago. But the bitter, herbaceous spirit is making a comeback in the cocktailing world and it's worth trying again. It also happens to be surprisingly nuanced and delicious with Mountain Dew. The soda brings bright citrus notes, while the Jäger adds tannic depth. Yes, those are things we really said about Jäger and Dew. And we meant them.

Marisa Chafetz / Supercall

Rye Whiskey + Cherry Coke

Sweet, fruity Cherry Coke and spicy rye come together to make a spritzy, Manhattan-esque cola combo. With notes of black pepper, this Highball is an easy sipper that would go well with foods like saucy barbecue. Try it at your next tailgate.

Vanilla Vodka + Vanilla Coke

If you really want to lean into a sweet beverage that can double as dessert, opt for a Vanilla Coke with a splash of vanilla-flavored vodka. Vanilla Coke has gotta be one of the best variations of Coke, so adding a punch of vodka is a natural progression. Top the whole thing with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and thank us later.

Marisa Chafetz / Supercall

Kahlúa + Pepsi

Pepsi and Kahlúa come together to make coffee cola. The sweet coffee liqueur amps up Pepsi’s slightly more subtle flavors, while Pepsi gives the drink aggressive effervescence. Pepsi devotees, here’s your cocktail, finally.

Marisa Chafetz / Supercall

Orange Soda + Fireball

The combination of orange soda and everyone’s favorite flavored whisky tastes like straight up Red Hots. No one will ever call this drink a sophisticated cocktail, but if you’re looking for a way to consume Fireball that doesn’t call for shots, this should be it.

Fresca + Tequila

Here it is, the easiest Paloma you will ever make: just mix some Fresca, a grapefruit-flavored soda, with a splash of tequila and call it a day. If you have it on hand, a squeeze of lime and some salt will take this simple citrus-forward drink to the next level.

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Justine Sterling is a Thrillist contributor.