We’re staunch believers in the idea that better input equals better output. When it comes to cocktails and spirits, we also like to think that when you drink better, you feel better. The first step to drinking better is knowing what exactly you’re putting into your body. That’s why we’re rolling out a new series we are dubbing Spirit School’ed. Through this series, we’ll take a look at the vast selection you might behind the bar and how it ends up in your drink. Ready? Bottoms up.
For our first episode, we’re starting with the basics: water. Even the simplest ingredient like H2O can drastically impact your drink, depending on how you use it. We’re going to break down the most popular sparkling options you’ll find in cocktails: soda water, tonic water, and mineral water.
1. Mineral Water
Although a typical choice for cocktails, mineral water is the most naturally occurring form of sparkling water. By definition, mineral water comes from a spring that contains various minerals, typically salts and sulfur compounds. The “sparkling” or lightly carbonated nature of mineral water is caused by contained gases within the water, which is noticeably less bubbly in comparison to other carbonated waters. A Perrier Rondelle, or Perrier with a slice of lemon, is a common French apéritif or café offering for its dry and light taste.
We pair mineral water with our original Belle Isle Premium Moonshine for a light, refreshing spritz. The natural minerality of the water and slight effervescence mix perfectly with our base spirit's notes of sweet corn and molasses to create a smooth, evenly balanced cocktail.
2. Club Soda
Club soda, sometimes another moniker for soda water, is identical to mineral water in look and somewhat similar in taste. Whereas mineral water draws the minerality of its contents naturally, club soda’s mineral components are artificially added. This addition gives club soda a slightly stronger mineral taste and more intense carbonation as well. Because of its brighter, more intense taste, club soda pairs well with flavors that are equally as bright like citruses and fruit-forward spirits.
Our go-to simple cocktail recipe is Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit and club soda. The sweet and bright citrus notes of the spirit are accented by the sharp taste of the club soda, resulting in an insanely refreshing drink you can always come back to.
3. Tonic Water
Although colloquially known as tonic water, our next sparkling cocktail ingredient is probably closer to a soda. Tonic water is a sweetened, carbonated infusion made with quinine, a naturally occurring compound found in the bark of the Cinchona tree (or more commonly the Remijia tree). Tonic water was originally used as a preventative malaria treatment, and is still sometimes used as a treatment for leg cramps. Although the tonic water you find today has much less quinine than the original medicinal recipe, the same unique bitter flavor can still make for a fantastic addition to your cocktail of choice.
While the classic gin and tonic is a great default, pairing tonic with other botanical, savory, or bitter spirits can make for a fantastic cocktail. Our favorite is the Rise & Shine Tonic, just a simple and invigorating combination of Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee and tonic water.