picture of a can pouring out sparkling water into a glass with crushed ice

Best Sparkling Water for Making Cocktails

There's great satisfaction in enjoying a cocktail that has a nice strong fizz—one that you can hear and feel tingling around your palette.

Edd Siu
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In this guide, we'll go over the following:

There's great satisfaction in enjoying a cocktail that has a nice strong fizz—one that you can hear and feel tingling around your palette.

But drinking, for example, a Tom Collins that is flat is a sad thing.

Carbonation is an important ingredient in a cocktail.

A good quality club soda, sparkling water, seltzer, etc., is as important as the rest of the ingredients in a cocktail. So knowing what types and brands to use is imperative.

So what's the best sparkling water for making cocktails?

First, let's get this out of the way...

The difference between Club Soda, Seltzer, and Sparkling Water

Soda water, seltzer, carbonated water, club soda, and sparkling water are all terms used to describe what is essentially the same thing: plain water with carbon dioxide. But with some subtle differences.

water glass with many hundreds of bubbles

You can use any of these to make cocktails—though not all brands make the best fizzy cocktails.

Here's the gist of it:

Sparkling mineral water: spring water that is naturally carbonated and with naturally occurring minerals bottled close to the source. Think of San Pellegrino or Perrier. These minerals are what give the water a specific flavor.

Sparkling water or seltzer: plain water, artificially carbonated. No added minerals. It has a pretty neutral flavor. Examples of seltzers are Lacroix, Polar,

Club Soda: water that has been carbonated artificially by injecting carbon dioxide gas and added minerals for taste.

It has a slightly salty flavor because of the addition of potassium bicarbonate and potassium sulfate.

Think of plastic bottles labeled "Club Soda" at your grocery store.

It's all about the bubbles

The best sparkling water that you can use for cocktails is one with high, strong, and sharp carbonation.

When you add your base spirit, sweetener, citrus, etc.—you tend to thicken the consistency of your final drink, as well as dilute the carbonation.

Your goal is to use sparkling water with high carbonation so that after adding all your ingredients, you still have a respectable level of carbonation in your drink.

soda water in ice

What are the best brands of sparkling water for cocktails?

Not all brands have strong carbonation; a lot of them have a weak fizz.

The brands with high carbonation that I've used previously and recommend for making fizzy cocktails are:

  • 365 plain sparkling water cans from Whole Foods.
  • HEB brand - Texan brethren take note.
  • Trader Joe's brand plain sparkling water.
  • Kroger brand sparkling water
  • Polar
  • Canada Dry sparkling seltzer water
  • Topo Chico - I usually only for these on special occasions since it's pricier than those mentioned above. Also, it's a must for Ranch Waters.
  • Mineragua from Jarritos - equally as potent as Topo Chico.

Using a Soda Stream for Cocktails

Also, if you have access to a Soda Stream, this works too for use in fizzy cocktails. Just make sure you are using good-tasting filtered water and that you're adding extra pumps of CO2 into the carbonating bottle. Some cities have tap water with a very particular (undesirable) flavor—if this is the case, get a gallon of spring water and carbonate it.

Another Soda Stream pro-tip: make sure that before you carbonate, your still water is ice cold. Carbon dioxide dissolves easier in cold water, which means better carbonation.

At my old coffee bar, we abused our Soda Stream, but it never failed us. Again, make sure to inject extra carbonation.

I have a Soda Stream at home, which I should be using more. However, I prefer to have cold cans in stock so that they are ready to go. Also, they are ready whenever I need to go make drinks elsewhere.

For a more contemporary (aka premium) looking carbonating device, check out the Aarke Carbonator.

hand opening a plain soda can

What about Perrier and Pellegrino?

Perrier and San Pellegrino have very gentle carbonation, Perrier having more than Pellegrino. They are not ideal for making cocktails and are best enjoyed plain on the side.

The same goes for the abundantly available LaCroix, not ideal for making cocktails. The carbonation gets lost after you add your ingredients.

Cocktails made with sparkling water

Ditch the hard seltzers and mix up some real drinks and explore the world of sparkling water cocktails.

Here are a few excellent cocktails that benefit from really good fizzy bubbles:

Sidenote: If you want to dive deeper into the science of carbonation, check out the Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold. In the book, also he shows how to build a carbonating rig.

cocktail in a highball with mint garnish and lime