Soda may seem like a simple premise – some bubbles in water that we take for granted as a mixer with vodka or a sipper through a fancy meal. But it took several men a long time to get those bubbles in there. It also caused some deaths and at one time was thought be a cure all for the modern age.
Soda is, quite simply, water with dissolved CO2. But the process to get it in there took much experimentation. Initially, minerals and salts were added to try and replicate the naturally occurring sparkling water that sprung from underground aquifers. It was thought to cure all manner of ailments, but it was difficult to transport and a solution needed to found to produce it artificially. The minerals used often left a sour taste and all manner of cordials were added to mask the taste.
Hotels had soda fountains manned by men dubbed the ‘Soda Jerks’. They used massive mixing drums that had a tendency to explode under pressure and there are reports of deaths of both jerks and customers.
Jacob Schweppe was one of the first to successfully create soda in a viable and commercial manner. Being the philanthropic entrepreneur he was, he gave his soda away for free to medical practitioners and hospitals, believing it could cure all manner of ailments.
Nowadays, soda water is created to give us optimal effervescence and often mineral salts are added to balance the flavour and provide a more rounded mouthfeel.
Today, the process of carbonation is relatively easy. We can create soda just about anywhere, dissolving pressurised gas (carbon dioxide) into water. But it’s the level of carbonation, the freshness of the product and the mineral salts that determine the quality of the final drink.
Better quality soda is pretty essential when you start dealing with mixing it into cocktails that have delicate and expensive ingredients. While the soda may seem humble, its effect on the drink can be quite profound.
While it might seem a simple drink, we have to pay homage the soda pioneers that gave so much so we could have bubbles in our water.