I’ll state it outright: I have instant disdain, deservedly or not, for Vodka Soda drinkers. They’re the scourge of bars everywhere – a festering scab that refuses to heal. They represent to me the epitome of mainstream. They’re Camry drivers and undergrads destined for cubicle life and 2.5 kids. They’ll eventually own a Chocolate Lab, and a vinyl-clad, attached, townhouse in Nyack. Heaven help them – please. Barf me out. No concoction at a bar screams boring, self-righteous, terrified to try something different, and “I’ve got an Eating Disorder,” louder than ye Olde Vodka-Club. Now that I’ve fully gotten my hate on properly, let’s look at some of the “facts” behind the cocktail equivalent of Rice Cakes.
First and foremost, most bar customers I’ve come across over the years are thoroughly uneducated and have pre-conceived (often downright wrong) notions about many things, including various carbonated waters. So, let’s set the record straight once and for all.
Bridge-and-Tunnel bros that wander into my bars, inexplicably tend to order by the way of “Vodka Club.” You’d be hard-pressed not to notice the twisted facial expression and apprehension when I present the highball (with whichever Call Vodka they may have noted) and say something like “Here ya go sir. One Vodka Soda.” Occasionally, I’m confronted with a reply like “No man! I wanted Vodka and Club [soda] not Vodka Soda.”
So what’s the deal? The “problem” again is that most of the drinking public is ignorant. Probably 97% of bars/restaurants/clubs/lounges utilize a commercial WunderBar soda gun system or a Soda Dispensing Machine. An handful of small, boutique or upstart (mostly) restaurant bars, rely on cute little 8oz soda nips, usually in glass bottles. The issue is that what comes out of those soda guns is simply Carbonated Water (aka, Seltzer), not San Pelligrino or even Schweppes Club Soda.
There are three types of Carbonated Water. Though all are technically “carbonated water,” there are distinct differences:
- Seltzer: Water with man-made carbonation. In bars, this equates to tap water, carbonated via large CO2 tanks, and piped through WunderBar guns.
- Mineral Water: Bottled at the source – usually a natural Earthy spring. Sometimes filtered, other times – not. Contains usually consistent level of various minerals including salts.
- Club Soda: Seltzer infused with man-made minerals – usually, some sort of salt like Sodium Bicarbonate.
So why would a guest get so upset when ordering a Vodka Soda and getting one or the other? I can’t really explain it. My guess is that they mistakenly, and stupidly believe that “Soda” and “Club” are as different as Pizza and Salad. Who really knows?
I sometimes think that strict Vodka Soda drinkers suspect that one or the other (or more “flavorful” cocktails) may have an additional, unwanted caloric impact or may perhaps contain trace contaminants, which may or may not contribute to booze hangovers.
It is true that Vodka tends to be lower in calories than many other spirits, beers, and wines. Combine it with calorie-free Club Soda, and you can indeed minimize the translation to your jelly roll and posterior over time – sure. But at what price? Unless you’re binge drinking most days for months on end (or opting for something like alcoholic milkshakes), the potential negative weight effects of opting for some other tasty beverage, are likely minimal.
It’s also true that fewer ingested contaminants, can reduce that sick feeling the next morning. But, that’s only one factor when it comes to hangovers. There’s a great article on the topic here. Chugging a dozen Vodka Sodas during your all night quest to land some Strange, will likely not prevent you from feeling like death the next day. It’s a myth. The main reason you feel ill after a bender is because alcohol is a diuretic. Eat something substantial, slow your drinking down, and drink plenty of water between cocktails (regardless of what they are) and you’re far more likely to survive that nuclear holocaust of a migraine the next morning.
That said, like the car you drive, the shoes you wear, your facial expression, the state of your fingernails, and toxicity of your “odiferousness;” your choice of cocktail speaks volumes about who you are, right or wrong. Though your choice of imbibing may not say much to the bros next to you, to the initiated (the bartender, your potential paramour, the educated drinker) it communicates tons.
Personally, I steer well away from chicks that order mostly, or exclusively, Vodka Sodas. Combined with some of the other factors mentioned above, It tells me you’re somewhat obsessive, potentially boring, fearing experimentation, a dead fish in bed, terrified of even one additional ounce on your already puny frame, and are undoubtedly mainstream. For God’s sake – even a Skinny Bitch Margarita, or Gin/Vodka Press displays more character.
No thanks Vodka Soda chick. Hot or not, you’ve instantly turned me off. I’m far more mesmerized by the random Whiskey Chick.