10 Types Of Soda And What Spirits They Pair Best With

Soda is that fizzy beverage that health nuts and dentists love to hate. The sugary drink doesn't serve much of a nutritional purpose, but it sure is refreshing on a hot day. Certain activities are meant to be accompanied by a cold soda. You wouldn't go to the movie theater and order a large popcorn with a side of orange juice, would you? How about heading through the McDonald's drive-thru without ordering the mysteriously delicious fountain coke, iced to perfection? Soda may be controversial, but it's hard to resist entirely. 

Soft drinks also serve a place behind any regular bar. Soda is the ultimate universal mixer used to make spirits more palatable. We all know the classics, like a rum and Coke, gin and tonic, or Dirty Shirley, but that's just the beginning. There are actually endless possibilities when it comes to incorporating soda into your cocktails that are far from boring and don't require you to whip out your bartending kit. Unlike the fancier mixers and liqueurs used in extravagant cocktails, soda is something you can find at the grocery store, the gas station, the bar, or even your own home, on a regular basis. 

Soda is the reliable mixer that doesn't always get the credit it deserves. So we decided to highlight 10 must-try combinations of soda and alcohol you might not have thought of before — and you could end up with your new go-to bar order if you cannot stomach another whiskey sour or tequila sunrise. 

A&W root beer and Jägermeister

Jägerbombs might make for a fun bar experience, but a shot of licorice liqueur dunked into a Red Bull energy drink isn't exactly something you want to order more than once a night. If you can't get enough of this herbal digestif, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy Jägermeister. One simple and underrated cocktail is a shot of Jägermeister mixed with a bit of A&W root beer. The syrupy spirit's notes of black licorice pair well with this sweet and malty soda. Sure, you can get artisanal root beer that might be a bit pricey, but classics like A&W pair perfectly with a little bit of Jäger.

One fan on Reddit referred to the combination as a Jim Morrison cocktail, which seems to be somewhat common — a Twitter user also mentions a shot named after The Doors frontman, mixing root beer and Jäger, and Bar None Drinks has a recipe for a Jim Morrison drink featuring root beer Schnapps, Jäger, and a Coca-Cola floater. It's probably easier to simply ask the bartender to pour you some root beer and Jägermeister, rather than reciting the name of a legendary musician to them, but we say go for it. And if you really want to take things to another level, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to create an indulgent, adult root beer float. 

Ginger ale and rye whiskey

Whiskey and ginger ale isn't a totally novel cocktail concept — but particularly, a peppery rye whiskey is a must-try pairing with the bubbly, spiced beverage. Ginger ale is a diamond in the rough when it comes to sodas. While it's still light and sweet, it has an aromatic value thanks to the ginger. And rye tends to have more of a bite than your standard, corn-heavy bourbon, so it almost adds a savory element that makes for a refreshing, balanced drink. A bit of lime juice only enhances the flavor in this mix, but it's not necessary if you really don't want to exert the extra effort. 

You can't go wrong with a little Canada Dry ginger ale and Knob Creek Straight Rye or Bulleit Rye. The "deliciously different" flavor of Vernors Ginger Ale also tastes good when paired with a shot of rye, even though it's a bit more controversial of a drink for ginger ale purists (via Dr Pepper Museum). And if you're looking for a rye whiskey that's a bit more unique, some options that would pair well with ginger ale include New York Distilling Company's Ragtime Rye or Templeton Rye. On the other hand, if you really want to keep it simple, you can't go wrong with Jack Daniel's Tennessee Rye and a bit of ginger ale for a satisfying nightcap (via Reddit).

Sprite and fruity vodka

If you're someone who orders a vodka soda with a splash of cranberry at every bar you ever go to, you're long overdue to try something new. Sprite is as basic as mixers come, thanks to its light and bright flavor — and sure, a vodka and Sprite is good, but it's made even better when you get fancy and add flavored vodka. 

There are so many flavors that go well with Sprite, but we've got a few ideas to get you started. For a lemon-lime kick, you can't go wrong with a citrus-flavored vodka like Skyy Infusions Citrus or Absolut Citron. If you want to get creative and complex, try one of Ketel One's Botanical vodkas, such as the cucumber and mint flavor, mixed with a little Sprite. For those with more luxurious tastes, Ciroc has endless fun flavors of vodka like red berry, peach, and coconut. And for a drink that has a Dirty Shirley vibe, but with a signature twist, try mixing Sprite and cherry-flavored vodka over ice for a foolproof blend. An affordable bottle like Svedka Cherry Limeade should do the trick. 

Another fun and fizzy option we'll throw out there: Hard seltzer brand Truly is out with a new line of fruity vodkas inspired by some of the brand's most popular flavors. We're particularly fond of the strawberry lemonade vodka. Adding Sprite brings some sweetness, lemon-lime flavor, and bubbles for a perfectly simple and sippable summer cocktail. 

Mountain Dew and tequila

Mountain Dew with a shot of cheap tequila may be known as the hillbilly margarita, but don't knock it until you try it. Sure, Mountain Dew's neon green hue can be a bit intimidating for drinkers with a more refined palette. But when paired with a nice blanco, it actually goes down shockingly smoothly. If the sweetness in Mountain Dew is too much for you, you can also mix in some plain soda water to mellow out the flavor a bit. Mountain Dew and tequila is not the absolute must-try cocktail of all time, but it is worth it in a pinch if you're craving a margarita but don't have the proper ingredients on hand. And it's also worth mentioning — Mountain Dew Baja Blast is another good option to pair with tequila, especially if you're at a Taco Bell Cantina that serves alcohol. 

Some cocktail mixers are perfect at hiding the harshness of lower-shelf tequilas, but Mountain Dew isn't exactly one of them. Still, you don't want to break out your finest bottle just for this simple drink. We suggest a middle-of-the-road tequila, like Don Ramón Tequila Silver or Milagro Silver, each of which retail for around $30 on Drizly. The plus side is that if you try this combo and never want to crack open another can of Mountain Dew in your life, you're still left with a solid bottle of tequila to enjoy in future margaritas and shots, sans the green soda. 

Cherry Coca-Cola and red wine

Sangria aside, it might be hard for some people to wrap their minds around the idea of adding anything to red wine. Even adding ice to wine is a big no-no for many enthusiasts. Once you bring up the idea of mixing sugary soda with wine, plenty of wine lovers might really start to think there's something wrong with you. Unless, of course, they are familiar with the magic of a calimocho. 

A calimocho is a popular drink in Spain that is a mix of Coca-Cola and red wine. The soda adds effervescence and a bit of sweetness to the wine, and makes it more of a refreshing drink entirely. We put our own spin on the classic calimocho by mixing red wine with Cherry Coke instead, which pairs particularly nicely with red wine with underlying notes of fruit and vanilla. Cherry Coca-Cola and red wine is essentially the laziest sangria you can ever make. And you will find goes down easier than a plain old glass of cabernet. Of course, if you're wary of wasting a good red, try this cocktail out with a cheaper bottle (or box). 

If you're too embarrassed to order this cocktail at a bar, you can always order the two drinks separately and mix them yourself to see if you like it. If someone questions your choice of drink, just tell them they haven't lived until they've tasted this grown-up version of Cherry Coke. 

7UP and gin

Gin and tonics are good, but they get old pretty quickly and can start to make your mouth dry if you have too many. So if gin is your spirit of choice, mixing your favorite bottle of the spirit with a bit of 7UP is the easiest way to get a makeshift gin fizz instead. You can go above and beyond with a little squeeze of lime juice in your cocktail and a wedge for garnish, but it isn't totally necessary to get the job done. Gin and 7UP is the perfect pairing for a sweet cocktail that is equally refreshing. 

Hendricks or Tanqueray are both foolproof options for this cocktail that are affordable and easy to find on most liquor store and bar shelves. Each gin has a relatively subtle flavor, which pairs nicely with the lemon-lime punch from the 7UP without overpowering it. If you're feeling even more creative, try a craft option like Roku Japanese Gin with a bit of 7UP, and notice how the soda pairs differently with this spirit's sweet and spicy flavors.

Pepsi and bourbon

Sure, everyone's had a whiskey and coke, so stand out by ordering a Pepsi and bourbon next time you belly up to the bar. Coca-Cola has notes of vanilla and a touch of sodium that makes it a bit less sweet than Pepsi, which also has a subtle citrus kick in comparison. Like Pepsi, bourbon often tends to have a bit of a sweeter flavor, especially if you compare it to a rye whiskey. And to be clear, all bourbon is technically whiskey made in the United States, but follows its own unique recipes and techniques.

In cocktails, the similar spirits and sodas yield noticeably different results. Pepsi and bourbon feels indulgent, like the adult-version of dessert after a satisfying meal. It may not be a drink you want to stick with the entire night because it is full of sugar, but it's so good that you'll be tempted to. This is another cocktail best made with an affordable bottle of booze, like Wild Turkey 101 or Evan Williams bourbon, which each retail for less than $30 (via Drizly). If you feel like splurging, one former Reddit user made a cocktail out of Diet Pepsi and Weller 12 Year that was too good not to share — though it is quite a pricier option at about $250 a bottle (via Drizly). 

Orange Crush and whipped cream vodka

Indulge your inner child and sip on something that tastes like the grown-up version of a creamsicle. Orange Crush and other orange-flavored sodas are under-utilized in the cocktail space, especially when compared to their counterparts, like Coke, Sprite, Ginger Ale, and Tonic. And it's almost shocking how orange juice is so common on cocktail menus but this bubbly version is not. Well, if we have anything to do with it, that will no longer be the case. If you're looking for a crowd-pleasing cocktail that's super simple to make, grab a 2-liter bottle of Orange Crush, a bottle of whipped cream vodka (Smirnoff or Pinnacle make solid bottles), mix them together, and never look back. Beware: This may be one of the sweetest drinks on the list, but it sure is tasty. People who tend to complain about sugary drinks making their teeth hurt should probably skip this recipe altogether, or water it down with a bit of flavorless seltzer water.  

For another refreshingly sweet twist, cut the orange soda in half and add plain soda water and a bit of fresh orange juice into the mix. Garnish each glass with a little orange wedge, and your guests might believe you were juicing oranges and muddling them with simple syrup behind the bar to create this recipe. However, you won by figuring out how to work smarter, not harder. As one Reddit user wrote about this drink, "It's not classy, but it's damn delicious." 

Fresca and mezcal

The key to a delicious, minimal-effort tequila cocktail, especially one with tart paloma vibes, is Fresca. It's a grapefruit-citrus soda that is arguably one of the most underrated mixers ever, especially for tequila. One Reddit user recommends mixing tequila with any grapefruit soda like Squirt or Fresca, calling "the quick poor man's margarita." And if this spirit's smoke-heavy cousin, mezcal, is more your thing, the mix is a must-try. The high acidity of the soda helps balance out the intensity of the spirit, leaving you with a drink that will taste like it took a lot longer to make than it actually did.

A splash of grapefruit juice mixed in makes this drink even more well-rounded, but it's not totally necessary. If you're in a pinch, all you need is a bottle of booze and a 2-liter of Fresca. If you need some inspiration for what mezcal to try, Don Ramon Mezcal Joven is a universal option that serves as a tasteful sipper, as well as something to mix in cocktails that won't break the bank. Ilegal Mezcal Joven and Mezcal Unión Uno are also affordable bottles that would be mighty tasty with a splash of Fresca. 

And if you're absolutely desperate, but can't find any Fresca, another popular option to mix with your mezcal is Squirt. As another Reddit user notes about their homemade palomas, "We've tried the fancy version using fresh grapefruit juice and soda and, frankly, the Squirt version is just as good." 

Dr Pepper and spiced rum

Those of us who have ever been to a bar are probably familiar with the pairing of rum and coke. It's often a drink for beginners who don't know what they like yet and want to sound like they know what they're ordering. It's not a bad combo though, as rum is light and pairs well with the sweetness of soda. To give this drink a more grown-up spin, we suggest mixing rum with Dr Pepper and its 23 flavors. Particularly, the warmth of spiced rum like Sailor Jerry or Captain Morgan adds even more complexity to the soda. 

This drink is almost overwhelmingly sweet and spicy, like a Red Hots cinnamon candy — which means it's in a way that's totally working. It's basically sugar, spice, and everything nice. Dr Pepper is also a great soda to mix with plain white rums like Bacardi, but spiced rum lovers have to try this combination, which may quickly become their new drink of choice. Spiced rum can sometimes end up sitting on your bar shelf forever because it's not as universal as its clear counterpart, but Dr Pepper is one easy way to use a bottle up and enjoy it along the way. And even a splash of coconut rum like Malibu adds a little something extra to Dr Pepper, but it tends to fare better with fruitier flavors.