Not Loving TikTok's 'Healthy Coke'? These Soda Alternatives Taste Better

·4 min read

Summer is officially here! As much as I love water, I do love a bubbly, refreshing sparkling water as an alternative to help keep me hydrated–especially when the weather is as hot and humid as it is right now. I'm not the only one turning to the bubbly stuff lately: Recently, a recipe for "healthy Coke" started floating around TikTok, with sparkling water as one of two ingredients.

The viral drink simply has you add a splash of balsamic vinegar to icy cold sparkling water. (That's right: The sour liquid used in salad dressings is now a buzzy beverage enhancer, made famous in a trend that's nearing 60 million views on TikTok.) Intrigued, I had to give it a try. Spoiler alert: Other than a faint resemblance to a carbonated cola beverage, the flavor doesn't taste like the OG cola at all. I stick to flavored sparkling waters to avoid added sugar, but sometimes there's nothing quite like that soda taste.

If drinking real cola is your idea of refreshing, you should totally drink the cola. But if you're feeling adventurous (and thirsty), there's nothing wrong with trying homemade spins on your favorite carbonated beverages. If this trendy vinegar-spiked water isn't quenching your thirst, there are plenty more ways to amp up your at-home drink game.

Matthew Clark

Homemade Soda Recipes to Try

We collected a handful of homemade drink recipes from our Test Kitchen featuring sparkling water, vinegar, fresh fruit, and more ingredients that are without preservatives or unknown added ingredients. Get ready for some truly refreshing summer sips.

Watermelon Shrub

Ah, watermelon. It's a summertime favorite and literally packed with water, making it perfect for hydrating in the heat. Here the refreshing fruit is blended with red wine vinegar to make a shrub. The tart liquid is enjoyable sipped straight up (a shrub starter), topped with sparkling water, or mixed into a cocktail.

Related: Why the Dirty Shirley Is Decidedly the Drink of the Summer

Apple Cider Vinegar Drink

While balsamic may be "in" at the moment, drinking vinegar isn't a new thing. The acetic acid content in apple cider vinegar is said to promote gut health, curb hunger, and more. Many simply drink it diluted with water, but this tasty homemade soda adds berries, lemon, a bit of raw sugar or honey (for sweetness, but optional if you'd prefer to leave it out), and sparkling water.

Honeydew-Ginger Lime Fizz

Here's a big-batch summer drink that everyone can enjoy at your next cookout. Honeydew melon balls marinate in a simple syrup infused with ginger and lime–don't worry, there's only ¼ cup sugar total for eight servings. The rest of the pitcher is filled with pureed melon, sparkling water, and lime slices.

Sparkling Iced Mocha

Coffee might not seem like a good choice for hydration as caffeine can be mild a diuretic, but stick with us here. Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD, concocted this summer sipper with decaf coffee, unsweetened cocoa, nonfat milk, and sparkling water for a "buzzy" beverage that's better than anything you'd order at a café.

Strawberry Kombucha Crush

Since kombucha naturally carbonates as it ferments, it makes a great candidate for this homemade soda recipe. Blend strawberry-flavor kombucha with berries and serve over crushed ice for a cooling drink that's sweet, but not too sweet.

Since these soda alternatives still have a bit of sugar (even if natural), you might still be tempted to give the balsamic vinegar another try. In that case, Juliana Hale, senior culinary specialist in the Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen, is here to help. "You might try club soda with raspberry balsamic vinegar or Chinese black vinegar," she says. "I tried both of those and the Chinese black vinegar is remarkable!" Hale says it tastes like a really interesting soda, sort of like root beer or sarsparilla with some mild sweetness and good acidity. So maybe there's hope for the TikTok trend after all.

While we're on the topic of summer, keep an eye out for the in-season produce to turn into more delicious recipes.