Beyond Jack and Coke: Interesting cocktails made with soda
Mixing alcoholic beverages with soda – also called "pop" or "coke" depending on where you're from – is most commonly done with cola and either rum or whiskey. However, some bartenders get creative with their hard soft drink concoctions and go beyond the usual Jack and Coke.
Wendy Mesich pours at the Public House, 815 E. Locust St., and she makes a variety of alcoholic drinks with carbonated beverages, like the Dark and Stormy, made with Goslings rum and ginger beer.
"We love using ginger ale and ginger beer at the Public House," says Mesich.
Mesich also mixes up a Gin Buck, made with Rehorst Gin, lime and ginger ale, as well as sweet brandy old fashioneds with seltzer.
"I love simple wine coolers made with red wine and 50 / 50 (grapefruit soda) with some lemons," says Mesich.
Ginger beer is also an ingredient in the Moscow Mule, available at Von Trier, 2235 N. Farwell Ave., as well as Bryant's Lounge, 1579 S. 9th St. At both places, it's served in an ice cold copper mug.
Bryant's also makes a soda cocktail called The Dan & Dana with bourbon and ginger beer, a brandy old fashioned sweet mixed with Sprite, a Suffering Bastard, made with gin, brandy and ginger ale, a sloe gin fizz and a Tom Collins.
"I have a customer that loves when I use the liqueur Root (a root beer liqueur) with either cream or ice cream and root beer. I don't have a name for the drink. I just made it based on a description he gave me. I like IBC or Stewarts, but local favorite Sprecher would work nicely," says Evan Barnes, who tends bar at Bryant's, Nessun Dorma, 2778 N. Weil St., and Hotel Foster, 2028 E. North Ave.
Barnes creates another soda cocktail called the Paloma, made with Milagro Silver, lime juice, a pinch of salt and Jarritos Grapefruit soda. He also makes a drink at Bryant's called the Love and Happiness – and a variation of the drink at Hotel Foster – made with Hendricks Gin, St. Germain, fresh lemon juice, cucumber, seltzer and soda.
Mexican bar and restaurant Jalapeno Loco, 5067 S. Howell Ave., and Riverwest's Cafe Corazon, 3129 N. Bremen St., both offer a Calimocha, a mix of red wine and cola. Amber Barnett drinks these often and makes them at home.
"You don't need to use good wine to make these. I use Two Buck Chuck and a natural cola, like Blue Sky, and they are absolutely delicious," she says. "They're fun to make when you have people over, too. People usually like them but have never thought the two drinks would work together as well as they do."
Shannan Lynn tends bar at Il Mito, 6913 W. North Ave., and she mixes many drinks that call for a splash or more of soda.
"We always get your standbys like Jack and Coke or Captain and Coke or vodka and diet – euw – but lately I've seen a huge resurgence of the classic cocktails, some of which require soda, like mojitos and brandy old fashioned sweets," says Lynn.
According to Lynn, Three Olives vodka, because of the many flavors, mixes particularly well with soda. Her favorite is Three Olives cherry and diet cola. She also makes Three Olives grape with Coke or Sprite and Three Olives orange with 7-Up.
"Basically any flavored vodka you can mix with Sprite or club soda makes a good combo, with the exception of like tomato, pepper, espresso – the weird stuff," she says.
Shea Schachameyer pours at Great Lakes Distillery, 616 W. Virginia St., and she says one of their most popular drinks is the Mooncusser, which was invented on site. The drink is made from Roaring Dan's Rum along with Sprecher cream soda and Angostura bitters.
Roaring Dan's Rum is instilled from molasses and Wisconsin maple syrup and named after Roaring Dan Seavey, who is the only person ever charged with piracy on the Great Lakes.
"The drink is named after the pirate tactic of on dark nights along dangerous coasts, demolishing any legitimate lighthouses or beacons, erecting a decoy signal fire in a different, deliberately misleading location, and then, after having induced a shipwreck, subduing any survivors and plundering the wreckage for valuables," says Schachameyer.
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