I Tried the Balsamic Vinegar and Seltzer “Coke” Recipe Taking Over Social Media to See What All the Fuss Was About
First, let me preface all of this by saying that I’m not normally one to jump on trends, unless it’s something super weird on TikTok and I happen to have the ingredients in my kitchen (to wit: the watermelon-yellow mustard trend of May 2021). And that, my friends, is how I found myself combining balsamic vinegar with seltzer to see if the resulting drink tasted like a Coke.
It all started earlier this month when Amanda Jones posted a video on TikTok in which she shared that her pilates teacher drinks the balsamic-seltzer combo “almost every day” and said that it was a “healthy” version of Coca-Cola. Despite my deep-seated aversion to phrases like “healthy Coke,” I was intrigued and it seemed that I wasn’t alone, based on the 6.4 million views the video received. There’s no way it could taste like Coke, right? There was only one way to find out.
How to Make Balsamic Coke
It couldn’t be easier: Fill a glass with ice. Add a splash of balsamic and top with seltzer. Amanda used guava-flavored La Croix, but she assured viewers that they could use any sparkling water they had. Give the combo a stir and drink up!
My Honest Review of Balsamic Coke
After trying this no fewer than three times (using different amounts of vinegar and different flavors of seltzer) and asking both my mother-in-law and a coworker to try it, I feel confident in saying that this resembles a Coke in looks only. The color and the bubbles give strong Coke vibes.
After that, any similarity to the soda vanishes. It doesn’t smell like Coke (it smells like vinegar and whatever seltzer flavor you’re using) and it definitely doesn’t taste like Coke (original or Diet), but I didn’t hate it.
My first attempt was using a citrusy seltzer ade, which I think was a little too full-flavored for this kind of thing. Subsequent attempts, however, using grapefruit Polar seltzer, were more successful. To me, the drink tastes kind of like a cross between a shrub and kombucha, two things that I don’t mind drinking. It’s bubbly and tart and, well, vinegary. If you don’t care for vinegar (like my husband), then this is definitely a non-starter. It’s not as if there’s some sort of chemical reaction when the two ingredients come together that magically turns the drink into a soda.
Also, if you want a Coke, please just drink a Coke — no matter what your pilates instructor says.
Other Hot Takes on the Balsamic Coke Trend
Giada: The celeb chef tried it with an eight-year balsamic vinegar of Modena that she sells and was waxing poetic about how much she liked it. She contends that it all comes down to the balsamic vinegar you use — which might have some validity — but I didn’t love my supermarket version of the drink enough to crack open the fancy stuff. Her husband, Shane Farley, was absolutely not in agreement.
Hayden Cohen: This is a cautionary tale. Just try NOT to gasp when you see him pull the bottle of balsamic vinaigrette out of the shopping bag. This went about as well as you’d think.