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From Gin-Punch to Collins – Part 2: Soda

Second view of the promenade from the baths at Pyrmont, around 1780. Titelbild.

Soda water plays an essential role in the evolution of the Gin Punch towards the Collins. So let’s deal with it first. What is soda water anyway? What are the natural sources? How and when was it produced artificially?

Soda water

First of all, a few bald facts should be mentioned. Soda water is a water enriched with carbon dioxide, which belongs to the alkaline acidulous water. It usually also contains sodium hydrogen carbonate, which makes it taste slightly like lye, i.e. soapy. Well-known natural soda waters are, for example, those from Fachingen, Karlsbad, Marienbad, Niederselters and Vichy. A natural mineral water may be called acidulous if it contains more than 250 mg/l carbon dioxide. [1] [2]

Groundwater and surface water always contain carbon dioxide, as a solution equilibrium is established with the environment. However, the amount absorbed is small. It is different with deep water. This is under pressure and can therefore absorb more carbon dioxide, if present. This can come from volcanic or other sources, for example. If such deep water is then pumped while maintaining a certain pressure, the carbon dioxide remains dissolved in it and it can be bottled as mineral water “with natural carbonic acid”. [1]

Despite the aforementioned indications, one must understand that soda water is understood to mean different things. In Germany, the following applies: “In the case of table water containing at least 570 milligrams of sodium hydrogen carbonate in one litre as well as carbon dioxide, the designation of the foodstuff ‘Tafelwasser’ may be replaced by ‘Sodawasser’.” – “Bei Tafelwasser, das mindestens 570 Milligramm Natriumhydrogencarbonat in einem Liter sowie Kohlendioxid enthält, kann die Bezeichnung des Lebensmittels ‚Tafelwasser‘ durch ‚Sodawasser‘ ersetzt werden.” This definition is in contradiction to the colloquial meaning of the term, because according to this, in Germany a soda water is normally understood to be a carbonated table water, even though this is not correct. By definition, soda water in Germany must contain sodium hydrogen carbonate, and this also distinguishes it in terms of taste. It should be noted that this definition makes sense, because sodium hydrogen carbonate is also called soda, and soda water should also contain soda. Anything else is misleading. [1] [3]

In Austria, on the other hand, “for Tafelwasser with a minimum content of 4 g/l carbon dioxide, the material designation can be ‘Sodawasser’ ” – “bei Tafelwasser mit einem Mindestgehalt von 4 g/l Kohlenstoffdioxid die Sachbezeichnung ‚Sodawasser‘ lauten.” [1]

Thus, we can never be sure whether soda water in recipes means real soda water in the sense of the German definition, or just a simple mineral water. Both differ in taste. We always recommend using a real soda water.

Sodium hydrogen carbonate, which must be contained in soda water according to German specifications, should not be confused with sodium carbonate. Sodium hydrogen carbonate has the molecular formula NaHCO3 and is a sodium salt of carbonic acid. In the trade, it is sold under the names food soda or baking soda. It is mainly used in the production of baking powder and sherbet powder. [58] Sodium carbonate, on the other hand, has the molecular formula Na2CO3, is also called washing soda and is also a salt of carbonic acid. [59]

Natural soda water springs

Various natural waters have always had the reputation of being good for health and healing. Already in Corpus Hippocraticum, a collection of ancient medical texts written between the sixth and second centuries B.C.E., they were attributed positive properties in the treatment of diseases. [55] [56-63] [56-64]

One reason for drinking spring water was certainly that it did not make people sick. Near inhabited areas, water was often contaminated and made people sick. People avoided drinking it unless they were extremely poor. [63-110] he German professor of medicine Friedrich Hoffmann wrote at the end of the 17th century that the healing power of mineral waters was limited to the bubbling waters alone. [63-111] Therefore there was a demand for soda water and it was bottled and sold early on. [63-112]

There are numerous natural springs of soda water, [1] and we will look at some of them in more detail below. This will give us an idea of the reputation they had, and how their popularity certainly inspired the development of an artificially produced soda water. We will limit ourselves to the sources located in German-speaking countries.


Second view of the promenade from the baths at Pyrmont, around 1780.
Second view of the promenade from the baths at Pyrmont, around 1780. [42]

The Romans and Germanic tribes already used these healing springs. [29] In 1556, word of the Pyrmont water finally spread when the physician Burkhard Mithoff wrote the following lines under his Latinised name Burchardus Metobius: “Firstly, this water, taken from this well, heals all wounds that do not want to suffer ointment or plaster. Also this water heals all wounds that are shot, hewn, or pricked. Whoever has sickness and pain in the eyes, and wets or washes them with this water, gets better.” He concludes with the words: “God the Lord has helped many people through this well, who come back healthy every day, and many more have gone there in the hope of getting better. May God bestow his grace and mercy on all of us who believe in Christ. Amen”.  [28]

Item zum ersten heilet diß Wasser / auß diesem Brunne genommen / alle wunden / die kein salbe oder plaster erleiden wollen. Auch heilet diß Wasser / alle wunden so geschossen gehawen oder gestochen seind. …… Item welcher mensch kranckheit und weetag an den augen hat / und netzet oder waschet sie mit diesem wasser / dem wirt besser.“ Er schließt mit den Worten „Es hat Gott der Herr durch disen Brunnen vilen Menschen geholffen / die alle tage gesundt wider komen / und noch vil dahin getzogen / inn verhoffnung besserung zu erlangen. Gott verleyhe uns allen Christgleubige sein gnadt unnd barmhertzigkeit. Amen“.

Thus, in the years 1556 and 1567, several tens of thousands of people came to the spring for healing, and these years went down in history as the “Wundergeläuf”. [28]

Johann Philipp Seip: Neue Beschreibung der Pyrmontischen Gesund-Brunnen, 1717.
Johann Philipp Seip: Neue Beschreibung der Pyrmontischen Gesund-Brunnen, 1717. [43]

In 1717 Johann Philipp Seip reported in detail on the springs in his work “New description of the Pyrmont health wells, therein the history of the Same, the true mineral content and use, both in drinking and bathing, is explained and presented in detail.” – „Neue Beschreibung der Pyrmontischen Gesund-Brunnen, Darinnen derselben Historie, wahrer mineralischer Inhalt und Gebrauch, Beydes Im Trincken und Baden umständlich erörthert und vorgestellet wird.[43]

By the beginning of the 18th century, Pyrmont had finally developed into a popular bathing and recreation resort for the upper classes and even challenged Karlsbad for its first place among European spas. Today, 18 different springs are known. [29]


Acidulous spring with avenue near Driburg, c. 1672.
Acidulous spring with avenue near Driburg, circa 1672. [41]

A spa also developed in Driburg, about 40 kilometres from Pyrmont. In 1593, carbonated healing and mineral springs were discovered, which were bordere for health use in 1665. At the beginning of the 1780s, the first bathhouse was built and the first spa operations began. The operator of the facilities, Kaspar Heinrich Freiherr von Sierstorpff, contacted doctors so that they would advertise the springs, so that eventually they had famous guests. In 1791, the „Journal des Luxus und der Moden“ (Journal of Luxury and Fashions) states that Driburg Park is a “place of tranquillity and rural pleasure” – a “Ort der Ruhe und des ländlichen Vergnügens“. [30] [31] [32]


Jacobus Theodorus Tabernaemontanus: Von dem Selterser Sawerbrunnen. 1581.
Jacobus Theodorus Tabernaemontanus: Von dem Selterser Sawerbrunnen. 1581. [33-283]

The mineral water from Selters was so important that even today the term Selterswasser, Selters, Selter or Selter water is often used as a general term for a carbonated mineral water, although this is not actually correct. Originally, it was the water from the springs in Niederselters in the Taunus region of Lower Hesse. It was an alkaline-muriatic acidulous water, i.e. a alkaline, saline mineral water with a carbonic acid content of over 250 mg/l due to the sodium hydrogen carbonate it contained. The term Selters goes back to the Romans. The bubbling, in a sense “dancing water” that rose to the surface from the depths was called “aqua saltare”; Saltare first became Saltrissa – as the springs were called in records of the Fulda monastery in 772 – and finally Selters. In 1581, Jakob Theodor Tabernaemontanus, a doctor from Worms, described the healing properties of the well water from Niederselters in his book “Neuw Wasserschatz”. As a result, the economic rise of Niederselters followed. The water became sought after and from the late 16th or 17th century it was exported in millions of stoneware jugs. In 1609 there was a new well casing that separated sweet and sour water. During the wars of the 17th century the spring seems to have been little used, but from 1678 there is evidence of foreign spa guests again. However, the spa business was insignificant in comparison to the export of water and was terminated in later times, with the aim of ensuring undisturbed bottling of the water and directing spa guests to Bad Ems and to Wiesbaden instead. In the late 17th century, a pre-industrial manufactory was set up to bottle the water. The jugs were sealed with pitch. The sale of water generated an annual profit of up to 50,000 Reichstaler in the second half of the 18th century. There is evidence of customers in Scandinavia, Russia, North America, Africa and Indonesia. In 1784, a mineral spring burst open in the neighbouring but Nassau town of Oberselters, and the amount of water in Niederselters declined. At first there were written disputes between the two principalities, and finally a small war was fought over the springs, as a result of which the spring in Oberselters was filled in. The Oberseltersers, however, reopened the spring in 1803, and disputes arose again. The spring was closed again and it was not until 1870 that mineral water was drawn from it again and marketed. In 1830, the administration of all Nassau mineral springs was consolidated in Niederselters. The sale of the water became the largest source of income for the duke’s private budget and at times generated profits of more than 100,000 gulden. The importance can also be seen in the fact that the well in Niederselters was the best-selling in Germany until 1871, before Apollinaris took over this position. In Selters an der Lahn, about 25 kilometres north of Niederselters, water was also bottled as Selterswasser from 1908. In 1999, the bottling of Selterswasser from Niederselters was discontinued. [33-283] [34] [35]


Hans Folz: Dises puchlein saget uns von allen paden die vō natur heisz sein. Nürnberg, 1480.
Hans Folz: Dises puchlein saget uns von allen paden die vō natur heisz sein. Nürnberg, 1480. [39]

The first mention of the thermal springs of Ems dates back to 1352. They already had a supra-regional reputation in the late Middle Ages and were visited by important personalities, archbishops and sovereigns. Ems is already mentioned in the first printed German-language book about bathing, published in 1480 and written by Hans Folz. [37]

Matthäus Merian - Embser Bad. 1655.
Matthäus Merian – Embser Bad. 1655. [40]

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Ems was one of the most famous bathing resorts in Germany and experienced its heyday in the 19th century, when numerous monarchs and artists from a wide range of countries went there. Examples include Kaiser Wilhelm I, Tsar Alexander II, Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, Richard Wagner, Jacques Offenbach, Kaiser Friedrich II, Oskar II of Sweden and Norway, Victor Hugo, Bettina von Arnim, King Ludwig I of Bavaria and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The “Ems Dispatch” of 13 July 1870 is regarded as the trigger for the Franco-Prussian War, which led to the founding of the German Empire. The Ems springs are predominantly sodium hydrogen carbonate thermal acidulous springs containing fluoride, with water temperatures of up to 57 °C. The healing water is not only used for bathing and drinking cures, but also for the production of Ems pastilles and Ems salt. [36] [37] [38]


Abbildung des sehr heise warmbads von Kaiser Karolo quarto No 1509 erfunden wie es anitzo No 1652 mit absonderlichen Badstüblein erbauet.
Abbildung des sehr heise warmbads von Kaiser Karolo quarto No 1509 erfunden wie es anitzo No 1652 mit absonderlichen Badstüblein erbauet. [44]

Karlovy Vary, also known as Karlsbad, is the last to be briefly described due to its supra-regional importance. The healing properties of the thermal springs in Karlovy Vary were known as early as the 14th century. At first they were used for bathing, but from the 16th century they were also used for drinking cures. The first written treatise on the healing power of the springs was published in 1522. Tsar Peter the Great visited Karlovy Vary in 1711 and 1712, thus promoting the spa. A significant boom was also experienced in the middle of the 19th century; Karlovy Vary became a spa resort with a world-wide reputation. While in 1756 only 134 families came to the spa, by the end of the 19th century there were already 26,000, and in 1911 almost 71,000. Meyers Konversationslexikon wrote in 1898: “People drink 3-6 cups in the morning and use mineral water and steam baths as well as mud baths, for which the mud is taken from the Franzensbad mud deposit, with great success. The spring products of Karlsbad are also important, namely the bubble salt, which is obtained by evaporation of the bubble spring …. The annual shipment of Karlovy Vary mineral water amounted to over 1 million bottles and jugs, and of sparkling salt and sparkling soap over 23,000 kg.”  – “Man trinkt des Morgens 3-6 Becher und gebraucht sowohl Mineralwasser- und Dampfbäder als auch mit vielem Erfolg Moorbäder, zu denen die Schlammerde dem Franzensbader Moorlager entnommen wird. Von Wichtigkeit sind auch die Quellenprodukte von Karlsbad und zwar das Sprudelsalz, welches durch Abdampfung der Sprudelquelle … gewonnen wird. … Die jährliche Versendung an Karlsbader Mineralwasser betrug über 1 Mill. Flaschen und Krüge, an Sprudelsalz und Sprudelseife über 23.000 kg.” Karlovy Vary has a total of twelve springs. The most famous is 72 °C hot, shoots up 14 metres and delivers 2000 litres of water per minute. There are 89 known springs of thermal water, 19 of which are approved as medicinal waters. They are hypotonic, strongly mineralised mineral waters of the Na-HCO3SO4Cl type, i.e. they are alkaline and contain Glauber’s salts. The healing springs are used for many things: Disorders of the digestive system, metabolic disorders, diabetes mellitus, gout, obesity, periodontal disease, musculoskeletal disorders, liver, gallbladder, bile duct and pancreatic diseases and oncological conditions. The laxative effect of the medicinal water is due to the Glauber’s salt. This effect is desirable, but sensitive persons such as children and pregnant women should drink the healing water only to a limited extent. [45]

People drank soda water not only directly at the source, but also in distant places, to which the water was exported. For example, one could also take a cure in Vienna, as we are told from the year 1783: “In a magnificent pavilion one has all the refreshments and billiards. If you want to see this place in its splendor, you have to visit it in the morning during the highest summer months. It has been the custom here in the grand world for some years now to drink a cure of mineral water in the Augarten, no matter how healthy you are. Imagination has really introduced in this place the sociability and confidentiality that usually prevails at the famous fountains of health, and here one really enjoys the open and free society that has made Spaa, Pyrmont and other places of this kind famous, even if the necessary spa water has to be procured from more than 100 miles away. All classes, especially the scholars and the nobility mingle here. The ladies drink the cure to be able to show themselves in negligees, and the gentlemen, because the ladies in negligees are not so proud and brittle as in big finery.[60-387] [60-388]

Johann Kaspar Riesbeck: Briefe eines reisenden Franzosen. Erster Band. 1783, page 387-388.
Johann Kaspar Riesbeck: Briefe eines reisenden Franzosen. Erster Band. 1783, page 387-388. [60-387] [60-388]

– “In einem prächtigen Pavillon hat man alle Erfrischungen und Billard. Wenn man diesen Ort in seinem Glanz sehn will, muß man ihn in den höchsten Sommermonathen morgens besuchen. Es ist seit einigen Jahren hier in der grossen Welt Sitte, daß man im Augarten eine Kur von mineralischem Wasser trinkt, wenn man auch noch so gesund ist. Die Einbildung hat wirklich an diesem Ort die Geselligkeit und Vertraulichkeit eingeführt, die sonst an den berühmten Gesundbrunnen zu herschen pflegt, und man geniest hier wirklich das Offene und Freye der Gesellschaft, wodurch sich Spaa, Pyrmont und andre Plätze dieser Art berühmt gemacht haben, ob man schon das nöthige Kurwasser von mehr als 100 Meilen her beschreiben muß. Alle Stände, besonders die Gelehrten und der Adel mischen sich hier durch einander. Die Damen trinken die Kur um sich im Neglische zeigen zu können, und die Herrn, weil die Damen im Negische nicht so stolz und spröde als im grossen Putz sind.[60-387] [60-388]

Miracle belief

As we can see, it seems that the belief in the healing power of springs also played a role in their popularity. But let’s not fool ourselves: not only the Middle Ages were full of this belief in miracles, it is still the case today. Many swear by the effect of something, although this lacks any scientific basis. So we should not be surprised by the erroneous beliefs of the Middle Ages, nor should we claim that we are culturally and intellectually superior today. Incidentally, there are also reports by enlightened people that show us that throughout the ages there were also weighing opinions. It was the same then as now, and the believers in miracles are often just given preferential hearing. Let us therefore take Michel de Montaigne as an example of the opposite position. In the 1580s, he wrote down his views on healing springs:

Michel de Montaigne, circa 1608.
Michel de Montaigne, circa 1608. [7]

In my travels I have seen almost all the famous bathing places of Christendom, and a few years ago I also began to use them. I consider bathing to be consistently beneficial and believe that we are exposing our health to not inconsiderable risks since we have abandoned the custom, followed by almost all peoples in times past (and by many still today), of washing our entire bodies every day; for I can hardly imagine that it is not highly detrimental to us to let the dirt encrust our limbs and clog our pores. As far as drinking the healing waters is concerned, it has fortunately turned out that, firstly, their taste is in no way repugnant to me and, secondly, they are natural, simple and, even if they are of no use to us, at least harmless; the sheer number of people of every kind and constitution who gather in the baths speaks for this. Certainly, I have not yet been able to observe any extraordinary and supernatural effects of the waters, but whenever I have investigated the rumours about miracle cures (as they are spread and believed in such places, since people like to be deceived by their wishes) a little more thoroughly than usual, I have finally had to conclude that they were all made up out of thin air and false. But I also hardly met any spa guests whose ailments had been aggravated by the healing waters. In all honesty, one cannot deny that they stimulate the appetite, promote digestion and make one lively again – unless one starts the cure already too enfeebled, which I strongly advise against. They are not able to restore health that has already been severely affected, but they can support a slightly impaired health or counteract the threat of a worsening of an ailment. Those who are not open-minded enough to enjoy the pleasant company that gathers there and the walks and other activities to which the beauty of the landscape invites, in which the bathing resorts are mostly located, will undoubtedly miss out on the most pleasurable and effective part of the cure. For this reason, I have always chosen for my stay and use those which were most attractive and offered me the best accommodation, food and company, such as the baths of Bagnères in France, then those of Plombières on the border between Lorraine and Germany, those of Baden in Switzerland, those of Lucca in Tuscany and especially the Della Villa there, where I stay most often and at different times of the year for my cure. Each country has its own conception of the correct use of the waters and makes use of them according to completely different rules and methods – in my experience with almost equal success. In Germany, it is completely unusual to drink them; rather, to cure all illnesses, one bathes in them and frolics in them almost from sunrise to sunset. In Italy, when you have drunk the water for nine days, you bathe in it for at least thirty; and when you drink it, they add medicinal substances to it to increase its effect. Here in France, we are told to walk around while drinking, so that the body can process the water better, whereas there one should drink it in bed and stay in it until one has excreted it again, while one’s stomach and feet are constantly warmed. While the Germans have the peculiarity of being cupped in the bath with suction cups and through incisions in the skin, the Italians have that of the docce: a kind of shower, which they feed with hot water through pipes and under which they have their head, stomach or another diseased part of the body sprinkled for one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon for a month. Thus there is a myriad of wide-ranging differences in custom from region to region – or rather, almost no two customs are alike. You see, then, how even this branch of medicine (as the only one I have ever entered into), notwithstanding the fact that it is the least unnatural, exhibits much of the uncertainty and confusion which are everywhere observable in the medical art.[48-385] [48-386]

Artificial soda water

However, there is not only natural soda water, but also artificial, industrially produced soda water. So let’s take a closer look at the history of the development of this production process.

In the light of the above, it is not surprising that in the 18th and 19th centuries scientists experimented with mineral waters in order to understand their healing properties and to be able to produce such waters artificially. [56-64] By 1800, carbonated water was a panacea for general health and used for a whole range of diseases, including rheumatism and indigestion. [56-69]

Joseph Black

Joseph Black.
Joseph Black. [52]

Joseph Black was the son of an Irish-born wine merchant who lived in Scotland and later in Bordeaux. Joseph was born in Bordeaux in 1728 and died in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1799. He was a physicist and chemist and is considered the discoverer of carbon dioxide, the properties of which he studied thoroughly. In 1754, he discovered that when calcium carbonate solutions are mixed with an acid, a gas is released which he called “fixed air”. This gas was later given the name carbon dioxide. [53] [54] [56-64]

William Brownrigg

William Brownrigg.
William Brownrigg. [16]

William Brownrigg, born in 1712 and died in 1800, was a British doctor and scientist, and in 1740 probably the first to add carbon dioxide to water. However, this was not known to many, as he withheld his paper and did not publish his invention. [4] [5] [6-124] [6-125] [6-126]

However, in 1765, with his publication “An Experimental Enquiry into the Mineral Elastic Spirit of Air, contained in Spa Water“, he showed the Royal Society that he had proved by experiment that the gas dissolved in the water from the Belgian town of Spa was the carbon dioxide described by Joseph Black. [51-218] [56-65] [67-64]

Gabriel-François Venel

Gabriel François Venel (1773).
Gabriel François Venel (1773). [17]

He was followed by Gabriel-François Venel. He was a French physician, pharmacist, chemist and encyclopaedist who wrote 673 articles for the Enzyclopédie edited by Denis Diderot and Jean Baptiste le Rond d’Alambert. He was also inspector general for mineral water assessment and analysed many mineral waters in France together with the French pharmacist Pierre Bayen. Gabriel-François Venel carbonated water by mixing soda (sodium carbonate) and hydrochloric acid in water in a closed bottle. The combination of acid and carbonate produces carbon dioxide. This is how he described it in 1750. [6-78] [6-79] [7-41] [8]

Joseph Priestley

Joseph Priestley.
Joseph Priestley. [18]

Independently of this, and probably by chance, Joseph Priestley also succeeded in carbonating water in 1767. He discovered a method of carbonating water after hanging a bowl of water over a beer vat in a brewery in Leeds, England. He wrote about it that he felt a special satisfaction when drinking this water. In 1772 his treatise „Directions for impregnating water with fixed air; in order to communicate to it the peculiar spirit and virtues of Pyrmont water, and other mineral waters of a similar nature“ was published. In it, he described his process and suggested using pressure to more effectively get more bubbles into the water. Joseph Priestley succeeded in making soda water by producing carbon dioxide in a glass bottle with sulphuric acid and a solution containing lime, passing this through a leather hose into an upturned glass of water in the water, which made the water bubble. Joseph Priestley received the Copley Medal in 1772 for his invention of soda water. This medal is awarded by the British Royal Society to honour scientists of all disciplines. It is the oldest and most highly endowed of the awards regularly presented by the Royal Society and has been awarded since 1731. Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Léon Foucault also received this award. [1] [4] [7-41] [7-42] [9] [26] [50] [54] [56-68] [56-69]

Joseph Priestley: Apparatus for the production of sparkling water.
Joseph Priestley: Apparatus for the production of sparkling water. [50]

The opinion arose that carbonated water also helped against scurvy. So David MacBride convinced the British Admiralty that fresh sea water should be distilled on the voyage and then carbonised with Joseph Priestley’s apparatus. Two ships were fitted with it, including HMS Discovery, which James Cook took on his second voyage to the Pacific. The apparatus was used, but the sparkling water it produced had no effect against scurvy. However, this could have been seen before, because James Lind had already shown in 1753 that the consumption of citrus fruits helps against scurvy, but it was not until 1795 that the British navy had lemon juice distributed. [49] [56-69] However, W. Hughes had already established in 1672 that lime and lemon juice helped against scurvy. [47-49]

Thomas Henry

Thomas Henry.
Thomas Henry. [19]

Joseph Priestley’s apparatus was soon expanded and supplemented, because it could not yet be used on a large scale. Production of carbonated water on a larger scale did not begin until 1781, when companies were founded that specialised in it. The first factory was built by Thomas Henry from Manchester, England. However, some sources say that Thomas Henry had already produced and sold “artificial Pyrmont and Selters water” in the 1770s. [4] [7-42] [10] [11]

At that time, the preservation of food and drinking water was a major problem and of great importance, and so Thomas Henry devoted himself to the question of how this could be improved. In the process, he also experimented with carbon dioxide. [7-42] [11]

For the military navy, the conservation of drinking water was particularly important. It had to ensure that sufficient fresh water was available even on long sea voyages. One possibility was to preserve the drinking water with lime and then make it drinkable again with magnesia, but this was not practical. In 1781, Thomas Henry, in his paper “Account of a Method of Preserving Water, at Sea, from Putrefaction by means of quicklime“, proposed to the Admiralty a new method of preserving water at sea from putrefaction. He wanted sulphuric acid to react with limestone or chalk, i.e. with calcium carbonate, and to pass the resulting carbonic acid through the lime water so that the lime it contained precipitated as carbonate. This should restore the taste of the water. However, he also recommended making artificial mineral water in large quantities for sick people on board ships or in hospitals. This was difficult to do with the well-known apparatus of John Merwyn Nooth (1775), Parker (described by Priestley, 1777) and Magellan (1777), as they were only suitable for household quantities. Thomas Henry therefore tried to change this by new processes so that large quantities could be produced. Furthermore, he also published recipes for imitations of the natural healing waters from Pyrmont and Selters. [7-42] [11]

Johann Jacob Schweppe

Johann Jacob Schweppe (1783).
Johann Jacob Schweppe (1783). [20]

Then Johann Jacob Schweppe appeared. In 1780, he developed a process for adding carbonic acid to water. This was patented in 1783, initially for medical purposes. Together with the mechanic Nicolas Paul and the pharmacist Henri-Albert Gosse, he founded a factory for the production of soda water in Geneva in 1790. They artificially produced various waters, including imitations of Seltzer and Pyrmont water. They expanded and a branch was added in London, in Drury Lane, in 1792. But competition in London was fierce and there was political unrest. As a result, his two business partners left the London business in 1796. Johann Jacob Schweppe also sold three quarters of his shares and returned to Geneva, where he died in 1821. The company in London retained the Schweppe name. [7-43] [12] [13] [14] [56-70] [56-71]

Further progress

Alexandria Daily Gazette, 2 April 1812, page 3. Advertisement for Soda Water.
Alexandria Daily Gazette, 2 April 1812, page 3. Advertisement for Soda Water. [15]

Soda water was, after all, ubiquitous. For example, we found an advertisement from 1812 according to which soda water was also produced in Baltimore, in the United States. [15] So one was not dependent on imports, but could produce it oneself practically everywhere.

Adlard Welby: A visit to North America, 1821, page 31.
Adlard Welby: A visit to North America, 1821, page 31.


In an 1819 travelogue, Adlard Welby wrote of Philadelphia: “During the hot season, mineral waters, (chiefly soda,) sometimes mixed with syrups, are drank in great abundance; — the first thing every American who can afford five cents (about threepence) takes, on rising in the morning, is a glass of soda water: many houses are open for the sale of it, and some of them are fitted up with Parisian elegance.[62-31]

The purchasing power of one dollar in 1821 is equivalent to $26.27 in 2022. So five cents at that time would be about $1.31 today. [61]

The siphon bottle

Soda siphon, around 1930.
Soda siphon, around 1930. [24]

If one wanted to use soda water at the bar, this was often done with a siphon bottle. There were several stages in the development of the siphon bottle. In 1825 Charles Plinth patented his “Regency Portable Fountain“, which already indicated the modern siphon. [26] [27] In 1826, soda water was produced by the Hungarian Benedictine priest Ányos István Jedlik, and he is also said to have invented a siphon bottle. [1] [23] In 1829, the Frenchmen Deleuze and Dutillet patented their “siphon champenois“, in which a kind of hollow screwdriver was inserted into the cork of the bottle. [22] [25] [26] [27] The Polytechnische Journal of 1831 refers to the “siphon champenois” as the “Lufthäuschen“, the “little air house.” [46-145] Finally, the modern siphon corresponds to the “vase siphoide” patented by Antoine Perpigna in 1837. [27]

Die Verwendung von Sodawasser

John Timbs: Hints for the table. London, 1838. Page 77.
John Timbs: Hints for the table. London, 1838. Page 77. [21-77]

In 1838, eight years before the Garrick Club Punch was described, an interesting publication appeared: “Ice is nearly as expensive in England as in much warmer climates: in mild seasons, it has even been imported into this country by shiploads. In New York, carts of ice are driven for sale, in small quantities, all over the city. Iced soda-water, from the fountain, is in almost universal use; and is sold in almost every street; it is deliciously prepared, and frequently flavoured with lemon syrup; the price, three-pence for a tumbler.” [21-77]

Unfortunately, this footnote is somewhat unclear. At first one thinks that the soda water flavoured with lemon syrup is offered everywhere in New York – but then a price in pence is mentioned. So are they talking about London?

This is an extremely interesting reference, because it shows that at the beginning of the 19th century, a soda water and lemon syrup lemonade was on offer.

Anonymus: Hints for the Table. London, 1838. Page 115.
Anonymus: Hints for the Table. London, 1838. Page 115. [21-115]

The same publication further states: “Soda-water is the simplest stimulating liquid. To permanently weak stomachs it is generally unwholesome. It is always unwholesome during a meal, but is an excellent beverage at some interval afterwards. – Mayo. Soda-water rarely contains any soda; it is being merely common water charged with fixed air: it is often drank to neutralize acid in the stomach, in which case fifteen or twenty grains of carbonate of soda, finely powdered, should be put into a large glass, and a bottle of soda-water poured on it. Dr. Graham, however, observes, that the practice of taking carbonate of soda and soda-water freely, is a very injurious one. … Seltzer-water, when fresh, has a brisk, slightly acid taste, and makes a refreshing drink with Rhenish wine and powdered loaf sugar; in this state it is, probably, the most wholesome beverage in warm weather. But the best recommendation of Seltzer-water, is the plain fact that the inhabitants of Nieder-Selters, (where it is obtained), who have drank it all their lives, are by many degrees the healthiest and ruddiest looking peasants in the Duchy of Nassau. For acidity in the stomach, and heartburn, Seidlitz-water is much recommendet.” [21-115]

Soda Water and Ice. The Alexandria Herald, 19. May 1823, page 3.
Soda Water and Ice. The Alexandria Herald, 19. May 1823, page 3. [57]

Soda water with ice was also offered early on, as an American advertisement from 1823 shows. [57]

We have now looked in detail at soda water, an ingredient that went into the Gin Punch served at the Garrick Club, which eventually evolved further into the Collins. Both could just as easily be thought of as gin-infused lemonade. So it is appropriate to deal with the latter in the next post.

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  2. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mineralwasser: Mineralwasser.
  3. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natriumhydrogencarbonat: Natriumhydrogencarbonat.
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbonated_water: Carbonated water.
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Brownrigg: William Brownrigg.
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  7. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Montaigne-de_Leu.jpg Portrait de Montaigne par Thomas de Leu ornant l’édition des Essais de 1608.
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  9. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Priestley: Joseph Priestley.
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  15. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84024013/1812-04-02/ed-1/seq-3/#date1=1789&sort=date&rows=20&words=SODA+WATERS&searchType=basic&sequence=0&index=1&state=&date2=1963&proxtext=%22soda+water%22&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1: Alexandria Daily Gazette. 2. April 1812, page 3.
  16. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Portrait_of_biographer_William_Brownrigg_Wellcome_L0000279.jpg: Portrait of biographer William Brownrigg.
  17. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gabriel_Fran%C3%A7ois_Venel.jpg: Gabriel François Venel. Französischer Arzt, Chemiker und Enzyklopädist.
  18. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Joseph_Priestley.jpeg: Joseph Priestley, 1801.
  19. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thomas_Henry_(1734-1816).jpg Thomas Henry, vor 1816.
  20. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1783_Johann_Jacob_Schweppe.jpg Johann Jacob Schweppe, 1783.
  21. https://archive.org/details/b21526102/page/77: Anonymus: Hints for the Table. London, Simkin, Marshall, and Co., 1838.
  22. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siphonflasche: Siphonflasche.
  23. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81nyos_Jedlik: Ányos Jedlik.
  24. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sparklets_New_York_Soda_Siphon_1930.jpg: An original soda siphon made by the Sparklets New York Corporation at 305 46th St, NY around 1930.
  25. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soda_syphon: Soda syphon.
  26. https://mixology.eu/soda-siphon-bar/: Soda Siphons: Sieben spritzige Fakten. Von Stefan Adrian, 28. September 2019.
  27. https://theodora.com/encyclopedia/s2/siphon.html: Siphon.
  28. https://www.pyrmonter-fuerstentreff.de/Historie/Wundergelaeuf.htm Wundergeläuf.
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  30. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_Driburg Bad Driburg.
  31. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaspar_Heinrich_von_Sierstorpff Kaspar Heinrich von Sierstorpff.
  32. https://www.graeflicher-park.de/ueber-uns/ Gräflicher Park Health & Balance Resort. Wir über uns.
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  36. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emser_Depesche Emser Depeche.
  37. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_Ems#Heilquellen Bad Ems: Heilquellen.
  38. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emser_Salz Emser Salz.
  39. https://archive.org/details/bub_gb_SM43AQAAMAAJ/page/n9/mode/2up Hans Folz: Dises puchlein saget uns von allen paden die vō natur heisz sein. 1480. Faksimile von 1896.
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  42. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Bad_Pyrmont_Zweyte_Ansicht_der_Promenade.jpg und https://www.monumente-online.de/wAssets/img/ausgaben/2018/3/historische-kulturparks/Bad_Pyrmont__Promenade.jpg Bad Pyrmont, Zweyte Ansicht der Promenade vom Baad zu Pyrmont, um 1780.
  43. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Johann_Philipp_Seip_-_Neue_Beschreibung_der_Pyrmontischen_Gesund-Brunnen_(1717).jpg und http://www.deutschestextarchiv.de/book/view/seip_gesundbrunnen_1717?p=5 Johann Philipp Seip: Neue Beschreibung der Pyrmontischen Gesund-Brunnen. Hannover 1717.
  44. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KB1883_pg071_KAYSER_CARLS-BAAD,_opt.jpg
    Image extracted from page 71 of Geschichte der königlichen Stadt Karlsbad, …, by PROEKL, Vincenz.
  45. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karlsbad Karlsbad.
  46. https://books.google.de/books?id=mgUAAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA145&lpg=PA145&dq=%22siphon+champenois%E2%80%9C&source=bl&ots=kibGI7-DSj&sig=ACfU3U3cLB80qygyOeai4MEy7hQlxxzd3g&hl=de&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj-tZakqpDoAhWmURUIHUxFB3gQ6AEwDnoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22siphon%20champenois%E2%80%9C&f=false Johann Gottfried Dingler & Emil Maximilian Dingler (Hrsg.): Polytechnisches Journal. 42. Band. Stuttgart, 1831.
  47. https://books.google.de/books?id=syhVAAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22The+American+Physician%22&hl=de&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj7j4qjvd7rAhVM_aQKHXDqBwEQ6AEwAHoECAMQAg#v=snippet&q=punch&f=false W. Hughes: The American physitian; or, a treatise of the roots, plants, trees, shrubs, fruit, herb &c. Growing in the English plantations in America. Describing the place, time, names, kindes, temperature, vertues and uses of them, either for diet, physick, &c. Whereunto is added a discourse on the cacao-nut-tree, and the use of this fruit; with all the ways of making of chocolate. London, 1672.
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  50. https://archive.org/details/b30364978/page/n2/mode/2up Joseph Priestley: Directions for impregnating water with fixed air; in order to communicate to it the peculiar spirit and virtues of Pyrmont water, and other mineral waters of a similar nature. London, 1772.
  51. https://archive.org/details/jstor-105462/page/n1/mode/2up William Brownrigg: An Experimental Enquiry into the Mineral Elastic Spirit, or Air, Contained in Spa Water; As Well as into the Mephitic Qualities of This Spirit.
  52. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Joseph_Black_b1728.jpg Joseph Black (1728 – 1799), published by Blackie & Son. before 1800.
  53. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Black Joseph Black.
  54. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohlenstoffdioxid Kohlenstoffdioxid.
  55. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpus_Hippocraticum Corpus Hippocraticum.
  56. Kim Walker & Mark Nesbitt: Just the Tonic. A Natural History of Tonic Water. ISBN 978 1 84246 689 6. Kew, Royal Botanical Gardens, 2019.
  57. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84024513/1823-05-19/ed-1/seq-3/#date1=1808&sort=date&rows=20&words=ginning+Water&searchType=basic&sequence=0&index=15&state=&date2=1840&proxtext=%22gin+and+water%22&y=14&x=7&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1 The Alexandria Herald. 19. Mai 1823, Seite 3.
  58. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natriumcarbonat Natriumcarbonat.
  59. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natriumhydrogencarbonat Natriumhydrogencarbonat.
  60. https://archive.org/details/briefeeinesreis00collgoog/ Johann Kaspar Riesbeck: Briefe eines reisenden Franzosen über Deutschland an seinen Bruder zu Paris. Erster Band. 1783.
  61. https://www.in2013dollars.com/us/inflation/1821?amount=1 Value of $1 from 1821 to 2022.
  62. https://archive.org/details/visittonorthamer00welb/page/n47/mode/2up?q=soda Adlard Welby: A visit to North America and the English settlements in Illinois, with a winter residence at Philadelphia; solely to ascertain the actual prospects of the emigrating agriculturist, mechanic, and commercial speculator. London, 1821.
  63. Camper English: Doctors and Distillers. The Remarkable Medicinal History of Beer, Wine, Spirits, and Cocktails. ISBN 9780143134923. 2022.

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Hi, I'm Armin and in my spare time I want to promote bar culture as a blogger, freelance journalist and Bildungstrinker (you want to know what the latter is? Then check out "About us"). My focus is on researching the history of mixed drinks. If I have ever left out a source you know of, and you think it should be considered, I look forward to hearing about it from you to learn something new. English is not my first language, but I hope that the translated texts are easy to understand. If there is any incomprehensibility, please let me know so that I can improve it.

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