(Soda Water) - In 1776, Joseph Priestly invented carbonated water when he found that water treated with carbon dioxide had a pleasant taste. The Englishman discovered a method for infusing water with carbon dioxide when he suspended a bowl of water above a beer vat at a local brewery in Leeds, England. (The air directly above fermenting beer, known as “fixed air”, is actually just carbon dioxide gas). In 1772, Priestly published a paper titled Impregnating Water with Fixed Air, in which he describes how to drip sulfuric acid onto chalk to produce carbon dioxide gas, and then how to encourage the gas to dissolve into an agitated bowl of water. By the end of the 18th century soda water was being manufactured commercially though the method of passing pressurized carbon dioxide through water, which is how it continues to be made today.
Soda water changed the way people drank. Instead of drinking spirits neat, people began to dilute their drinks with soda water. The soda water dulled the harsh effects of the alcohol, thus making it more socially acceptable to have a drink. Popping into a friend’s house for a “dash and a splash” (whiskey and soda) before going to a social event became commonplace, and having a soda siphon in one’s home became a symbol of middle-class affluence. This clip-art image of an early self-pressurized soda siphon was found through a Google search.
Whiskey and soda (specifically Jameson) happens to be my drink of choice- and there is one bar in South Philadelphia where I think I may be able to order a “dash and a splash” and have the bartender understand what I’m asking for. Next time I’m at Southwark, I’ll have to give it a try.