A new trend on TikTok promises to reduce alcohol burn and flavor with the addition of a little baking soda and a pinch of salt. The hack claims to neutralize the clear alcohol taste, making mixed drinks more drinkable.
But can science confirm the trend? To get to the bottom of the viral hack taking the internet by storm, we spoke with a beverage scientist david arnold.
“I’m against the whole theory of why you would want to accomplish this,” says Arnold. His reasoning is that while the trick may be helpful to those who are averse to the taste of hard liquor, it also promotes overconsumption by promising to make cocktails too easy to drink.
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But when asked if there is any validity to the technique to begin with, motives aside? Arnold isn’t so sure. “Maybe it’s just that they aren’t offended by the horrible taste of baking soda,” he says. “It will give it a little soapy taste; maybe it reduces the perception of alcohol.
As for the scientific evidence supporting the trick, Arnold says there is research that shows baking soda is effective in masking the flavor of some bitter drugs. “Sodium bicarbonate, especially when allowed to remain in an alkaline diet, seems to be used by some people to mask certain flavors,” he says, adding that salt has always been used in the same way.
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Unsurprisingly, scientists haven’t yet specifically studied the effects of baking soda on alcohol, but Arnold imagines that its basic pH could also mask the bitterness of alcohol – as long as your cocktail doesn’t contain juice. lemon or lime. “The kid I watched [on TikTok] didn’t put citrus in his awful vodka soda,” he says, explaining that it would, of course, neutralize the baking soda by lowering its pH.
“If you ask me to guess,” he says, “I would say the salt is there both as a flavor enhancer and also to mutate the flavor. The baking soda is there to make it more basic, and maybe trick you into something another kind of gross. Arnold also believes that adding baking soda would alter the mouthfeel of a cocktail, making it more slippery on the tongue.
Regardless of your baking soda flavor tolerance, Arnold finally says he can’t suggest trying this stunt at home. “The best way to make sure the cocktail doesn’t burn is to just drink a better cocktail.”