By Joanne Thomas

Vodka is a neutral-flavored spirit and club soda is about as plain as a mixer gets, so it might seem that a drink primarily featuring the two would be a little uninspiring. To the contrary, vodka's clean smoothness along with the cool, crisp fizz of club soda – a combination almost always best over plenty of ice – is a popular standalone mixed drink. Also in vodka soda's favor – it's one of the lowest-calorie options you can order at a bar without eschewing alcohol altogether. And, with the addition of other choice ingredients, vodka and club soda are the foundation for all manner of great cocktails. Bring flavored vodkas into the mix, and your options increase immeasurably.

Cold cocktail with lime, lemon, tonic, vodka and ice
credit: Pcholik/iStock/GettyImages

Vodka, Club Soda Plus Cordials and Liqueurs

A small or large dash of a nonalcoholic cordial (flavored syrup) or alcoholic liqueur adds sweetness to vodka and club soda as well as transforming the drink's flavor. Lemon and lime syrups work well, as does limoncello liqueur. With ginger syrup, a squeeze of fresh lime, club soda and vodka you can make a lighter version of a Moscow mule, which is traditionally made with ginger beer. Try elderflower cordial or its equivalent liqueur St. Germain for a summery spritzer. The mind eraser is equal parts vodka, club soda and a coffee liqueur such as Kahlua, served over ice in a rocks glass. Mix simple syrup, club soda, fresh lime and muddled mint leaves for a bright vodka mojito. Fruity liqueurs like Campari and triple sec with their orange flavors, Crème de mûre (blackberry) and Chambord (raspberry) all make delightful additions to a vodka and soda mixed drink.

Vodka, Club Soda and Citrus

If you enjoy a cocktail with sour flavors, keep fresh lemons, limes or grapefruits on hand to squeeze into your glass along with vodka and club soda. Opting for just a splash of soda or topping up a tall glass can give you quite different drink experiences. Vodka with grapefruit juice served in a glass with a salted rim is known as a salty dog; dilute it with some club soda for a more refreshing version. Similarly, you might cut the o.j. in a screwdriver with club soda to reduce the classic mixed drink's sugar contents and calorie count. A vodka Collins (cousin to the gin-filled Tom Collins) comprises vodka, lemon juice, sugar and fresh fruit. Experiment with a few dashes of bitters in any of these mixed drinks to balance the sweet and sour flavors and add complexity.

Vodka, Club Soda and Other Fruit Juices

A Cape Cod, just vodka and cranberry juice, is even more drinkable if you make room in the glass for some club soda, which gives the drink a little fizz and cuts the tartness of the juice. The somewhat similar sea breeze cocktail – vodka with grapefruit, cranberry and lime juices – also benefits from the addition of club soda. Use the formula of vodka, whether flavored or plain, plus a few different fruit juices, club soda and fresh fruit slices, to prepare a custom punch. Try coconut vodka with pineapple and lime juices for a pina colada-inspired punch, or peach vodka with orange and pomegranate juices. This type of punch is a great option when you need big batches of drinks for a crowd.