We Made the ‘Healthy Coke’ That People Can’t Stop Talking About—Here’s What We Thought

This "healthy Coke" doesn't taste like you'd expect.

This drink is the latest in a long line of popular TikTok recipes, but it doesn’t have anything to do with actual Coca-Cola. Here’s the deal: TikTok user @mandyvjones, who claims her Pilates instructor makes the drink every day, raved about it in her video. Then others started trying the recipe. It’s made with balsamic vinegar and sparkling water—and TikTok creators claim it tastes like real Coke.

@mandyvjones @LaCroix Sparkling Water ♬ original sound – Amanda Jones

Oh come on, I had to try it! I love balsamic vinegar—I practically lick the bowl when I have a Caprese salad and balsamic vinaigrette is my dressing of choice.

Plus, as a fan of unusual, fresh-tasting cocktails—including shrubs, drinks made with vinegar, sugar and fruit—I wasn’t immediately repulsed by the idea of balsamic vinegar in a drink.

I Made the TikTok ‘Healthy Coke’ Five Ways

Drink 1: Lots of balsamic, plain LaCroix

tiktok healthy cokeGael Cooper for Taste of Home

The first TikTok-er I watched did not skimp on the balsamic vinegar, so I followed suit. I made my first drink with plain LaCroix sparkling water and a healthy amount of balsamic.

Oh my gosh. It does not taste anything like Coke. Are these TikTok fans putting us on? Are they being paid off by a balsamic vinegar company? Were they raised by hippies who substituted carob for chocolate?

Maybe it tastes like a Coke if your only experience with Coke is one completely diluted by melted ice. But probably not even then. Each sip of “healthy Coke” tastes like balsamic vinegar diluted by sparkling water. I wanted it to be weirdly refreshing, but it mostly tasted like something I shouldn’t be putting in my mouth.

Drink 2: Lots of balsamic, berry LaCroix

This also tastes nothing like a Coke. But the berry flavor gave the balsamic a bit of a fruity lift, and I could drink more of this than the first version.

Drink 3: Light balsamic, plain LaCroix

I went back and watched the original TikTok video, and noted that this creator didn’t use as much balsamic as I had seen in later videos. So I mixed a version with much less vinegar and more plain LaCroix. As you’d expect, it didn’t have as heavy a vinegar taste. I think light vinegar is the way to go when mixing these. But plain LaCroix doesn’t give it enough lift.

Drink 4: Light balsamic, berry LaCroix

tiktok healthy coke made with lacroix and balsamic vinegarGael Cooper for Taste of Home

When I took a lighter hand adding the balsamic vinegar and used the berry LaCroix, I ended up with the best drink of the night. Still tasted nothing like Coke, but the mix of tart and tangy and “what-is-that-flavor?” kept me coming back.

Drink 5: Light balsamic, grapefruit Spindrift

I’m not sure the sparkling water flavor matters that much in this recipe. Plain water tastes plain, but berry and grapefruit tasted extremely similar to me when mixed with the vinegar. Any brand seems acceptable, too.

Final Thoughts

One of the Taste of Home editors suggested this drink might make an excellent April Fools’ Day joke. When mixed, it really does look like a glass of real Coke, even down to the bubbles. So, yes, fool your kid, or your spouse, or an easygoing coworker who won’t turn you in to HR.

Tastewise, though, I felt like I was drinking salad dressing soda. Which is OK if you want to drink salad dressing soda, but you would only convince yourself this tasted like Coke if you had never had Coke before and lived in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s dugout home from Little House on the Prairie. (Remember the scene in the books where she had lemonade and cake together at a party for the first time and thought she hit the deliciousness lottery?)

Coke exists. You can buy it at the store and drink actual Coke. If you don’t want it for health reasons, water exists. You can get it out of your tap. If you like the bubbles, sparkling water also exists. You can also try the new Coke Zero. In my opinion, these are all better options than “healthy Coke.”

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Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is a pop culture junkie and the co-author of Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops and The Totally Sweet '90s. She covers TV, movies, books and pop culture, as well as food news of all kinds. Gael is a weblog pioneer who started her first blog, Pop Culture Junk Mail, in 1999.