alcoholic seltzer

Alcoholic Seltzer: My New Obsession

If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you might be wondering, “Where have all the cocktails gone?” It’s a valid question, and I have a few answers for you.

1. I started to second guess whether I was “qualified” to write about cocktails. I’m not a bartender! I’ve only taken one cocktail class in my life! I realize that those reservations are stupid. I love cocktails. I buy books about them. I make them at home. I order them at fancy (and shitty) bars. I share them with friends. And I will continue to write about them if I so well please.

2. Some days my gut is like, “Nahhh, you’re on your own.” If I want to ensure the fewest trips to the bathroom the day after a night of drinking, I stick to either Coors Light, sauvignon blanc, vodka sodas, or a little whiskey on the rocks. Boring, wonderfully mild, and terrible fodder for a blog about cocktails.

3. My job is pretty draining. With less creative energy—and less time at home—some hobbies get the shaft. Sewing has emerged as what I love to do most with my precious free time, sadly leaving cocktail experimenting in the dust.

But I’m back, baby. Not with a new cocktail, but with my latest boozy obsession. Alcoholic seltzer. Spiked sparkling water. Hard club soda. Whatever you call it, this trendy new drink is essentially La Croix—plus alcohol.

What’s to like about boozy seltzers? They’re bubbly, fruity, and refreshing. And while they may look like wine coolers, most varieties contain just a fraction of the sugar. I like to tell myself that I’m hydrating while imbibing.

Here, I’ve detailed all the alcoholic seltzers I’ve tried up to now. I “forced” a few of said seltzers on friends last weekend, and I’ll include some of their opinions throughout the rest of this post.

Is there really alcohol in this?

Yes, there really is. It comes from fermented sugar, and that’s about all I can tell you. Without further ado, the seltzers:

Truly Spiked & Sparkling

  • Introduced in 2016
  • Four Flavors: Colima Lime, Grapefruit & Pomelo, Pomegranate, Lemon & Yuzu
  • 5% ABV
  • Gluten free
  • Per 12 oz. serving:
    • 100 calories
    • 2 grams carbs
    • 1 gram sugar

Truly served as my entry point into the world of alcoholic seltzers. I bought a bottle of Colima Lime one lazy Friday happy hour at Ogilvie train station, where you can buy single cans or bottles to take on the train. Or, you can sit in the station after work, unwind, and marvel as backpack-laden grown men sprint to catch the last express train. I’m confident that a bottle of Truly Colima Lime would taste good wherever you drink it.

Lime, Grapefruit & Pomelo, and Pomegranate got high marks from everyone, while Lemon & Yuzu received mixed reviews. I personally like its weird citrusy bite, but others did not.

I feel Yuzu’d and abuzu’d.

Some people are so dramatic.

White Claw

  • Introduced in 2016
  • Four Flavors: Black Cherry, Natural Lime, Ruby Grapefruit, Raspberry
  • Gluten free
  • 5% ABV
  • Per 12 oz. serving:
    • 110 calories
    • 4 grams carbs
    • 4 grams sugar

White Claw is my overall favorite. We went through a variety pack one weekend visiting friends in Minneapolis, and we were all pleasantly surprised by our lack of hangovers.

You can drink this stuff all night!

A couple weeks later I was in Fort Wayne, IN, for a wedding. I figured White Claw would be a great option for pre-ceremony cocktail hour, but it was sold out all over town (read: one liquor store and a Target). The manager of the liquor store said it’d been so popular that White Claw couldn’t keep up with the demand, and they didn’t expect another shipment for six weeks.

I’m happy to report that production seems to be back on track. Thank god, because this stuff is delicious. I don’t remember what Raspberry tastes like, but the other flavors are on point. We had Natural Lime and Black Cherry on hand at our recent gathering.

Natural Lime, as opposed to Fake Lime?

Despite the goofy name, Natural Lime got high marks for its crisp flavor. Black Cherry, one of my personal favorites, was divisive:

This makes me nostalgic for cherry ice cream.

Mmmmm, I could go for a couple scoops of this stuff right now. But not everyone was sold.

It tastes like red medicine.

Fair enough. No one fake-cherry flavor can please everyone!

Henry’s Hard Sparkling

  • Introduced in 2017
  • Two Flavors: Passion Fruit,* Lemon Lime
  • 4.2% ABV
  • Per 12 oz. serving:
    • 92–93 calories
    • 2.6–2.9 carbs

Clocking in at under 100 calories and 4.2% alcohol, Henry’s is the lightest option in the bunch. As a MillerCoors product, it’s also the most mass-produced. You can find it at most gas stations. I couldn’t verify if this is gluten free (the others are), so Celiacs beware.

We only tried Passion Fruit (*yes, they spell it this way), but people gave Henry’s a thumbs up.

It doesn’t taste medicinal.

I think that was meant as a compliment.

Not too fruity, in a good way.

To be honest, I scribbled some other notes about Henry’s, but it was getting late and I was a little drunk and I literally cannot read the rest of what I wrote. Oops.

Spiked Seltzer

  • Introduced in 2012
  • Four Flavors: Indian River Grapefruit, West Indies Lime, Cape Cod Cranberry, Valencia Orange
  • Gluten free
  • 6% ABV
  • Per 12 oz. serving
    • 140 calories
    • 5 grams carbs
    • 5 grams sugar

When CVS didn’t have Truly, I bought a sixer of Indian River Grapefruit Spiked Seltzer. At 6% alcohol, it’s by far the most alcoholic seltzer in the group. And you can tell. My friend and I agreed that the alcohol flavor overpowers the fruit flavor. It’s drinkable, but it’s not my first choice. That said, I’ll definitely give the other flavors a try.

Thus concludes my initial foray into the world of alcoholic seltzers. I have a feeling there are many, many more to come. Have you tried any yet? Any brands I should check out?


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