Spiked seltzer. A seemingly harmonious marriage of effervescent, playfully flavored, alcohol has descended upon our thirsty nation. Towering pyramids of Whiteclaw and Truly line our once colorless gas stations, convenient and liquor store isles with eye catching boxes of the bubbly, fruity drink. Some might consider this sparkling phenomenon a flash in the pan, that this slim can explosion can’t go on forever, but it seems it’s here to stay. As a respectable drinker, I fought hard the urge to fall victim to what I once thought was a basic drink. The temptation was strong. I have fallen. I have drank the “black cherry Kool-aide.”
Spiked seltzer sales are blowing up across the country, causing shortages and hashtags and phrases like “ain’t no laws when you’re drinking Claws.” No place is off limits to its reach. Pools, sporting events, local watering holes and house parties all are getting in on the action. Shopping carts runneth over with different brands and flavors, so what’s happening?
In July 2019 the spiked seltzer category was already pulling in an astounding $550 million dollars. Business Insider projects it could be a 2.5 billion dollar category by 2021. Whiteclaw, brought to you by the same folks that make Mike’s Hard Lemonade, is leading market share with over 50% of sales.
Perhaps the rising success of hard seltzer is piggybacking on the enormous success of La Croix and other non-alcoholic seltzer waters, or surely they helped pave the way doing over 3 billion dollars in sales in 2018. It certainly doesn’t hurt that people are becoming increasingly more uncomfortable with carbohydrates. The Keto diet leading the way in thinking low-carb meal and drink alternatives. Most of these hard seltzers ring in at a low 2 or even 1 gram of carbs per can. Another big win, is that in some states, liquor can not be sold in many of the same places as wine and beer. Therefore because they are a malted beverage, generally with the same percentage by volume of alcohol as a beer (4-5%) they can be distributed in more outlets like gas stations and grocery stores. This provides non beer and wine drinkers another drinking option that’s easily accessible in more place. Whatever the reason for their popularity, it’s becoming clear that the hard seltzer is here to stay.
Whiteclaw may currently be leading the pack with 50% of the market share, but don’t fret there are plenty of other brands making a splash on the scene and fighting for market share. As an avid La Croix and soda water lover, I would like to weigh in on the battle of the hard seltzer brands.
Brands I’ve tried by the pool, at parties, on the boat or in shame hiding my house so that nobody can see that I’ve jumped on the bandwagon:
- Bon & Viv
- Wild Basin
- Natural Light Seltzer
These seem to be the easiest to find brands and in most grocery, convenient and liquor stores in my area. I will most likely be adding to this list over time as the segment continues to grow and I continue to drink.
The clear winner for me is Wild Basin! The variety pack boasts 4 deliciously crafted flavors: Lime (think key lime pie), Lemon Agave Hibiscus, Melon Basil, and Cucumber Peach. At 100 calories and only 1 gram of carbs, the thing I like best about Wild Basin is that I don’t get that fake aspartame, artificial flavor. In fact they taste the most similar to La Croix in terms of style and use flavor combinations instead of just one flavor.
With all the hype of hard seltzer, marinate on this for a moment. A shot of 80 proof vodka has approximately 96 calories and no carbs. A 4oz glass of brut champagne has about 86 calories and under 2 grams of carbs and most dry red and white wine has an average of 126 calories and 4 grams of carbs. For more nutritional info check out Wine Folly.