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While soda sales have tanked in the past decade, a new crop of “anti-soda” beverages has seemingly exploded onto the scene overnight. These fizzy drinks tout natural ingredients and sweeteners, plus they’re infused with everything from CBD and adaptogens to real fruit and plant botanicals -- and I, for one, am living for this new wave of canned bubbles.
If you're contemplating a move away from soda, you may have noticed that today’s carbonated beverage market takes many shapes: sparkling water, seltzers, and tonics, oh my! The best part of the anti-soda revolution is that whether you have a known favorite or are ready to sample the lot, you now have access to each variety right at your doorstep. Every brand included in this list will deliver its fizzy goodness straight to your home, which means no masking, no driving, and most of all no lifting required to enjoy a nice cold can.
What’s The Deal?
Founded on humor and next-level intensity, Liquid Death has built a cult following (like, multiple-fans-have-gotten-Liquid-Death-tattoos cult following) for their canned sparkling mountain water through genius, energy-drink-and-beer-inspired branding. While holding a tall boy of Liquid Death, sober individuals are empowered to make healthier decisions free of the self-consciousness that sometimes accompanies not holding an alcoholic drink at a concert or bar.
Liquid Death’s branding is over the top, but their sparkling water is… well, water. Sourced from the Austrian Alps, the water is crisp and simple. Let’s be honest, though: if you’re buying Liquid Death, it’s likely for the branding, and it’s totally worth $1.33 per can.
Price Check: $15.99 for a single 12-pack
What's The Deal?
Created in opposition to the fantasy lifestyle many beverage companies attempt to sell, Ugly Drinks has stripped down their branding in order to “get real” and “get ugly.” Free of sugar, artificial sweeteners, and calories, Ugly Drinks sells Plain, Flavored (sparkling), and Energy water in a multitude of bright and exciting flavors. The best part is that they drop limited-edition flavors like marshmallow and orange soda sourced by their “Ugly Mob” each month.
I first sampled several Ugly Drinks flavors (like Pina Colada, Peach, Cherry, and Lemon Lime) earlier this summer, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the brand since. Something about their flavor and fizz combination just works -- each sip begins with a bold-yet-natural punch of flavor and ends with an insanely smooth finish. Ugly Drinks is my favorite for everyday drinking: running errands, after a walk, or working, I finish several per day.
Price Check: $19.99 per 12-pack, or subscribe and pay $17.99 each month
What’s The Deal?
Founder Sandro Roco launched Sanzo, the “first Asian-inspired sparkling water” as a nod to his Filipino roots in 2019. Sanzo’s seltzers contain only carbonated water and real fruit puree in their Calamansi (“golden lime”), Lychee ( fruity, floral berry), and Alphanso mango (“king of mangoes”) flavors. Each can of Sanzo contains between 0 and 20 calories and has no added sugar, despite its sweet taste.
One of the coolest parts of sampling Sanzo is actually ordering it. The brand takes mobile orders through DTC platform Iris Nova, so when you first input your information online, you’re able to text the brand for any future communication like tracking your shipment or re-ordering.
While the flavors of many popular seltzer brands taste like artificial shadings of their intended fruits, Sanzo’s cans contain depth. Each flavor tastes like it was made by a mixologist who hand-crushed a vibrant and juicy fruit, then mixed it with a pure batch of bubbles. Sanzo’s Calamansi flavor is a standout of this roundup -- it has a fresh-squeezed, tangy zest that is far superior to artificial flavoring.
Price Check: $34.99 per 12-pack, or subscribe and pay $29.99 per pack
What's The Deal?
An “antidote to modern times,” Recess is the aesthetic brand of CBD-infused sparkling water you’ve likely seen online. Recess incorporates several of the buzziest food-and-drink trends (like CBD and adaptogens) into its formula of hemp, American ginseng, L-theanine, and lemon balm. The result is a sparkling beverage aimed to keep you feeling “on” throughout your day.
Earthy yet subtly sweet, Recess fits into the sparkling tea or kombucha anti-soda camp in terms of taste. I tried four Recess flavors (Black Cherry, Blood Orange, Peach Ginger, and Pomegranate Hibiscus), and Pomegranate Hibiscus is my favorite for its flavor-forwardness. Not only does Recess deliver a natural and balanced flavor -- each can also supplies a wave of calming cool to its drinker.
Price Check: $39.99 per 8-pack, or subscribe and pay $49.99 per 12-pack
What’s The Deal?
The British brand began distributing its Cucumber, Yuzu, and Hibiscus & Rose seltzers in America this summer after launching in the UK in 2019. Each can contains grape juice and lemon juice, plus extracts, juices, and botanicals. I ordered a case of both Yuzu and Cucumber to sample and was excited to find that Something & Nothing delivers through Iris Nova like Sanzo does. Because the platform already had my information, I only had to enter my phone number online, then confirm my order via text.
Of the group, Something & Nothing surprised me most. The brand’s website states that Something & Nothing is “perfectly blended to deliver a full flavor,” a phrase that ironically felt extremely empty until I cracked open my first can. Their flavors are deep, bold, and almost experiential -- tasting both the Cucumber and Yuzu flavors, I felt transported to a day at the spa.
Cucumber tastes fresh, crisp, and subtly sweet, and Yuzu (which is a Japanese citrus fruit) tastes like a combination of citrus and mint, plus a hint of grassiness. Something & Nothing is for the elevated anti-soda drinker -- it’s the type of seltzer around which you could design an entire tasting menu or cocktail flight.
Price Check: $34.99 per 12-pack, or subscribe and pay $29.95 per pack
What’s The Deal?
Founders Ben Goodwin and David Lester worked with a team of gut microbiome researchers to craft Olipop, their healthier soda alternative that contains prebiotics, plant fiber, and botanicals, in addition to the brand’s proprietary blend of chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, kudzu root, cassava fiber, cassava syrup, marshmallow root, slippery elm bark, napal cactus, and calendula flower designed to benefit digestive health. Currently, Olipop sells its tonic in six flavors: Orange Squeeze, Strawberry Vanilla, Root Beer, Vintage Cola, Ginger Lemon, and Cherry Vanilla.
Olipop tastes like nostalgia in a can. The brand has chosen a vintage design and flavor lineup -- and the three flavors I sampled (Strawberry Vanilla, Ginger Lemon, and Vintage Cola) taste scarily similar to true old school sodas. That means each can is super sweet (I rechecked the label to make sure it contained no added sugars), so meant I couldn’t finish an entire can, but I imagine soda-lovers will most easily embrace Olipop.
Price Check: $35.99 per 12-pack, or subscribe and pay $30.59 per pack
What's The Deal?
Created in Dallas and rebranded after a Shark Tank appearance, Poppi is a bright and vibrant spin on prebiotic soda. Like Olipop, Poppi seeks to improve gut health with a dose of apple cider vinegar (which has been used historically to improve immunity, digestion and skin) in every can. Poppi uses unfiltered ACV in their formula, meaning each can contains the “mother” of vinegar, plus polyphenols and prebiotics. Poppi comes in eight bold flavors: Watermelon, Strawberry Lemon, Ginger Lime, Raspberry Rose, Blueberry, Orange, Pineapple Mango, and Peach Tea.
Poppi tastes like a refreshing mix between a healthier soda and kombucha. The brand has smartly blended flavors that compliment ACV without letting it steal the show. Poppi includes a dash of cane sugar in each can -- which can be a plus or minus depending on your agenda. My favorite flavor is Lime Ginger, whose sweet and sour elements taste like a mellowed-out ginger ale, but like Olipop, its sweetness prevented me from finishing an entire can.
Price Check: $35.88 per 12-pack
The anti-soda revolution is here, and it’s brought something for everyone. From the sparkling water stans to the classic soda crusher, each taste preference has been considered in the formulation of next-generation fizzy fun. I’m excited to watch as brands continue to push the boundaries of science and health… and sample their elixirs along the way.