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Woah, it is getting toasty outside. June gave us record-breaking heat waves in the western U.S. with temperatures over 100° in some places, and now that summer is officially upon us, it’s seltzer season. The past few years have given us White Claw, Truly, and a bunch of imitations, but if you’re feeling like switching things up, you’ve come to the right place.
As an early entrant to the hard seltzer space, White Claw now owns upwards of 50% market share. Noting White Claw’s insane rise in popularity around summer 2018, most major labels like Corona and Bud Light have released their own versions and now smaller brands are coming out with more original varieties. Personally, I’ve grown tired of traditional hard seltzers, so it’s exciting to see some new takes on the soon-to-be classic beverage.
Launched just a few months ago by Five Borough Brewing Co. in Brooklyn, Party Water is similar to most other hard seltzers, but with some unique flavors: Grapefruit Orange, Raspberry Lemonade, Strawberry Mojito, and Watermelon Lime. They’re similar to La Croix’s unusual flavors compared to regular lime or lemon sparkling water.
With zero sugars, 100 calories, and 5.0% ABV, Party Water has comparable nutrition facts to most seltzer brands. My favorite flavor is the Strawberry Mojito—the carbonation and flavor aren’t overwhelming, so it makes for an easy sipper on a hot day. If you’re in New York, you’re in luck, but due to regulation Party Water can’t be shipped out of state.
Funky Buddha is probably the least quirky of the new brands I’ve tried. Its four original flavors are Blood Orange, Mango Guava, Key Lime Cherry, and Pink Grapefruit. I really like the Blood Orange and Mango Guava, but the Pink Grapefruit tastes a little off (I prefer White Claw’s grapefruit flavor). This year, Funky Buddha also released a new Tropical Variety Pack, but it’s only available in Florida for the time being.
Funky Buddha has 90 calories, 1g of carbs, 0g of sugars, and a slightly lower 4.5% ABV.
Lunar is my new favorite hard seltzer, and I can’t say enough good things about it. The brand claims to be the first hard seltzer with fruits and ingredients from Asia—“Asian Americana. In a can.” This claim delivers; the flavor is very unique and definitely a fun change up (maybe too easy to drink!). Lunar is essentially an alcoholic version of Sanzo. The three flavors I tried are Lychee, Plum, and Yuzu, and they are all equally delicious.
Lunar launched in October 2020 and its in-store availability is fairly limited (New York, Washington DC, and Georgia), but you can purchase it online. The only downside of Lunar is the 9g of sugar for most flavors and $3/can price, but it doesn’t contain many more calories (Lunar has 120) than any other beer or seltzer.
My favorite sparkling water brand finally launched a hard seltzer this spring. Spindrift took two years to develop its alcoholic version, and it uses the same cold-processing technique as the brand’s flagship non-alcoholic drink. Spiked is Spindrift’s answer to the seltzers on the market before it: “the ingredients read more like a diet soda with alcohol: synthetic zero calorie sweeteners, weird preservatives, synthetic flavors.” Spindrift’s four flavors are Pineapple, Mango, Lime, and Half Tea & Half Lemon.
Unfortunately, it’s only available in New England and Southern California at the moment, but you can request your location on this site. Spindrift Spiked is on the lower end of the ABV spectrum with 4.0% derived from fermented cane sugar.
Like almost every celebrity in existence today, famous YouTuber group Nelk Boys launched their own alcohol brand just a few weeks ago. The sell? No tall skinny cans, but regular beer cans, or “No More Skinny Can Bullshit” in their words. I haven’t had a chance to try it, but the flavors seem pretty typical: Lemon Lime, Wild Cherry, Watermelon, and Pineapple.
Happy Dad is sold out on their website, and its Instagram already has almost a million followers, but if you’re located in California there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find it in stores.
Bonus: DayPack Seltzer (Non Alcoholic)
From arguably the biggest name in non-alcoholic beer, Daypack is a hoppy craft seltzer. Athletic Brewing’s seltzer is great for the seltzer lovers who are taking a break but still want to enjoy something refreshing. The flavors available are Black Cherry, Blood Orange, Lemon Lime, and Mango, and each comes “with hops.” I thought it tasted like a lighter IPA with a hint of fruit -- pretty tasty and definitely distinct. Each can also contains no carbs and no calories. DayPack is available on Amazon for $21.99 for a 12 pack.
Cheers to Summer 2021
Despite the crazy heat over the past few weeks, these new seltzers have me excited to enjoy being out in the sun soaking up the weather. It was also great to finally see some variety, like Lunar’s seltzer made with real fruit juices and Party Water’s interesting flavors. Although some of these may not be available in stores near you, try to find them online, you won’t regret it. I for one won’t be settling for lime White Claw or Truly lemonade anymore…
Five More Interesting Seltzer Brands
- Gerry’s: Only available in the UK, but Gerry’s has fun flavors including passionfruit, strawberry, and kiwi combined with different spirits like gin and rum.
- Cacti: Rapper Travis Scott’s high-alcohol seltzer made with blue agave from Mexico.
- Ashland Hard Seltzer: A premium craft seltzer with amazing flavors like Blackberry Lemonade and Mango Strawberry.
- Bang MIXX Hard Seltzer: The hard seltzer from energy drink brand Bang, with added sodium, magnesium, and potassium electrolytes.
- Arctic Chill: Hard seltzer from popular sparkling water brand Polar, it supposedly is perfect for regular seltzer fans with very little alcohol taste.