Our team is dedicated to finding and telling you more about the web’s best products. If you purchase through our links, we may receive a commission. Our editorial team is independent and only endorses products we believe in.
I still remember the first time I heard about White Claw. I had a friend visiting me here in Los Angeles, which meant it was the perfect excuse for some day drinking (who doesn't love a little buzz while sight-seeing?). Around mid-afternoon, while we waited for our pilsners, my pal told me about a new drink he'd tried in Seattle. His elevator pitch? It was basically a boozy La Croix.
As someone that rarely goes an hour without a can of sparkling water in hand, that was all I needed to hear.
The rest is history, of course. Though hard seltzers may have seemed at first like a niche interest, they've completely disrupted the beverage market in ways that are hard to overstate. Aside from newer brands like Truly and High Noon, we've also had an onslaught of household names racing to develop their own seltzers: everyone from Topo Chico to Corona and Bud Light are now in the game.
But with the seltzer aisle now threatening to dwarf beers and ciders in every grocery store, it's hard not to want another underdog story. I'm not particularly interested in seeing what Michelob Ultra does with malt liquor (the base spirit for the vast majority of these seltzers). I want crisp, clean flavors, great branding and a genuine sense of novelty to cut through all the white noises.
And folks, Nectar Hard Seltzer has all of that in spades.
Like many of us, Nectar had a rough 2020. Though the Korean-owned brand had done its R&D and developed four Asian-inspired flavors, the brand was swiftly declined by over 200 retailers in the L.A. area. After that total bust, Nectar pooled more money from family and friends while convincing its manufacturers to give the brand another chance, bringing in special equipment that (of course) promptly malfunctioned.
But the five founders, who call themselves The Nectarines, had worked too hard to quit there. Like the children of the internet they are, they turned to TikTok, posting a product video with their number in the caption – and after 300,000 views in 3 days, plus more texts than they could've bargained for asking where Nectar was available to try, they were able to convince two stores to do secret drops. Which sold out in less than one hour.
With their devoted fandom supporting them on a meteoric rise, less than two years later there are now several places to buy it in my neighborhood alone – but DTC fans will be thrilled to learn they also deliver directly to 25 states (a number that's still set to expand).
And best of all, Nectar’s Cinderella story isn't just PR. Flavor-wise, this brand’s definitely got the goods.
THE FAB FOUR
Nectar retails with its Variety 12-Pack ($32.95), made up of three cans each of the four flavors: Asian Pear, Mandarin, Lychee and Yuzu. Even now as the White Claw Cinematic Universe has spun out into more and more original flavors, Yuzu is the only one that shares any overlap. The tastes of East Asian produce are still woefully underrepresented in the seltzer game, which no doubt plays a huge part in Nectar's passionate, immediate response from fans.
As the citrus flavors, Yuzu and Mandarin bring more sour notes to the table. Since I'm fundamentally opposed to eating anything but junk food on the beach, these two became my go-to cans by the water – the acidic sharpness cuts through any food pairing, but is just as drinkable on its own. Lychee and Asian Pear have more sweetness to them, though they're anything but cloying. These two in particular are almost shockingly flavorful, with the freshness and intensity of real juice, but the super-charged bubbles of a fresh can of bubbly.
Nowhere across the four did I detect any kind of strange, synthetic aftertaste, the main issue Nectar found in other competitors and was determined to combat. And for my macro counters, each can clocks in at only 1g of carbs, making them completely keto-friendly in addition to gluten-free and vegan.
With cans to spare, I handed some out to friends to sample at pool days, yard hangs and picnics alike. The response was overwhelmingly positive each time. With a sea of brands scrambling for market share with their Berry and Lime offerings, it's a pleasure to drink something that's Divinely Different (Nectar's short and sweet catchphrase).
And to get all of that from a bunch of meme kings with a hilarious Instagram is truly just icing on the cake.
FIVE MORE REASONS TO JOIN THE NECTAR HIVE
1. Nectar uses zero sugar whatsoever, unlike other brands that add it to mask their impurities of flavor.
2. These cans clock in at 90 calories and 4.5% ABV, making them light on impact but bold in flavor.
3. The Nectarines respond to every text message personally. Don't believe me? Text 310-388-6729 for info on exclusive drops and giveaways, or to practice your pen pal skills.
4. They also host a YouTube show called Under the Influence, where they enjoy Nectar (and other adult beverages) while interviewing a range of influencers and Internet personalities.
5. The founders have been incredibly transparent about the challenges new brands face in a highly regulated industry of distributors, retailers, and other federally-mandated middlemen – meaning that every can you buy helps support their grassroots effort as opposed to their corporate-owned competitors.