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Seltzer round up

Hard seltzers conquered calories and carbs. Looks like the world is next. Let’s crack some cans and embrace a craze that just might last.

Hard seltzers conquered calories and carbs. Looks like the world is next. Let’s crack some cans and embrace a craze that just might last.

Call it “spiked seltzer”, “hard seltzer” or bad-boy La Croix (maybe not that one). Call it a fad if you like, but the train has left the station: bubbly, refreshing alcoholic seltzer has upended our industry. This new kid got popular pretty quick, but don’t let all the options overwhelm you. We’ll help you navigate this crisp new world with some helpful endorsements from Drizly.

What is hard seltzer?

It’s a simple concept: sparkling seltzer water meets a kick of alcohol and your choice of natural flavors. Don’t beat yourself up for not thinking of it; we’re kinda kicking ourselves, too. Seltzer slots in somewhere between light beer, alco-pop and fruity cocktails. They’re not killing you with sweetness or knocking you out with high ABV. We’re learning that folks like drinks that they can, you know, drink.

Are hard seltzers a fad or are they here to stay?

Sales are definitely trending upwards. The combined sales graph for 2019-2020 looks like the start of an extreme roller coaster, and we really don’t know where the top is. They’re selling so many seltzer cans right now that conventional breweries are facing an actual can shortage. Sales will probably settle down, but we don’t think hard seltzer’s a fad. The beverage industry has been flirting with light beer alternatives for a while (see: bud light lime and smirnoff ice). 

Why are hard seltzers so popular?

A couple reasons bubble to the surface (ha):

  • Low carb/low calorie: Most hard seltzer brands have a statistical advantage over conventional drinks like beer and wine in the calories/carbs department. Many use cane sugar as their booze source instead of barley or grapes. Cane sugar “ferments out”, so there’s almost no sugar left in your seltzer by the time you crack open your can. Others use pure, clean-tasting vodka, which technically has zero carbs. Most seltzers top out around 100 calories and 2 carbs, so even light beers like Bud Light (110 calories/6.6 carbs) struggle to compete.

  • Drinkability and variety: Seltzers are light and easy to drink, but also delicious. They come in a TON of flavors, too. Berries form a broad seltzer coalition: there’s raspberry, strawberry and even cranberry. Stone fruits like cherries make killer seltzers, too. And of course there’s plenty of lemon-lime citrus to fall back on. No recipe idea is out of bounds - well, maybe horseradish and mustard.

  • Affordability: Hard seltzer 12-pack prices are comparable to your average craft beer or decent wine, so they’re ready to compete with anyone.

  • They just taste great: We know, this one’s pretty obvious.
  • What are the top selling hard seltzers on drizly? 

    You think we keep tabs on that kind of thing? Well ok, we do. The hard seltzer market is crazy competitive, but the Drizly crowd has chosen a couple of all-stars. So, here’s the top contenders:

    Seltzers by brand or category

    White Claw

    Wanna conquer the seltzer-verse? You’ll have to go through White Claw. Named for a cresting wave, they’ve crashed into the bevalc industry, especially with Collection No 1. It’s a solid mix of flavors here, so your 12-pack goes a long way. 3 cans apiece of lush black cherry, tart ruby grapefruit, natural lime and bright raspberry means you’ll never have to drink from the same well.

    White Claw’s flavor defines the hard seltzer flavor profile: it’s crisply acidic, light and refreshing with a distinct fruit flavor that doesn’t overwhelm. Every can will give you 5% ABV, 100 calories, and 2 carbs, so you really can’t go wrong. Black cherry’s our fave, but give ‘em all a try. 

    White Claw Hard Seltzer Variety Pack Collection No 1 - If you don’t want to double down on a particular flavor, this one has a great mix: Black Cherry, Ruby Grapefruit, Natural Lime and Raspberry.

    Earnest Drizly customer endorsement:  “Been drinking these for years, always a winning selection” - Amy (putting it more succinctly than we could.)

    White Claw Mango Hard Seltzer -  If you’re more the committing type, mango is one of our favorite flavors to take on a date to the beach.

    Customer review: “Mangolicious” - Kyle (your move, Webster’s dictionary)

    Truly

    Truthfully, Truly is another juggernaut in the hard seltzer scene. They offer great drinkability, a huge variety of flavors, and they also offer some stats that won’t attack your waistline during beach bod season. Truly seltzer is 5% ABV, 100 calories per can unless otherwise noted, and 2 carbs per 12 ounce serving (other varieties may be slightly different - don’t be afraid to read the can while you’re drinking it).

    Truly Hard Seltzer Berry Mix Pack - Berries and seltzer were in a relationship long before alcohol got involved, but now they’re fully committed. Truly went all-in on berries with this mix pack, with lime being the only citrus fruit to make the cut. Truly has their recipes down and they’ve captured bright refreshing berry flavors.

    Review: “This variety pack of Truly’s is probably my favorite one! Perfect lemonade combo flavors with other fruits and perfect for anyone that loves lemonade and hard seltzer drinks. I’ve gotten this one several times and it’s still a fave!” - Kaitlin

    Truly Lemonade Hard Seltzer Variety Pack - Hey, grownups drink lemonade, too. We’re just usually not as big on the sugar. Truly nailed this one, using lemons as a base camp to launch other flavor excursions. If all that lemonade starts to get old, Truly’s mix pack expands nicely to grapefruit, orange and lime. 

    Drizly customer review: “I’ve tried all the big brands of this new “hard seltzer” trend (I hope it sticks around, I love them!) and Truly by far takes the cake for the best brand! Not too sweet at all, just subtle flavor. If it wasn’t for the 5% ABV kick that comes after a few, you’d think it was just flavored sparkling water! Extremely refreshing and wonderful for summer! Also makes a great mixer without watering down your alcohol content! ;-)” - William

    Truly Hard Seltzer Tropical Mix Pack - Who doesn’t love tropical flavors? You’ll cover most of the equator with the tropical fruits in this pack, but we really show up for that gorgeously fruity pineapple aroma and flavor.

    Blending tea and lemonade isn’t a new idea (see: Arnold Palmer), but Truly riffed on that concept to create their Truly Hard Seltzer Iced Tea Variety Pack. There’s the classic lemon, but also peach, raspberry and strawberry options to balance out the delicate herbal tea character.

    Brutally honest review from Aylin: “I love this hard iced tea.” - Aylin C.

    No carb hard seltzers

    We now arrive at the seltzer version of the impossible dream: super-low calories and NO CARBS at all. If you dig super dry drinks like brut wines, you’ll likely love these seltzers, which have fruit flavor to lend a perception of sweetness. ABV dips below 5% on these seltzers for added crushability.

    Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer Signature Collection - “These are my new favorite seltzers!! The flavors are terrific... I was skeptical about the Spicy Pineapple and it turned out to be delicious.” - Kathryn

    Antioxidant hard seltzer

    Vizzy’s seltzers have the antioxidant vitamin C in them. The variety pack has some creative recipe combos too; we recommend this even if you aren’t trying to avoid scurvy.

    Customer review: “I can honestly say that this has been the best hard seltzer I’ve ever tasted. I love every single flavor and they’re so refreshing. MUST TRY!” - Jordan H.

    Hard Seltzer FAQs

    Which seltzer drink has the most alcohol?

    If you guessed Four Loko, you are correct. Four Loko likes to set the ceiling on ABV, and this is no different at 12% ABV. There’s a bit of black cherry flavor in this recipe, but honestly, that stratospheric ABV compromises drinkability.

    Can I make homemade hard seltzer?

    Want to try your hand at hard seltzer blending? We’re game! Pick up your favorite blending vodka and go nuts with the La Croix. ~1.5 oz of 40% ABV vodka mixed with ~10.5 oz of seltzer will get you to 12 oz of 5% ABV joy.

    How do hard seltzers pair with food?

    Hard seltzers can cut through even the hottest summer day. If you’re in the park or at a BBQ, or watching fireworks from a balcony keep a few on hand. They also pair well with light fare like salads with walnuts and creamy goat cheese. We usually just enjoy these straight out the can, so no need to break out the glassware. If you insist, use a nice kolsch stange glass.

    Is hard seltzer gluten free?

    Most hard seltzer brands are gluten free, yes. Make sure you check with each brand, though.

    So what’s your favorite? Are you riding the White Claw wave, getting honest about your love for Truly, or backing some similarly delicious dark horse candidate? That’s your call. You’ve got a world of hard seltzer brands at your fingertips and you look parched. Whichever brand tops your list, we love hearing what you have to say, so grab some seltzer today and let us know!