There’s arguably no beverage category that’s experienced a more meteoric rise as of late than hard seltzers. Credit the carbonated beverage craze to the low-sugar, low-calorie count or the refreshing taste, but the proof is in the numbers: According to Nielsen data, hard seltzer sales increased by over 215 percent. IWSR, a data firm that tracks the alcoholic beverage market, predicts that by 2023, 281 million cases of hard seltzer will be sold yearly.
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In other words, the buzz (pun intended, obvi) around this booze category is legit. And while only a few years ago your choices were limited, there are now more brands out there than you can count on two hands—even big guys like Bud Light and Corona are getting in on the action.
So to determine which spiked seltzers are best, we did the hard work (erm, sipping) for you. Just in time for summer, check out our eight favorite hard seltzers based on flavor, fruitiness, effervescence, and overall ease of drinking.
Best Overall: High Noon
This was hands down the unanimous favorite, so much so that one tester who wasn’t a hard seltzer fan enjoyed a can (or two). The only one of the bunch that’s spiked with vodka (rather than malt or fermented sugar, as many of the others), it’s ultra-crisp and clean, more akin to a freshly-made vodka soda than anything else.
We tried grapefruit, black cherry, watermelon, and pineapple, though it also comes in peach and lime. All of the flavors got two thumbs up, though pineapple was the stand-out; it’s tropical and summery without veering into pina colada territory. It’s also worth noting that the brand uses real fruit juice, and no artificial flavors or added sugars.
High Noon Spiked Seltzer has 4.5% ABV.
Best Crowd-Pleaser: White Claw
Claws up for real. There’s good reason why this juggernaut brand holds a majority of the market—people really do love it. Or, at least all of our testers did. While we found that preferred flavors were highly personal, the array of options offers something for everyone.
Also a winner: The brand’s latest innovation, White Claw 70 which has a lower ABV—3.7 percent as compared to 5 percent—and 70 calories rather than 100. The newbie comes in pineapple and clementine, both of which we liked.
White Claw Hard Seltzer has 5% ABV; White Claw 70 has 3.7% ABV.
Best Crowd-Pleaser Runner-Up: BON V!V
On the heels of White Claw was BON V!V, formerly known as Bon & Viv, another great staple. While they offer some of the same flavors as White Claw, they also earned points for having some unique and yummy combos—pear elderflower, clementine hibiscus, and coconut pineapple—none of which taste too artificial—and zero grams of sugar. Fun fact: This brand also boasts the distinction of being the first hard seltzer brand, originally launched in 2013.
BON V!V Spiked Seltzer has 4.5% ABV.
Best for Ingredient Purists: SeekOut
For those clean eaters who carefully pour over the ingredient label on everything they ingest, this seltzer is choice. It’s super natural, the only one of the bunch that uses apple wine as the alcohol component. Rounding out the ingredient list are water, fruit juices, and pure fruit essences. There aren’t even any natural flavors (which, FYI, aren’t always so natural) in these.
They definitely do skew fruitier, and the apple wine gives them a distinct taste that’s sure to appeal to wine lovers—it’s almost reminiscent of a hard cider. There are five flavor combos, but raspberry + Meyer Lemon was our personal fave.
SeekOut Real Hard Seltzer has 5% ABV.
Best Flavor Combos: Press
The testers with more, shall we say, sophisticated palettes gravitated towards this brand. Flavor pairings include blackberry hibiscus, grapefruit cardamom, pomegranate ginger, and lime lemongrass (there’s also a seasonal blood orange chili option that we can’t wait to get our hands on).
They all tasted natural and pure, not in the least bit artificial. “I feel like I’m drinking a high-end cocktail,” said one sipper. The simple and minimalistic packaging earned rave reviews, and we also love that this is an independently, female-owned brand.
Press Premium Alcohol Seltzer has 4% ABV.
Best Fruit Flavor: Ficks
True story: We poured the grapefruit flavor of this seltzer into a Solo cup and gave it to a tester who was convinced she was drinking straight-up grapefruit juice. The flavors are that pure and juice-like, great for anyone who likes their hard seltzer a bit sweeter (but make no mistake, the sweetness tastes natural, not artificial).
Even the alcohol they use is fruit-derived, from fermented California oranges and sugar. The grapefruit, blackberry, and cranberry flavors all earned raves, although none of our testers were that into the lime variant. FYI, this brand is currently only sold in California, Oregon, and Washington, but they’re expanding quickly so keep your eyes peeled.
Ficks Hard Seltzer has 5% ABV.
Best Specialty Spiked Seltzer: Truly Lemonade
Another major player on the scene, our testers didn’t love the Truly seltzers quite as much as the competition (though it is worth pointing out that they do offer 16 flavors, the most of any brand on the market). That being said, the new Truly Lemonade Seltzers were a big hit.
Half lemonade, half seltzer, one tester described the flavor as, “exactly like lemonade, without any taste of the alcohol.” It kind of reminded us of the Mike’s Hard Lemonade we used to drink back in the day, just way less artificial tasting and not so cloying. There are three flavored lemonades—black cherry, mango, and strawberry—but you can’t go wrong with the classic.
Truly Lemondade has 5% ABV.
Best Tequila-Based Seltzer: Volley
We’re starting to see a few vodka-based hard seltzers, but this is the first tequila one we’ve seen. One of the cleanest and crispest ones we tried, it contains only tequila, sparkling water, and organic juice, and comes in four refreshing flavors: zesty lime, spicy ginger, sharp grapefruit, and tropical mango. (Margarita lovers will appreciate the lime and ginger options.) FYI, per the organic juice part of things, give the can a gentle shake, since it can settle a bit on the bottom.
Volley has 5.25% ABV.
Categorized: Food & Drink