Remember how big spiked sodas were in 2015? If you’re into boozy, bubbly drinks like those from Coney Island Brewing Co. and Henry’s Hard Soda, get this: You can now drink spiked water (you heard us…not even water is sacred anymore).
Spiked seltzer beverages are being touted as a day drinker’s healthier alternative to carb-heavy beers and sugary mixed drinks. But is hopped-up H2O actually worth the hype? Here’s the scoop on four of the newest sips to look out for, plus expert info from Bonnie Taub-Dix, founder of BetterThanDieting and author of Read It Before You Eat It. Oh, and for those worried about gluten — several of these hard seltzers are made gluten-free!
4 Low-Calorie Sparkling Seltzers
1. Truly Spiked & Sparkling
Calories: 100 (2 g carbs) per 12-ounce serving
Made by Boston Beer, Truly Spiked & Sparkling is available in three palate-pleasing flavors: Colima Lime, Pomegranate and Grapefruit & Pomelo. And with 100 calories per bottle and just one gram of sugar, they’re the least indulgent of the bunch. According to the manufacturer, the alcohol comes from fermented cane sugar, while a hint of real fruit juice provides the flavorings. As for convenience, the newly launched cans allow for easy beach-to-pool deck transport (or stick with the signature clear glass bottles to really woo your guests).
The verdict: If you’re a stickler for avoiding artificial flavors and sweeteners, this sip avoids them at all costs. Plus, the bubbliness is soft — sort of comparable to champagne — if you’re feelin’ fancy!
Calories: 140 (5 g carbs) per 12-ounce can
Without a doubt, the folks at SpikedSeltzer want you to enjoy the earth’s most refreshing stuff (Indian River Grapefruit, Valencia Orange, Cape Cod Cranberry, West Indies Lime). They also want you to get your buzz on with the highest ABV of the pack! Sip it solo, or consult their website for recipe ideas (i.e. how use their beverage as a mixer). Just remember that they’re 140 calories a pop (120 coming straight from the alcohol). That puts this bev a bit higher than your average beer at 5% alcohol, but still a bit less than your average mixed drink.
The verdict: The original spiked seltzer brand gets rave reviews from fans and here’s why: bold, un-watered down flavors, no unusual aftertaste, and a price that won’t break the bank. At $8.99 per six-pack (like Nauti, below), it’s one of the cheapest options.
3. Nauti Seltzer
Calories: 110 (5 g carbs) per 12-ounce can
“Dive in and get nauti.” Don’t mind if we do! At just 110 calories per drink, these hard seltzers come in four natural flavors: Raspberry, Lemon Lime, Grapefruit and Cranberry. The vintage-looking cans are pretty sweet too, plus it’s available in a variety pack like its competitors Truly Spiked and SpikedSeltzer.
The verdict: This one’s light and refreshing, with an ethos we can get behind. In a recent interview, Wachusett Brewing founder Ned LaFortune explained the spiked seltzer’s origins: “We did consider entering the hard soda market, but I wasn’t excited about making something that had over 300 calories and had one pound of sugar per gallon of liquid.”
4. White Claw Hard Seltzer
Calories: 110 (4 g carbs) per 12-oz. can
The ingredients in White Claw are no secret. In the “Natural Lime,” you’ll get purified carbonated water, alcohol from cold brewed sugar, natural cane sugar, and you guessed it, a natural key lime juice. Same goes for the Black Cherry and Ruby Grapefruit flavors. The slim cans are easy to grab, and at 110 calories, it’s on par with a light beer (and actually has a higher ABV in some cases).
The verdict: True to its claims, these are minimally sweet, so if you’re hunting for something that doesn’t tastes very sugary, these are for you.
Spiked Seltzer: Sip or Ditch?
So all in all…clear booze + hydrating water = you being the healthiest person at the party? Well, not entirely.
“Is this drink a cool new kid in town? Yes definitely…Is it low in calories? Not necessarily,” Taub-Dix says. In fact, its nutritional profile might be comparable to many mixed drinks.
“Keep calories in mind and make sure you hydrate at the same time — have a regular seltzer on hand,” she says. “Also, remember that just because something is clear doesn’t mean it’s calorie-free or low-calorie. A cup of olive oil is transparent, but it’s about 2,000 calories!” And if used as a mixer, the spiked stuff is “probably a better alternative than some of things you could be using,” she adds. Spoiler alert: tonic water packs 32 grams of sugar per can, right up there with many sodas.
Across the board, spiked sparkling waters are probably what you’d expect — not as flavorful as some of your other options, but still refreshing to enjoy in hot weather. And if you’re wondering why you’d rather have this over a glass of wine? Carbonation has the tendency to make people feel more full, Taub-Dix explains. This means you might end up drinking less (which is inevitably better for you) than if you grabbed a non-carbonated drink.
Are you sold on hard seltzer? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!