Hard seltzers made their way over from the US last year, and in a flurry of new launches, attempted to dominate the summer. Tipped by us as one of the big drinks trends to look out for, this year they’re back in earnest with an astonishing number of new launches coming from British and US brands alike.
Marketed on their appeal as a better-for-you, lower calorie option, and packed in convenient single-serve cans, shrewd minds would say they’re well-placed to take advantage of another summer dominated by greater health awareness, as well outdoor gatherings.
But what exactly is a hard seltzer? Simply put, they are an alcoholic, flavoured sparkling water. Low-ish ABV, low calorie and often low sugar, gluten-free, or with no added sweeteners (though not all), brand owners use an array of different booze bases – from gin and vodka to fermented fruit and cane sugar, or a neutral grain spirit, and even now white rum.
They aren’t claiming to be the most flavoursome, characterful drinks out there, but if you’re looking for a lighter pre-mixed option – or you simply don’t enjoy boozy-tasting drinks – then there’s a wide array of tasty flavour choices.
From our taste testing – which this year included a staggering 60 flavours from over 24 different brands – we found a very varied approach when it comes to quality. Where some brands proudly display sugar-free claims on cans, others opt to use artificial sweeteners or sugar (while still being low calorie) to boost their appeal to consumers that like things more on the sweet side. We’ve made that clear in our list.
We’re looking for a balance of flavour, light and clean liquids that don’t feel cloying, and that simply put, that we’d be happy to drink more than one of. Here’s our round-up of the best.
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The best hard seltzers for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Dalston’s hard seltzer, rhubarb, 4%: £26, Dalstons.com
- Best for functional benefits – Whisp alcoholic sparkling water, cucumber and mint, 4%: £10, Whispdrinks.co.uk
- Best for floral flavours – Bodega Bay elderflower, lemon & mint alcoholic sparkling water, 4%: £23.99, Bodegabay.co.uk
- Best lighter option – Two Days vodka raspberry soda, 3%: £29.95, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for sustainable sipping – Served lime, 4%: £10, Serveddrinks.co.uk
- Best for a picnic treat – East London Liquor Co, pomegranate & vodka seltzer, 4%: £24, Eastlondonliquorcompany.com
- Best for a day at the beach – High Water, lemon and elderflower premium alcoholic sparkling water, 5%: £3.75, Oddbins.com
- Best for fruit fans – Funkin passion & mango sparkling water & vodka, 4.5%: £2.50
- Best for natural flavours – BrewDog clean & press, crushed mango and white peach, 5%: £9.75, Brewdog.com
- Best for cooling refreshment – Two Books alcoholic sparkling water lime cooler, 4%: £20, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for a bit of a change – Island Bay hard seltzer, watermelon, 5%: £15, Drinkislandbay.com
- Best for mixing cocktails – Long Shot grapefruit, 4%: £26.50, Longshotdrinks.co.uk
- Best trend setters – White Claw black cherry, 4.5%: £2.50, Tesco.com
- Best for summer sipping – Fountain hard seltzer, mango, 5%: £25, Hellofountain.co.uk