Courtesy Miami Cocktail Company
If you are at all into beverages, you know that hard seltzer is continuing to have a serious moment. The idea is simple: hard seltzer is pretty much just fizzy water with alcohol in it, and supermarket aisles are filling up with offerings as everyone from huge brands to small craft purveyors gets into the hard seltzer game. But with such abundance, it can be paralyzing to look at what is available and figure out what to buy.
So, because I am a giver, I personally taste-tested 40 flavors of hard seltzer to help you seek out the great stuff. I went in with trepidation, as any GenXer who still has Zima flashbacks would, but am delighted to report that there are some that are truly terrifically enjoyable! Stock up your summer pantry with these 7 excellent hard seltzers for every occasion.
Best Overall: Lunar
During the tasting there was a brand that stood out for being the platonic ideal, for me, of hard seltzer. The flavors were unique and fresh with no artificiality or aftertaste. They were lightly fizzy but not aggressive. Not overly caloric or boozy. And the best part, they were really good with food as a pairing, where many of the others we tried would have fought with certain dishes. That brand was Lunar, a premium artisanal brand focused on using special fruits from Asia for flavor. Currently available in Plum, Yuzu, and Lychee, these were the seltzers that really flipped the script for me.
Buy it: Lunar 12-Pack Hard Seltzers ($38.99), lunar.com
Best Citrus: Truly
Truly, a brand with more than a dozen fruity flavors, won the day across the board with its citrus sparklers. Lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit were all great. You can get them in a citrus mixed box, and these are the ones I would choose for an outdoor gathering for sure.
Buy it: Truly Hard Seltzer Citrus Mix ($15.99), target.com
Best Unique Fruit: Wild Basin
I fell in love with Wild Basin Black Raspberry hard seltzer. Many raspberry flavors really landed in a fake Jolly Rancher sort of place, but this variety (crafted and canned by Colorado based brewery Oskar Blues) is fresh and had a natural tartness I loved. Black raspberries are my favorite berries, so finding a hard seltzer in that flavor was a real win. I also enjoyed their Lemon Agave Hibiscus, which hit all the right sweet-tart notes.
Buy it: Oskar Blues Wild Basin Berry Mix Pack Boozy Sparkling Water 12 pack ($15.99), target.com
Best Blended Flavors: PRESS
While I generally prefer my hard seltzer with a single flavor, finding a lot of the mixes a bit muddy, I really enjoyed the PRESS seltzers, especially the Lime Lemongrass, Pear Chamomile, and Grapefruit Cardamom flavors. The blends are subtle and balanced, and they are elegantly dry.
Buy it: Press Premium Alcohol Seltzer Variety Pack 12 pack ($16.99), target.com
Courtesy Owl's Brew
Best for Iced Tea Drinkers: Owl's Brew
If you love iced tea in the summer, you have to check out Owl's Brew Boozy Teas. These lightly fizzy hard teas were really enjoyable; the English Breakfast Tea with Lemon and Lime tasted like the best possible Arnold Palmer, and other flavors like White Tea with Raspberry and Watermelon were a perfect pairing of tea flavor with fruit.
Buy it: Owl's Brew Boozy Tea ParTea Pack 2 ($15.99), shopboozytea.com
Best Vodka Fizzers: Cutwater
If you are a vodka soda fan, especially if you tend to order flavored vodkas, you are going to want to check out the offerings from Cutwater Spirits. I was a big fan of both their Fugu Grapefruit Vodka Soda, which was as close to my beloved La Croix Pamplemousse as any I tasted, and was really surprised by the Elderflower Vodka Spritz, which all St. Germain fans should seek out immediately.
Buy it: Cutwater Fugu Grapefruit Vodka Soda Cocktail 4 pack ($9.99), target.com
Courtesy Miami Cocktail Company
Best for Brunch: Miami Cocktail Company
Miami Cocktail Company has nailed the perfect mash-up between the hard seltzer and the canned cocktail with its organic Spritz series. These were really great, and all of the flavors just called out to be the new choice for any brunch occasion. I especially loved the Mandarin Rosé Mimosa, the Sunrise Rosé Sangria, and the Grapefruit and Hibiscus Paloma.
Buy it: Miami Cocktail Company Spritz 4 Packs ($12.99), miamicocktail.com