Hard seltzers have become a staple for beach days, boat days, and basically, any day that calls for some fun in the sun. Ever since Truly found its way on our grocery shelves and introduced us to the wonderfulness that is spiked seltzer, other brands have jumped on the same train to create their own versions of this effervescent beverage. And considering that the global hard seltzer market size was valued at $8.95 billion in 2021, it should come as no surprise that brands are finding ways to capitalize on this drink's popularity.
Typically made of fermented cane sugar that forms into alcohol, these bubbly drinks are notorious for being lower in sugar than many other cocktail varieties. The alcohol bubbles can be infused with other flavors to create unique sips like citrus, berry, and even pumpkin-spiced spiked seltzer (seriously—someone actually created a pumpkin-spiced spiked seltzer). These boozy beverages are usually gluten-free, fat-free, and they will set you back only around 100 calories per serving.
As a registered dietitian, though, I do not proactively recommend spiked seltzers to my clients. While a once in a while spiked seltzer can be a part of an overall and balanced lifestyle, I prefer sticking to the antioxidant boost that certain wines off if a person is choosing to drink alcohol. But, if a person prefers to cocktail with a spiked seltzer, there are some varieties that are certainly better than others when it comes to the health-promotion department.
All hard seltzers will provide alcohol—a macronutrient that provides 7 grams of calories per gram and negligible quantities of vitamins and minerals. Since consuming too many empty calories is not a step toward a healthy lifestyle, I like to recommend choosing spiked seltzers that do not contain more than the "normal" amount of booze in each can—that is, trying to stick to the 4-5% ABV threshold. Added sugars and questionable coloring or flavorings should be limited when choosing your bubbles too.
Among the dizzying amount of fizzy seltzer options out there, here are the five options that you should skip when you are loading your cart with these popular drinks.
Fizz X is a sparkling seltzer that also contains a boost of caffeine. And while combining the stimulating effect of caffeine with the boost of fun that alcohol can provide may sound like an appealing feature, experts caution against combining the two.
In fact, when alcohol is mixed with caffeine, the caffeine can mask the depressant effects of alcohol, making drinkers feel more alert than they would otherwise. As a result, they may drink more alcohol and become more impaired than they realize, increasing the risk of alcohol-attributable harms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If you are feeling tired, instead of doing a caffeine/alcohol combo like the one found in Fizz X, perhaps skip the booze, hydrate, and take a quick cat nap instead.
Truly Hard Seltzer Margarita
If you are a margarita fan, you may want to stick to the real deal—and invest in some good quality tequila. This margarita-flavored hard seltzer is tequila-free, and instead contains the alcohol created by the fermentation of cane sugar. You know how your head feels after you drink low-quality booze instead of quality options? Yeah—not great.
Plus, this bevvie contains some sodium, making it not the best choice for people with elevated blood pressure.
You are better off making yourself a skinny margarita and leaving these cans on the grocery shelf.
Pabst Blue Ribbon Stronger Seltzer Wild Berry
This sparkling seltzer contains 8% ABV, which is almost double what you usually find in these drinks. Greater ABV means more calories from alcohol, which isn't great if you are watching your waistline. At over 200 calories per serving, this stronger seltzer isn't your best choice if you are focusing on your overall health.
PRESS Premium Alcohol Seltzer
We know that most spiked seltzers are made with sugar. But the sugar is fermented, resulting in a low-sugar beverage. PRESS seltzer contains 5 grams of sugar per serving. While this may not sound like a lot, if you happen to partake in more than one bubbly beverage, you will slowly see your sugar intake creep up.
Sonic Hard Seltzer
Sonic is known for its slushies, so naturally, a hard seltzer that tastes like these classic drinks is appealing. These seltzers get their Sonic slushy flavor from "natural flavors," with the specific ingredients not specified. Natural doesn't always mean healthy, and this large unknown makes me question including this drink in my own healthy diet.