Hard Seltzer Is Here & It Wants To Be Your Drink Of The Summer

Designed by Kristine Romano.
While gins in tins and cans of beer in the park have been mainstays of British summertime for years, 2020 brings us a new boozy phenomenon from across the pond. And that phenomenon, my friends, is hard seltzer.
It's existed in the US since summer 2016, during which time the popularity of the stuff has exploded. Back in 2019, Refinery29's US site wrote that one of Nielsen's (an American media insights firm) 2020 predictions for the alcoholic beverage category was that "the number of players in the hard seltzer space will double," and sales growth for boozy seltzer is continuing to significantly outperform that of other alcoholic drinks.
Given all this, it's not really surprising that there has been a boom in availability here. Searches for hard seltzer in the UK were up 67% in May this year, as established names like Kopparberg and Smirnoff launch their versions and brands like White Claw (you've probably seen the memes) make their way into UK supermarkets.
But what actually is hard seltzer?
First, a vocabulary lesson. Seltzer, as you may have guessed, is just fizzy water. Or soda water. Or bubbly water. Or sparkling water... Essentially, carbonated water goes by many names. Hard seltzer, then, is fizzy water blended with alcohol and fruit flavouring. Its simplicity may make its meteoric rise in popularity seem baffling but a big part of the appeal, according to my American coworkers, is the relatively low alcohol and calorie content as well as the increase in options.
Hannah Rimm, who looks after the R29 US Money Diaries, is a self-confessed hard seltzer connoisseur. "Personally, hard seltzer is my favourite [alcoholic drink because] I’m allergic to beer and it’s the only replacement I’ve found that has as much variety."

Olivia Harrison, lifestyle editor, echoes that hard seltzer is the ideal alternative to conventional choices like beer, wine and cider. Her theory on the popularity is that it's "light and refreshing, just like regular seltzer with a little lift of alcohol. The low ABV makes it absolutely perfect for summer day drinking even if you're not someone who would typically identify yourself as being 'sober curious'."

Essentially, hard seltzers want to fit into the space where people want a little buzz but don’t want to go hard on the spirits, hops or grapes and are trying to make more conscious choices. Though it's always worth emphasising that claims about being "good for you" only work if you drink in moderation.

As we move into a socially distant summer, with pub gardens on hold (maybe) and outdoor drinking limited to BYO, hard seltzer will inevitably be the beverage of choice for your lazy picnic or stroll along the river. As Lauren O'Neill wrote for Vice this week: "This is hard seltzer's summer. We're just living in it."
Ahead are the ones we think you should look out for.

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