It’s a warm summer evening and you’re at a BBQ with all of your friends. What do you reach for in the cooler to drink? My go-to this summer has been spiked seltzer because it’s always a refreshing choice and it’s not as sugary as wine, as caloric as beer, or as hangover-inducing as a cocktail. It’s perfectly refreshing and never makes me feel icky the next day.
If you like your vodka-sodas, spiked seltzers are a great alternative, perfect to bring to a beach or backyard summer party.
Whenever my friends and I drink it though, we wonder what it’s actually made out of. I found a Washington Post article that explained it well. Turns out, it’s either a malted beverage or it’s made from brewed fermented sugar. They’re almost always gluten-free and very low in sugar. The ingredient lists are always really short too: Sparkling water, alcohol, natural flavors. That’s it!
I’ve put in the very hard work of taste-testing many spiked seltzers over the last two months so you don’t have to. Similar to my dairy-free ice cream ranking, I’ve rated my top picks for the best spiked seltzers to drink this summer. I obviously haven’t tried them all, so chime in with any brands or flavors that you’re loving so I can add them to my list.
I think we should all write to Spindrift and ask them to make their own version next!
White Claw Pure
Notes: My new assistant, Nicolette, made me try the White Claw “Pure” flavor which actually has no flavor at all. It tastes like you’re drinking a San Pelligrino and I love that. If you want to get fancy, drink it over ice with lemon or lime for some truly natural flavor. That is my favorite way to enjoy it but out of the can does the trick too.
Cutwater Spirits Fugu Cucumber Vodka Soda
Notes: I discovered Cutwater Spirits at a local beer garden (It was The Beer Garden at Shippan Landing for any of my local friends). I don’t drink beer so I ordered a Cutwater Spirits Paloma and was shocked at how good it was for a canned drink. I posted about it on Instagram and the brand sent over a bunch of their other flavors to try out. My favorite is the vodka mule, but I digress. They make a cucumber vodka soda that I’m including in this list because it’s low-calorie which puts it in the same category as spiked seltzers, in a way. The alcohol is different, but it’s the same vibe. It’s refreshing and light with a mild cucumber flavor.
BON & VIV Spiked Seltzer Black Cherry Rosemary
Notes: Out of all my top picks, this has the most flavor but it’s spot on with an herbal note of rosemary.
Arctic Summer Ruby Red Grapefruit
Notes: I sampled Arctic Summer for the first time at a grocery store in New Hampshire over Memorial Day weekend and immediately bought a variety pack for our BBQ. We did a taste-test and all agreed that the Ruby Red Grapefruit flavor was our favorite. It’s a light on the flavor side which I clearly appreciate in my spiked seltzer.
Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzer Raspberry Rosé
Notes: I got a box of this in the mail from Smirnoff and thought I wouldn’t like it because I never liked Smirnoff ice and raspberry rosé sounded gross. But I have to admit, I liked it a lot more than I thought I would! It’s light and refreshing, but it definitely doesn’t taste like rosé, so don’t expect that.
BON & VIV Spiked Seltzer Cranberry
Notes: My dad always drinks “Cape Codders” in the summer which is vodka, cranberry juice, and lime. This is reminiscent of that and the nostalgia alone is half the reason I like this simple flavor. It tastes really clean, not too sweet not too sour.
White Claw Black Cherry
Notes: Apparently I have a thing for black cherry which I just noticed in making this list. When I first tried this flavor, I was not expecting much because it smells like Marishino cherries, which I hate. But when I took a sip, I was surprised to find that it was crisp and dry and definitely not too sweet.
BON & VIV Spiked Seltzer Lemon Lime
Notes: You can’t go wrong with lemon-lime. It’s classic. It’s refreshing. Everyone likes it. Out of the lemon and lime flavors, I’ve tried, I like BON & VIV the most because it doesn’t taste sweet or fake. It has the perfect amount of citrus flavor without being overpowering.
Truly Spiked & Sparkling Wild Berry
Notes: Everyone else seems to love Truly but it’s not my favorite. I’ve had a sip of most of the flavors and the only one I like is the wild berry. I give it a solid B. If you’re at a party where they only have Truly, go for this flavor.
Transparency note: I worked with BON & VIV for a sponsored Instagram post here. This blog post is not paid and unrelated to that but felt I should mention the connection. Photos by Julia Dags.