Where were you the first time you tried hard seltzer? The alcoholic drink's popularity is relatively recent, and undeniably linked to the bubbly beverage craze that's taken over in the last couple years. From June 2019 to June 2020, hard seltzer sales reached $2.7 billion (!!) and made up for more than 10% of non-liquor alcohol sales. Hard seltzers have given people who don't like beer a low ABV option that's crazily drinkable and low on calories.
At any given college party, where beer would have reigned supreme, you are now even more likely to see someone holding a tall skinny can of tropically flavored White Claw (or so we've been told—we're no longer attending them :) As hard seltzer has positioned itself as the drink of choice at bars, cookouts, and restaurants, we've seen the choices balloon, with most major beer brands now offering their own spin. To help whittle down the options, a few members of the Delish team set out to rank every hard seltzer we could get our hands on to make our definitive picks.
The first hard seltzer you probably tried has a new, higher ABV version that clocks in at eight percent and now comes in a variety pack. Choose from Lime, Blood Orange, Blackberry, or Cranberry.
BUY NOW White Claw Surge Variety Pack, kroger.com
Topo Chico already produces what is considered by many to be the best sparkling water so it was no surprise when they dropped their own spiked version. These cans have the signature Topo bubbliness and a fresh, fruit-forward flavor without being too cloyingly sweet. Though they may only have four flavor options, there's not a single dud in the bunch.
BUY NOW Topo Chico Hard Seltzer Variety Pack, $28.89, drizly.com
These seltzers were a huge surprise winner! Brought to you by the creative minds at Breckenridge Brewery, a craft beer maker based in Colorado that's been pumping out unique beers since 1990, these seltzers come in unique flavors like Honeydew and Apple-Pear.
Willie's Suprebrew should first be commended for their excellent product design. Looking at a Willie's can is like staring into a Saul Bass poster for a movie about tropical fruit. Speaking of fruit, these cans are brewed with *actual* fruit juice. From the first sip you'll be able to tell the difference between this and all the other brands mentioned. If you prefer fresh pineapple over Sour Patch Kids, Willie's is for you.
Think Truly, but margarita style. What more could you want? This pack comes in four flavors—Classic Lime, Strawberry Hibiscus, Watermelon Cucumber, and Mango Chili—with all the bold flavors of an actual marg.
Everything about this hard seltz from Bud Light is nostalgic, from the newly-chic-again aesthetic to the actual flavors of the booze (Cherry Limeade, Blue Raspberry, and Summer Ice, for those who are wondering!). The variety pack is very clearly labeled as a summer offering—and, I suspect, given the tie-dye craze we're all currently swept up in—it'll be a 2021 special. Plus, it's slightly on sale at the time of publication. TL;DR: Get this stuff while you can.
BUY NOW Bud Light Retro Summer Variety Pack, $15.99, bevmo.com
Tequila lovers will totally be reaching for Jose Cuervo's Playamar next time they're day-drinking. You can definitely tell the difference between this tequila-based hard seltzer and the malt liquor found in the majority of the other ones. The cocktail-inspired flavors are lime (a bubbly take on the traditional margarita), and grapefruit (a sparkling mimic of the Paloma cocktail). Each can of Playamar has only 90 calories per 12-oz. can, 4.5 percent ABV, and contains zero sugar or carbs.
Ranch Water is a super popular cocktail found across Texas that's made up of three ingredients: Topo Chico (bottled just south of the border in Mexico), lime juice, and tequila. So it's no wonder that a Houston-based brewery created a line of seltzer centered on this simple drink. While their ode to the original is awesome, we fell in love with the Mayer Lemon twist—hands-down one of our favorite citrus hard seltzers.
We know: ranking White Claw seventh might be seen as a mortal sin. But honestly, it's only because of White Claw's success and pervasiveness that it's even possible to have six other seltzers to rank higher. It will forever be the "Coke" of hard seltzer and from the incredible Black Cherry to the underrated Lime, you can never go wrong grabbing a can of Claw.
There is something innately fancy feeling about Bon Viv. From their hand drawn iconography to the light bubbliness that reminds you of drinking mineral water, this is perfect spiked seltzer for when you want to embrace your bougie side. We know coconut can be pretty polarizing, but if you are into it, the Coconut Pineapple is the absolute standout.
Big, bold fruit flavors just like the name implies. Our favorites come from their new citrus series that serve up distinct tartness and acidity without being overwhelmingly sour. We hope their fantastic Blood Orange flavor has other brands competing to create their own version featuring the colorful fruit (though it may be hard to beat Golden Road's).
Truly's new "punch"-centric flavors—Fruit Punch, Tropical Punch, Berry Punch, and Citrus Punch—will be available nationwide starting May 10. Oh, you want to know more about the seltzers themselves? They've all got just one gram of sugar, 100 calories, and come in at five percent ABV per can. Plus, the bright new packaging is sexy for summer, y'all.
Crushable in a way that reminds us of their Anheuser-Busch cousins Bud Light. But what makes these cans stand out is how easy it is to forget you're drinking something alcoholic. If we had lined up the Michelob Mixed Berry against an unspiked seltzer, you honestly might not be able to tell which one has booze. Each can has zero carbs, zero sugar, and is only 80 calories.
BUY NOW Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer, $17.99, drizly.com
Vizzy hard seltzers are sweet. Sure, most of these seltzers can be a bit cloying, but these are on another level. While it was hard for some of our tasters to imagine having more than a can or two in a sitting, we also fully recognize that these are unbelievably popular. The good news: along with the sugar high you'll also be packing in some antioxidants and vitamin C.
One of the few brands to brew up seltzers with some heat, Flying Embers might be the sole brand using chili peppers like jalapeño and cayenne for flavor. It was fun to have that kick, but we weren't blown away by their none-spicy flavors. On the brighter side, Flying Embers is one of the few seltzers we tried that's USDA-certified organic.
We'd rather reach for a beer from Kona Brewing Co., but big props for incorporating tropical fruits like guava and starfish into their seltzers. Basically a luau in a can.
Truly is constantly reinventing their fan-favorite hard seltzers, and this iced tea mix pack is great for those who want some extra flavor in their drink and already love Truly lemonades. They come in flavors like strawberry, lemon, raspberry, and peach, and combine hard seltzer, real brewed tea, and other fruit flavors.
BUY NOW Truly Iced Tea Mixed Pack, $16.99, abcfws.com
Bud Light pivoted from their normal beer selection and released Bud Light Seltzer back in January. The original flavors included black cherry, strawberry, mango, and lemon lime, and now they're making even more flavors to enjoy.
The new Bud Light Seltzer variety pack "Remix Edition" will include grapefruit, cranberry, and pineapple along with the original strawberry. It launches in stores on August 31, but until then you can still pick up the original variety pack.
BUY NOW Bud Light Seltzer Variety Pack, $17.99, drizly.com
Unlike the other hard seltzers on this list, High Noon is made with vodka—not malt liquor—which gives the seltzer a light, crisp taste. In fact, the brand has gained quite a cult following, with fans saying they would choose the drink over any other brand.
Maha markets themselves as the healthy version of hard seltzer. It's spiked with booze, yes, but also contains a solid dose of potassium, calcium, and magnesium from 100% USDA certified organic fruits (as opposed to fruit flavors). You can certainly do a lot worse...
It is frozé season, after all. With flavors like Pink Apple Rosé, White Peach Rosé, Strawberry Rosé, and Raspberry Rosé, you're favorite variety of wine is now your favorite type of seltzer.
Surprisingly, most carbonated hard seltzers aren't actually made from seltzer. Arctic Chill is, however—and you can taste the difference in this drink's understated, soft taste.
With zero grams of sugar and 88 calories, you won't have to worry about grabbing another can of Henry's hard seltzer—or three.
Okay, so "spicy" might not be the first qualifier you're looking for in a hard seltzer—but if you enjoy the tangy taste of a spicy marg or a Bloody Mary, then you'll like this seltzer.
Be careful with these: The ABV of Pabst's seltzer is 8%, which is almost double the usual 4-5% ABV hard seltzers have—and even more than the original PBR!
The world of craft brewing doesn't end with beer; hard seltzers are starting to join the mix. This creative seltzer uses fermented California orange juice instead of malt liquor, which gives the drink an extra fruity, almost wine-like taste.
Now you can enjoy the probiotic health benefits of kombucha during happy hour with this alcoholic version of the trendy drink.
Seltzer that tastes like lemonade and has a 5% ABV? Sign us up.
No time to make a Piña Colada? This coconut and pineapple flavored seltzer tastes just like the tropical drink—with a fraction of the calories.
Besides their lovely, colorful cans, Wild Basin stands out from other flavors because of their non-artificial, authentic fruit flavors.
Talk about a watermelon sugar high! This Austin-based favorite mixes refreshing mint with sweet watermelon.
If bubbles aren't really your thing, try Pura Still. It's spiked still water, so basically a flat version of a hard seltzer.
Fruit juice, water, and alcohol from cold-brewed sugar—those are the only three ingredients in this hard seltzer, so you know exactly what you're getting.
Made with Sauza tequila, these tropical flavor spiked seltzers are sure to be the life of the party. The can is also available in lime and mango flavors, but grapefruit has the strongest taste.