"Hard seltzers," as we know them, really hit the scene in 2013 with Spiked Seltzer. The refreshing fizzy beverage was imagined by fifth-generation brewer Nick Shields after he noted the popularity of vodka sodas at bars.
Made from carbonated water, alcohol (typically derived from fermented cane sugar) and fruit flavors, the canned concoction is indeed similar to a highball cocktail. After the introduction of White Claw in 2016, the seltzer market took off, and liquor stores now carry a wide assortment of boozy sparkling water.
But what makes them so popular?
Beyond seemingly limitless flavor options, from blood orange to hibiscus, seltzers have two main draws. First, they have a low alcohol content, usually between 3.5 and 5 percent, so drinkers report being able to sip them without feeling too heady, too fast. Second, seltzers have fewer calories and carbohydrates than your typical beer, so many consider it to be a health-conscious alternative.
It’s not just the liquor aisle that’s adapting to the trend. Many local brewers have started to create these crisp refreshers, offering respite from the heat of the Florida sun. In addition to fan favorites, brewmasters are having fun with the new style of beverage by experimenting with flavors that are only available until the batch is gone.
So what’s out there now?
Swing by Naughty Monk Brewery to try a brightly flavored mango seltzer or a cranberry and pomegranate type, both made with a low alcohol content of 3.5 percent. Over at Big Top Brewing Company, bartenders are serving Hogs Blood, a tart, fruit punch-like brew made with strawberries and watermelon. Celebrating one of Florida’s signature flavors, Good Liquid Brewing Co. keeps it classic with a Key lime pie seltzer.
Watering holes like 3 Keys Brewing and Brew Life Brewing are also enjoying playing around with their flavors and have a rotating selection of seltzers to sip. Currently enjoying the sweetness of spring, Brew Life has a refreshing Berry-N-Stuff seltzer on tap.