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Alcoholic Sparkling Water Is Here

As you know, canned water is in. What does that mean? Someone was bound to put booze in it for profit, a culinary trend mashing akin to “hot yoga” or “hip hop spin.”

“Alcoholic sparkling water” was waiting in the wings to enter supermarkets and, of course, the time for consumption is now. The brand responsible is White Claw who make flavored “hard seltzer.” Joining them in the competition on the higher end are Nauti Seltzer, Truly Spiked & Sparkling, and Spiked Seltzer. White Claw is seemingly the most ubiquitous and easy to come by and, like the rest, it boasts a common drinkability: it’s 110 calories, low carb, fruit flavored, gluten free, and, naturally, a “natural” product. It’s the same canned sparkling water that you’ve bought into—except this has booze.

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I had to try it. I must know what it is like. Is it any good? Is it a coded wine cooler? Is it legit boozy or weak? After buying a pack of their lime hard seltzer, I’m here to tell you that it is exactly what you think it is: alcoholic sparkling water.

In bright silver cans, the brand claims to be very natural and refreshing and like not-drinking-while-drinking. Untouched, the faux-soda has a bit of a cloying faux-lime taste. It isn’t awful like artificially sweetened gum or soap but it seems to be off. Perhaps that’s the alcohol? Regardless, it does taste like…sparkling lime water. It’s more on the note of an elevated Aquafina Sparkling™ but it doesn’t make you gag: there is no element of wine cooler.

However, it is extremely easy to elevate this drink: by adding in a spray of real lime, White Claw goes from canned bullshit booze to something actually interesting. The addition of the real lime makes it actually taste like a refined cocktail, the real flavor extracting and enhancing the potentially artificial. You feel like you are drinking a very evenly flattened gin and tonic or vodka tonic. It’s gustatory likeness is bizarre.

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This gets at the underlining question related to the beverage: how is White Claw alcoholic? Since there isn’t a direct pointing out of what alcohol is involved and what is making you intoxicated, something seems amiss, making you question if it’s all placebo. There is ample warning about “drinking responsibly” but little suggestion of how this is happening. The ingredients do list the very vague “alcohol from cold – brewed sugar” which adds more confusion than answers. Is it rubbing alcohol? Is it mouthwash?

On their website, there are some answers about the alcohol and, again, it’s bizarre. To answer the question “What is fermentation, using sugar?,” White Claw gives the answer.

Using our unique yeast strain we can break down sugar into alcohol. This creates a pure and simple alcohol base. No malt is used so our liquids are naturally Gluten Free.

Interesting. This has “Basic Health Trend Drink” written all over it—but I don’t hate it. Confused, sure, but not hateful.

Still: that hasn’t answered the alcohol question. A quick search brings you to a Lifehacker article on making fruit juice alcohol, AKA elevated prison wine. This, friends, is just that. Healthy. Ish. Good. Ish. Find out for yourself.

Ultimately, White Claw is good. I drank it all weekend as I’ve been searching for my version of a non-wine alternative akin to beer to indulge in. This? It might be it. It’s drinkable, not too boozy, but can be if you overindulge. White Claw does have a very pronounced buzz that you feel after a few sips which is the mark of a good drink. It’s subtle and can creep up on you.

Boozy sparkling water is certainly going to be a thing. Look for it at your supermarket and give it a try. Why not? If you love canned sparkling water and you love alcohol, you’ll love this. I do recommend it.

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