Seltzer and the Rise of Recreational RTD Beverages
Ever since La Croix became catnip for hipsters, a whole slew of carbonated, colorful, ready made drinks - RTDs - are now popping up across the board, up aisles in the supermarket and down the feeds on our phones. New trends are on the rise in every flavor and size, serving all your hydration needs from performance to party time.
A big new splash comes from hard seltzers. If your own personal White Claw wave has passed, but you still want to keep that tongue-top party pumping from a spritzy sensation, your range of options finally goes can-for-can with the alcoholic mainstays, but as per usual we can trust Bud Light to pillage and copy the latest champion. And with alcohol-free flavors like Lime Hibiscus, Tropical Green, Cherry Cacao… the sweet effervescent intrigue has never been thicker for drinks so light.
Seltzer has gone mainstream, which could lead to the next beverage behemoth mega-chain across from your local Starbucks, but for now we’re just offered tap-tap getaways each day on social media to some newly carbonated drink or activity. Instead of looking for spritz in all the wrong places, here’s what to try instead of taking Natty Light back to the Catalina Lime Mixer:
The majority of booch brews come packing sone spritz, but be careful when grabbing at a whim off the shelf as you might find some brands also sell it otherwise. Unlike soda, the undisputed carbonated category king, you’ll find that kombucha is still satisfying without all the carbonation. It may be hard to believe, but some people don’t like it when their Kombucha is fizzy, as carbon dioxide gives their gut a bit of a rumble. Booch goes both ways.
Teas and Tonics
Those seeking to break free from clutches of soda but can’t yet go full-on kombucha may find their fix in teas. Seltzer tea comes in almost as much effervescent variety as kombucha, but they go a little bit easier on the gut... in case you’ll be sipping on repeat for a while. Olipop or Poppi are leading the seltzer category in a cohesive rebrand to cut in on soda, with similar gut proposition and suggested benefits of the booch, while brands like Minna fall in line with more traditional teas, flavors and caffeine doses. And with cannabis having a resurgence in the political and popular limelights, it’s no surprise to see some even mixing in CBD.
Fun fact, you actually can reinvent the wheel... carbonated water is just as hydrating as normal water. Now now, that’s not supposed to be a blank check to pack more soda in the fridge, whether diet or otherwise. However, it elevates your case for an alternative to regular water. It even makes plain water sound boring, almost flat... but not in the ‘neat cocktail’ sort of way. Here’s where you’ll find the lineup of La Croix competitors… Sanzo, Spindrift, Waterloo… each with their own little spin on the nostalgic fun of childhood, guzzling down sugary soda, but without the caloric detriment we must own up to as adults.
Seriously, what’s next, unicorn steak? The quantifiably catchy, dairy-based protein vertical has yielded some RTDs of its own, delicious chocolate protein shakes and whatnot, but collagen-based RTDs are bubbling up now, too. How much protein do you get in a normal pear? Yeah, didn’t think so. Circle Bev has taken their carbonation excellence from booch to gains, now catering to the protein counters, with the obligatory “20g” in direct line of sight. While collagen isn’t known for boosting one's biceps, rather improving appearance from reduced wrinkles and dryness, it should appeal to most of those old enough who ask why. There’s something endearingly beyond basic about drinking to your skin health with a can of bubbly.
There’s an ongoing debate over the efficacy of collagen as an ingredient in anything past pure peptides powder, so Fizzique has also entered the area with 20g of whey per can instead - plus 45mg caffeine, since why not, and a whole slew of the usual BCAAs that should get you gym rats foaming for the fizz.
Homemade Soda Kits
For many, the most enjoyment comes in the craft itself. For the DIY McGyver crowd, since skipping the bars isn’t an option in a lot of US cities right now, it’s your perfect chance to learn how to mix up the perfect drinks at home. New Year's resolution, anyone? Pulling off a soda machine and mini-bar in your studio apartment is no longer a bachelor’s pipedream. Top your favorite flavors off with some shots or freshly squeezed fruit juice, the fizzy version will disappoint. Imagine the taste of a smoothie without the blender mess to clean. Best of all, these machines mix drinks into twist-top portable bottles. Just print out a few colorful labels and they’ll never know it wasn’t overpriced sugar water from the gas station.
Seltzer water, sparkling water, carbonated… whatever you want to call it, the spritz is more than just a fun vehicle for flavor, it’s a top popping, portable experience that is slowly building you an exquisite new sense memory pastime that hasn’t been tasted since your first sodapop.
And if the spritz is getting old, you can always spice things up to level it out. Just add some capsaicin. Yes capsaicin, the active chemical component of chili peppers, the very same that creates a burning sensation in your mouth and mucous membranes. A 2001 Oxford study demonstrated capsaicin “significantly reduced the intensity of sensation elicited by carbonated water”. Somebody call Starbucks, I have a great idea.
But just how far could this whole thing go? Well... got a seltz?