Unless you’re a Millennial, or share a house with one, it’s quite likely that you haven’t heard of hard seltzers. But this new drinks category has enjoyed a staggering 600 per cent uplift in sales in the past two years and is now estimated to be worth over £4 billion!   

So what exactly is a hard seltzer? Well, it’s alcoholic sparkling water (usually with fruit juice or juices added). They made their way over to the UK from the US, where they are big business. They tend to be lower calorie than your average alcoholic drink and often have added herbs or minerals for ‘health’ reasons as well as palatability. They have a low-ish ABV, are usually low calorie and often low sugar, gluten-free, or with no added sweeteners (though not all). The manufacturers use an array of different alcohol bases – from gin and vodka to fermented fruit and cane sugar, or a neutral grain spirit, and even white rum.

With a summer of outdoor gatherings and the fact that they tend to come in pre-mixed single serve cans, they’re proving very popular, so I’ve checked out a few for you:

Whisp is a seltzer with added milk thistle (the detox hero) that apparently helps tackle inflammation and supports a healthy liver. It’s available in two refreshing flavours:  Whisp Cucumber & Mint and, Whisp Raspberry & Elderflower. The former was my favourite. Enjoy at home poured over ice and garnished, or ‘on-the-go’, Whisp can be enjoyed straight from the can (RRP £2.50 each / four for £10 from whispdrinks.co.uk 

Another is SENTZ and this has added minerals – calcium, magnesium and potassium.  It’s just 92 calories a can and comes in three flavours: Sweet Melon & Mint, Tangy Raspberry & Lime or Spiced Orange & Ginger. These flavours give you the choice of a range of taste palates from sweet to spicy (I liked the spicy one best). It has no artificial flavourings, artificial sweeteners or artificial colourings and has a 4% alcohol fermented fruit base with fruits ‘of provenance’, along with British sparkling spring water from the Cotswolds.  The full SENTZ range is available online at SENTZ.co.uk at £2.50 per can or 12x330ml for £25.95.

Long Shot is an award-winning take on the craze. Using all-natural fruit juices and a neutral grain spirit, Long Shot offers a ‘lighter, cleaner’ way to drink – all are under 70 calories and come in three different flavours: Grapefruit (my favourite) Strawberry & Rhubarb and Raspberry & Blackcurrant. Long Shot is 4% ABV, Gluten Free, suitable for vegans, low sugar, less than 70 calories per can, and keto friendly.  £26.50 for 12 from longshotdrinks.co.uk and Not on the High Street. Mixed cases also available.

And last, but by no means least of the ones I’ve tried, is Berczy. At just 75 calories a can, there are three tasty and fruity flavours in the range, all made using fresh fruit and real ingredients. Choose from zingy Lemon & Lime, fruity Peach & Raspberry or tropical Passion fruit & Turmeric (surprisingly my favourite, as I thought I’d like Lemon & Lime best) £2.30 for a 250ml can and available from Planet Organic stores, berczydrinks.com and Amazon.

To sum up though, these are all very pleasant and refreshing drinks, but you aren’t aware of the alcohol content in the taste of the drinks.  So, for that reason, and for the life of me, I don’t really see the point of them!  If I want an alcoholic drink I will have one, and there are some lovely premixed, refreshing cocktails available, such as this one from Conker gin. The company takes its Dorset Dry Gin and blends it with Hill Farm Apple & Elderflower juice and finishes it with a spritz of bubbles.  It’s fabulous, just 5% alcohol by volume and a great addition to a summer picnic.  No added sweeteners, flavourings or preservations and what’s more, the four pack ‘biocane’ rings are made from a special compostable material, so if wrongly disposed of, they won’t harm wildlife.  Just under £3 a can from conkerspirit.co.uk or masterofmalt.com and when you compare it to the price of a cocktail in a bar, a bargain!

Now, I’m not generally a fan or beer, but I really like this refreshing, low alcohol, low calorie drink that’s a lovely summer thirst-quencher from Stiegl.  Produced by combining Stiegl’s Goldbräu lager with fresh grapefruit juice, this naturally cloudy Radler-style beer contains just 2% alcohol by volume. It is available in a 500ml can in Sainsburys, priced at £2.00.  It’s a great one for some sun-drenched summer sipping.

There are loads of other premixed drinks and cocktails available in supermarkets and other retailers and, of course, lots of other brands of hard seltzers but those are the ones I’ve tasted and rate.

If you crave the flavour of a ready made cocktail. And want to avoid alcohol altogether, have a look at Crave Drinks. This is a range of healthy energy drinks with flavours based on popular cocktails. A blend of natural and functional ingredients help you stay energized and support your immune system.  Zero sugar, zero artificial flavourings or sweeteners, they’re also gluten free and vegan friendly, but these are only 10 calories per 250ml can! They’re available in Mint & Lime (Mojito, my favourite of the three), Passionfruit & Vanilla (Pornstar Martini) and Pineapple & Coconut (Piña Colada).  A trial pack of three is £5 and packs of 12 and 24 are £17 and £29 respectively from cravedrinks.com

Cheers, here’s to some better summer weather!