Hard seltzer has taken over as the go-to drink for college students who can’t stand to stomach beer and can’t quite hold their liquor. Just about every major alcohol brand has jumped on the seltzer band wagon, so if you’re not quite sure what to get for the next party, here are all the major brands you’ll find at your local liquor store, ranked from worst to best.
Bud Light Seltzer
The most recent beer brand to hitch their wagon to the hard seltzer trend, Bud Light was never exactly known for high quality product before, and that hasn’t changed with their seltzer. Somewhere between caffeinated tap water and the bitter taste of soap lies Bud Light Seltzer. But fear not! But light has two, count ‘em two, separate brands for seltzer: regular and Platinum. Just in case you thought this was anything other than a desperate cash grab.
Pabst Blue Ribbon Harder Seltzer
It’s not automatically a good sign when a brand advertises its product as being the best because it gets you fucked up quicker. But then again, it’s not a good sign when you find yourself holding a Pabst Blue Ribbon of any kind. That’s the exact point when your night takes a turn from drunken enjoyment to regret. Take heed, and stay away.
I never really knew the difference between wine coolers and hard seltzers. Hey, it all had the same effect, right? Who cared about technicalities. Well Smirnoff Seltzers are technically seltzers, even though they come in different wine types, including a variety of rosés. It’s an interesting concept, but it’s pretty weak in terms of execution. If you’re buying Smirnoff, stick to the flavored vodka (wow that felt weird to type).
Corona Hard Seltzer
The major turnoff of all the major beer brands getting into the hard seltzer game is that it’s so obviously not meant to be good. These companies aren’t idiots: they know college kids are scrambling for any kind of hard seltzer they can buy, and if something is at a reasonable price, the taste isn’t going to matter as much. Corona seems like they at least tasted their product before shipping it out, which is probably the nicest thing I can say about their hard seltzer. But it’s more than I could say about some of the others on this list.
Kona Island Seltzer
Maybe I had grown pessimistic about beer brands making hard seltzer by the time I reached for a Kona Island seltzer. So imagine my surprise when I actually enjoyed the fruity carbonated water that had the Kona branding. Featuring slightly off the wall guava mixes, Kona Island seltzer eventually felt more like a novelty than a really good drink by the time I reached the bottom of the bottle, but the first few drinks gave me hope for the major beer brands.
Press Premium Alcohol Seltzer
This is the point where I stopped recognizing the brands and they started to blur together (going blurry when writing an alcohol-based article isn’t exactly an uncommon experience). Press Premium is an exclusively seltzer brand, which means that they don’t have to worry about anything else getting in the way of perfecting the seltzer production. Still, when compared to all the other brands, it landed right down the middle. An improvement over the beer brands but too ordinary and expensive to be worth shelling out the extra bucks.
Bon & Viv
Another exclusively hard seltzer brand, Bon & Viv boasts about being the first “spiked seltzer” brand as well as being one of the healthiest brands out there. That’s all well and good, but it was definitely the brand that tasted the most like water, even though there’s another brand that literally bills itself as sparkling water. That being said, it was pretty tasty and probably would be the ideal choice if you wanted to drink a lot without the sugar rushing straight to your stomach.
Henry’s Hard Sparkling Water
Hey, it’s that brand that literally bills itself as sparkling water! God I love foreshadowing. Rarely seen outside of WalMart’s, I had to make a journey to get my hands on some Henry’s. Did that struggle enhance my appreciation for the beverage? I guess so. It was pretty unique as far as he seltzer went: not terribly tasty, but definitely heavier on the fruit flavoring. An added bonus was that it was cheaper than most of the other brands I bought. I was kinda surprised to see it get some scathing reviews online. Just from personal experience, I wouldn’t mind going back to Henry’s for a night of light drinking.
We’ve reached the point where these are the heavy hitters. The synonymous brands. The brands that most people immediately think of when they think of hard seltzer. So who’s resting at the bottom of the pile? That would be Truly. Truly is another brand that prides itself on being a relatively healthy and guilt-free option, but if I’m reaching for Truly, I’ve already probably made some guilt-inducing decisions that night, so I think they should change up their marketing strategy. Still, it’s hard to argue with a good tasting and somewhat low-calorie drink in terms of hard seltzers, so if I can’t find any White Claws, Truly’s will easily suffice.
I’ve gotta admit it: I liked High Noon the best when I was taste testing all these drinks. It felt like high quality, well-made seltzer in a world full of piss water. The vodka infused drink gets high marks for taste, but gets held back by its price and lack of bang for your buck: for the price of four High Noon’s, you can easily get a six/eight pack or more of Truly or White Claw. Sure it’s got the best taste, but these seltzer-only companies should take a page out of the beer guys’ playbook: drinking isn’t always about taste. It’s about putting away as many as you can before you start to feel sick. I would feel bad chugging High Noon, and for a list like this, that’s a bad thing.
Here it is: the top shelf. The best choice for both affordability and drinkability. Get them in gigantic packs, drink a few without feeling grossed out or sick to your stomach, and let the hard seltzer take ahold of you. White Claws are basically a cliche now, but cliches become cliches for a reason. For White Claw, it’s because most people realized that it’s the best choice for hard seltzer. So crack open a cold one and be aware of your surroundings, because there are no laws when you’re drinking Claws.