What are hard seltzers and why is everyone drinking them?

Booze-fuelled fizzy water isn’t something many of us have come across before, but it’s a whole new drinks trend that’s on the rise.

James Chase, director at Chase Distillery, was living in Chicago when the seltzer phenomenon sparked in the USA. “I saw first-hand how dominant the category was, with seltzer outselling IPA beer,” he says. “It’s proving popular, because consumers are more concerned than ever about the need to live a healthier lifestyle. They’ve been searching for a drink that’s sessionable, low on sugar and that fits an ‘on the go’ lifestyle – and the seltzer ticks all these boxes.”

According to The IWSR Hard Seltzer Report, in the last six years, hard sparkling waters – also known as hard seltzers – now account for nearly half (43%) of all US mixed drinks sales. And this summer, we’re getting in on the act. Ocado seems to be leading the way in terms of supermarket stock, but others are catching up slowly, with Tesco stocking the leading brand White Claw (£2.50 for 330ml) and Aldi has launched the brand new Nordic Wolf range.

Hard seltzers can be a healthier, vegan-friendly alternative to beer or alcopops, thanks to its low-calorie range and little to no added sugar. A can of Nordic Wolf, for example, contains only 97 calories, compared to a bottle of beer or cider, which contains around 140. And many of the sweet, pre-mixed drinks contain lots more. They’re made pretty simply too, from a mixture of sparkling water, alcohol and fruit flavourings.

Gary Hyde, senior buying manager at Ocado, notes seltzers have been a runaway success in the USA, so it was a no-brainer to start stocking them. “Typically, hard seltzers are low in alcohol (around 5%), low in calories and low in sugar, so appeal to a wide variety of customers, including those who are health conscious or looking to reduce their alcohol intake,” he says.

And at Chase Distillery, they’ve added one extra ingredient into the mix: gin.