What Is a Hard Seltzer?

Anish Patel @ 2022-03-21 05:42:37 -0700

What Is a Hard Seltzer?

Hard seltzers are all the rage these days. It wasn’t long ago that sparkling water became a popular (and, let’s face it, more enjoyable) way to stay hydrated.

Hard seltzers followed closely behind as a healthier alternative to some other alcoholic beverages. It’s easy to fall in love with these deliciously refreshing, canned beverages that keep the alcoholic content at a minimum. 

Plus, these seltzers can be enjoyed at the beach, at the pool, and almost anywhere. For this reason, they have become a fixture of wellness trends. Influencers can be found across social media posing with them in bikinis, touting them as healthy alternatives to store-bought cocktail mixers and beer.

However, it’s important not to accept any hard seltzer blindly; they’re not all made alike. Some of the hard seltzers on the market today are no better than a typical glass of beer or wine. 

On the other hand, some hard seltzer producers are committed to using natural, gluten-free, and low-calorie ingredients — you just have to know what to look for.

If you want to stay healthy and explore the world of hard seltzers, we’ve got your back. We’re going to break down exactly what a hard seltzer is and compare it to other common alcoholic beverages. That way, we can answer this very important question: are hard seltzers better for you? 

Let’s dive in.

What Exactly Is a Hard Seltzer?

Hard seltzers are also known as spiked seltzers or just “seltzers.”

They are fizzy, bubbly, light alcoholic beverages that typically come in a can. They’re also refreshing and delicious. These fizzy drinks are often touted as healthier, lighter alternatives to wine, beer, and typical summer cocktails like daiquiris and margaritas. In many ways, that is correct. 

What Makes Hard Seltzers Hard?

You may be surprised to learn that there is no liquor in hard seltzers. That’s right, the “hard” in “hard seltzer” actually comes from a fermented alcoholic beverage made specifically for the drink.

The type of alcohol used in hard seltzers varies by brand. Some brands ferment cane sugar into alcohol, while others use malted barley. The alcohol by volume (ABV) is typically around 5%, although some are as low as 4% while others reach 12%. 

What’s in a Hard Seltzer?

Alcohol and sparkling water are the main ingredients of hard seltzers. However, as you peruse the shelves of the grocery store, you’ll find that not all seltzers are made alike.

Some brands add natural flavors, others add artificial flavors, and some even add corn syrup to their formulas. Be sure to take a peek at the ingredients before you buy, especially if you’re switching to seltzers for a specific health-related reason.

Hard seltzers come in a wide range of flavors. Almost all are fruity and refreshing; you’ll find lime, grapefruit, watermelon, peach, guava, mango, raspberry, pomegranate, and even cucumber. You’ll also find aromatic flavors like ginger, basil, thyme, rose, jasmine, cucumber, and sage. 

For those who enjoy an intense flavor profile, be sure to look for seltzers with spicy flavors like ginger turmeric, clove, and jalapeno.

Are Hard Seltzers Healthier?

To answer this question, let’s first look at the nutritional value of some common summery drinks and then compare those to the average hard seltzer.

Beer vs. Hard Seltzer

Beer is a fermented alcoholic beverage, like hard seltzers, but the two drinks couldn’t be less alike. 

  • ABV: Anywhere from 5%-12% 

  • Calories: The lightest beer may be 100 calories, with heavier beers exceeding 300 Carbs: 5-20 grams 

  • Sugars: No sugars 

  • Gluten: Beer contains gluten 

Beer ranges in styles from light as a feather to heavy enough to be dessert. This means that the nutritional value varies, too.

The most significant advantage that hard seltzers have over beer is that they’re gluten-free. If gluten is a deal-breaker for you, you know that most gluten-free options come at a higher ABV than you may be willing to drink on a sunny afternoon.

Hard seltzers are a low-alcohol, gluten-free alternative to beer. 

Wine vs. Hard Seltzer

  • ABV: 8.5%-20%, but most dry wines will be about 12.5% 

  • Calories: 120-130 for a dry wine 

  • Carbs: 4 grams in a glass 

  • Sugars: 1-2 grams per glass 

  • Gluten: Wine is gluten-free 

Wine is also a fermented beverage, but it is made by fermenting grapes, so it’s already gluten-free.

However, wine can be pretty heavy on a summer day, and you might find that you need something a bit more refreshing. Plus, the ABV in wine is typically high — most wines will be closer to 12.5%.

So, if you’re planning on having more than one drink, you’re going to want to pace yourself with glasses of wine. Hard seltzers might just be the ticket if you need something more refreshing and lighter on the alcohol than wine.

Margarita vs. Hard Seltzer

  • ABV: 9%-27% depending on the brand, more commonly closer to 9% 

  • Calories: 100-200 calories per drink 

  • Carbs: 10-13 grams 

  • Sugars: 24 grams per drink 

  • Gluten: Margaritas are gluten-free 

Who doesn’t love a margarita on a hot day?

The lime is the perfect way to keep it light, while the tequila turns the volume up. However, tequila is a distilled liquor, and the buzz will hit stronger. Plus the calories of the added mixers make a few drinks the equivalent of several Mcdonald's cheeseburgers.

If you like a citrusy drink but don’t want to pack on the calories, hard seltzers are a better option than margaritas.

Whiskey and Coke vs. Hard Seltzer

  • ABV: 14% 

  • Calories: 200 per drink 

  • Carbs: 29 grams 

  • Sugar: 29 grams 

  • Gluten: Whiskey and coke is gluten-free 

Whiskey and Coke is an easy, no-frills drink that doesn’t cost a lot. Plus, you can make one in under 30 seconds.

These perks make the classic whiskey and Coke a pretty easy drink to fall back on, but the sugar content of this drink is off the charts. A gram of sugar contains four calories, and you don’t have to do the math to guess that Coca-Cola is a heavy-hitter.

If you’re concerned about your sugar intake, swap any cocktail with soda for a hard seltzer that uses natural ingredients and no added sugars. 

Health Benefits of Hard Seltzers 

Hard seltzers are a healthier alternative to many cocktails for several reasons. 

Hard Seltzers Aren’t Too Alcoholic

One major perk of these drinks is simple: they almost always have a lower ABV. One gram of alcohol contains seven calories; that’s even more than sugar! Less alcohol means lower calories, and this means you can have a drink without worrying about undermining your healthy lifestyle.

Most hard seltzers out there are 5% ABV. Some dip below that — we recommend keeping an eye out for those ones.

Hard Seltzers Are Lower in Sugar

These days, sugar is in everything. If you’ve ever tried to cut it out of your diet, you know how hard it is. Even the condiments you buy at the store contain sugar, and alcoholic beverages tend to contain plenty of the sweet stuff as well. This is especially true of cocktails with juice or soda. 

On the other hand, hard seltzers tend to keep sugar levels very low. In fact, most cans have just two grams of sugar, around the same as a glass of dry table wine. 

Hard Seltzers Are Low in Calories

Another perk of hard seltzers is the low calorie count. The average hard seltzer contains only 100-120 calories per drink. If you plan on having more than one or two, this is an excellent option. 

It’s Easy To Love Hard Seltzers

Compared to many alcoholic beverages — and especially most cocktails — hard seltzers are a little easier on the system. 

In addition to their health benefits, seltzers are convenient to drink. They go down easy and come in cans, which means you won’t have to worry about running into “no glass” rules. Just make sure you’re buying seltzers with natural ingredients, are gluten-free, and keep the alcoholic content below 5%. 

Oh, and make sure you get the flavors you love, too! 

If you love wine and you love seltzers, you have to try our canned wine cocktails, Tinto de Verano and Rebujito. Get the Spritz Sampler today to try our gluten-free Spanish wine cocktails made from all-natural ingredients.


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