2020 was the year of the hard seltzer. It was the year of a lot of other things, sure. But we haven’t enjoyed many of those other things and I’d prefer to focus on the positives, okay?
Hard seltzer burst onto the scene with the American summer and like many things, slowly found its way into Australian drinking culture by the time the weather started heating up over here, too.
If you’ve never experienced a hard or spiked seltzer, it’s basically a fancy take on a vodka soda. No, really. It is. I spoke to some experts about it here.
The appealing parts of hard seltzer for many is that it’s got no added sugars, and depending on the booze, it’s also often gluten-free. That means many are adopting it as the modern guilt-free drink of choice. Which is cool, I suppose.
But does Australian hard seltzer taste any good?
There are lots of different versions of hard seltzer. Some taste quite lovely, and others are very not good. To help you sidestep any discomfort, I tasted a bunch of options and reviewed them for you below.
Here’s my boozy summary (that I did over a fairly long period of time, don’t worry):
These were easily my favourite of the bunch. This Victorian brand has taken the trend and made it playful with a unique mix of flavours. Their Hard Soda range (Natural Lime and Natural Berry) was simple and crisp – even though I’m not a huge lover of berry-flavoured drinks. And their Spritz selection is a level up, with a few more calories if you care about that kind of thing (155 per drink compared to 91 per Hard Soda), but more complex flavour combos.
Paradise Gin Spritz (blood orange and cinnamon) and Tropical Vodka Crush (mango and coconut) were my top choices. They’re not overpowering on the flavour, but those notes of coconut and cinnamon definitely came through. They’d be great options on nights where you want to impress guests but can’t be bothered with a cocktail.
I have to say though, I hated the Yuzu flavoured Splendid Gin Citrus – it tasted like Eno antacid to me. Very no.
If you want a simple, good quality mixed drink in a can, this is for you. Staple only has two options: Gin Soda Cucumber and Vodka Soda Lime.
I was hesitant about the cucumber flavour at first – how good can cucumber in a can taste? But I was pleasantly surprised. It was one of the loveliest drinks I tasted in this review process. It was really refreshing. I wouldn’t hesitate to pack it for a picnic.
The vodka option was less fun, in my opinion. But that may be less of a case of me not liking the drink, and more of a case of me tasting vodka, lime and soda and being reminded of bad choices in the past (to quote two separate friends who brought this to my attention).
I loved this brand’s vibe. Everything had a sort of “forbidden fruit” tone to it. It’s fun. In terms of flavours, these were surprisingly sweet to me. The selection is made up of Blessed Lime, Hail Mango, Forbidden Pink Grapefruit and Holy Watermelon and Mint.
Personally, I think watermelon flavour is always risky. This one tasted like gum to me. But the others were nice. Mango was probably my favourite.
This is a range of gin-based hard seltzers. The NSW Northern-Beaches born brand offers three flavours: Lime and Cucumber, Crisp Pink Apple and Blood Orange and Grapefruit.
The Crisp Pink Apple reminded me a lot of Rekorderlig Cider. It wasn’t bad, but it was too sweet for me. I was honestly shocked that there was no added sugar in that one. Lime and Cucumber was pretty comparable to a gin and soda, but the cucumber flavour was a little bitter. Blood Orange and Grapefruit was my favourite of the bunch; citrusy and not too sweet.
And there you have it! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to detox my liver for a while.