Head over to the beverage sections in a grocery store and you’re going to see a lot of seltzers. Why? And what exactly are seltzers? There are four types of sparkling drinks (not counting soda pop): club soda, tonic, sparkling mineral water, and seltzer. Club soda is the most similar to seltzer, but it has added minerals like sodium citrate and sodium bicarbonate. Tonic is the only sparkling drink that has calories because it contains sugar, which also gives it a sweeter taste. Sparkling mineral water contains lots of minerals like sodium, magnesium, and potassium, which occur naturally in the water thanks to layers of rock and sediment. The fizziness is often added later. As for seltzer, it’s simply regular water with carbon dioxide added. People rarely buy seltzer in this form, however, and go for brands with all kinds of flavors added. That’s why there are so many choices.
What’s the best seltzer? It’s subjective, but Real Simple conducted an extensive taste test and gave their opinion. Here’s what they liked:
- Schweppes raspberry lime – nice balance of sweet and sour
- Polar lime – not too sweet, and very refreshing
- Boylan lemon – nice natural flavor
- La Croix tangerine – natural, juicy flavor
If you like more unique flavors, companies are constantly adding new fruits to their roster, like blood orange lemonade and starfruit lemonade (both from Polar) and strawberry watermelon (from Vintage Seltzer).
There are even alcoholic seltzers, like the ones advertised during the Superbowl by Bon and Viv Spiked Seltzer. Lots of people use seltzer to mix cocktails, but having seltzer already with some booze makes it even easier. They’re a great way to relax if you don’t love beer or wine, and want something a bit lighter and more refreshing. Bon and Viv includes unique flavors like blackberry rosemary and clementine hibiscus, both with 0 grams of sugar. Other brands with high marks: Svedka and White Claw. Smirnoff even makes a spiked seltzer. When buying, you should know that the alcohol content can vary from 4.2% all the way up to 6%. Some taste very fruity and are much sweeter than beer, so it can be easy to drink too much before you know it. As with all alcohol, drink responsibly.
How to use seltzer
What can you do with seltzer besides drink it plain? There are a lot of ways to enhance this refreshing soda alternative. Try adding fruit, herbs (like mint) and spices (like ginger) to boost the flavor. If you still need more flavor, add a little fresh juice. It will add some sugar and calories, but if you trying to cut out soft drinks, this modified seltzer is still much healthier. You can also add chia seeds to make homemade aqua fresca, an iconic drink in Mexico and Central America. The chia seeds become plump and gelatinous, and add protein, fiber, and omega-3. If you want to turn your regular seltzer into something boozy, replace the regular tonic water in your favorite cocktail. Seltzer are great with gin, vodka, and white wine. For ideas, simply google “seltzer cocktail recipes,” and you’ll be directed to pages like this list of 12 drinks from the Daily Burn.
Sipping some spiked seltzer and feeling…different? Alcohol has a unique effect on the body and your emotions. Click here to learn exactly how.