If you like to stay hydrated with a little bit of fizz, we’ve got six great seltzer brands that offer a fun alternative to water.
It’s hard to believe, but there was once a time where you’d stop at a grocery store or gas station and find one, maybe two types of flavored sparkling water. (Lemon, maybe, and an old-school black cherry if you were lucky.) The drinks-based world has since changed pretty dramatically: At one point, National Beverage, owners of LaCroix, had a closing stock price of 90.75 because of the drink’s burgeoning popularity. Seltzers have been having a moment for a while now, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere — and with hard seltzers making a major impact, there seems to be an endless parade of new brands and flavors to try.
But, worried that sparkling water might not be as hydrating as regular water, we asked Dr. Mark Hyman to give us some insight on these drinks’ effects on health. He explained that sparkling water is just, well, water: “Seltzer is just carbonated water. It’s water with pressurized carbon dioxide gas added, and that’s what gives it the bubbles that people enjoy so much.” And as for all those flavored options on the market, Hyman advises consumers to be warier: “There’s always the possibility of flavors and sweeteners added to any of these, so I always suggest reading the label to really know what you’re getting.”
The bottom line, according to Dr. Hyman, is that drinking seltzer is a great option for those who struggle to drink enough regular water. He’s also encouraged by its sudden rise in popularity, since that indicates more of us are trying to cut sugary sodas, juices, and other beverages out of our daily diets. (If you’re trying to cut some calories this summer, replacing your daily sugary drink with seltzer water is a great option.) Some of them even come with added caffeine, which can be a great alternative for those who avoid coffee — or only like it with a hefty dose of sugar and cream.
To help you navigate the hundreds of brands and flavors that’ve flooded the market, we rounded up some of our favorite non-alcoholic seltzers to help you curb your bubbly cravings and keep you hydrated all day long.
The Best Sparkling Water and Seltzer Brands of 2021
If you’re trying to wean yourself off of a juice or soda addiction, Spindrift is the perfect “gateway seltzer.” It’s much more flavorful than most traditional seltzers because it contains real fruit juice, but with no added sugar each can only clocks in at about 10 calories. It’s even got a hint of color for those who don’t love drinking straight from the can. All of the flavors are delicious, but if we had to choose, we recommend trying the half and half, raspberry lime, or cucumber. A pro tip for those of you mixed drinkers out there: spindrift makes a great mixer, because it’s got tons of flavor but won’t leave you with the sugary hangover of other mixed drinks.
If you’re looking for a little afternoon pick-me-up but aren’t ready to commit to yet another cup of coffee, there are now a variety of sparkling water options that come with caffeine. AHA comes in eight flavors, all of them delicious, but the citrus and green tea flavor will give you an extra jolt of energy, with 30 mg of caffeine in each can. If you’re looking for a non-caffeinated option, the lime watermelon and strawberry cucumber flavors are subtle and divine.
When it comes to sparkling water, anyone from New England will know that Polar is the original. Before there were hundreds of brands to choose from, Polar was old faithful, and we love it for that. It’s definitely more carbonated than Spindrift and even AHA, so if that’s what you’re looking for in a seltzer then this is the brand for you. We also love that you can buy it in cans or one-liter bottles, which are perfect for long days at the beach. Polar also releases fun seasonal flavors every summer— this year, be on the lookout for Tropical Cherry, Watermelon Mojito, and Pink Summer Iced Tea. They also recently released a line called Polar Seltzer’ade which might be our favorite product from them ever- they’ve got the subtle flavoring we love but come in mango, watermelon and raspberry lemonade flavors.
LaCroix is the go-to choice for many seltzer water drinkers: It’s sold in most grocery stores across the country, and there’s been a heated debate over the years as to which flavor is the best. (Are there any other coconut fans out there?!) They’ve recently expanded beyond their core product with two new lines called Cúrate and NiCola, but in our opinion there’s no reason to stray from the original. If you’re new to LaCroix, try out a variety pack and pick your favorites before committing to one flavor.
Recess is a hot new seltzer brand that claims to reduce stress with its recipe of plant extract, lemon balm, ginseng, and L‑theanine. Because it’s supposed to make you feel calm and balanced, it’s marketed as a coffee replacement. But it doesn’t have caffeine, so feel free to drink it before bedtime, if need be. This brand also strays from the more traditional seltzer flavors, via offerings like Blackberry Chai, Pomegranate Hibiscus, and Peach Ginger. Looking at the price of a 12-pack of Recess might make you spit it right back out in shock, but loyalists know it’s well worth the cost.
To be clear, Topo Chico is technically sparkling mineral water, not just plain old sparkling water, but people are such hardcore devotees that we figured it needed a shout-out. For those fans, this sparkling mineral water has no equal, and needs no added flavor to make it the very best. (Though the lime and grapefruit flavors do provide a little something extra.) Topo Chico is intensely carbonated and contains some magical mix of Mexican minerals that are sure to make you say “mmmm.”