Great news for health-conscious drinkers, America’s hottest beverage trend, the hard seltzer has arrived in South Africa. It’s been a slow burn here in the republic; with the first hard seltzer arriving on local shelves in September last year. But, recently the trend has gone into overdrive and now there are loads of hard seltzer options for consumers to choose from.
What is hard seltzer?
A hard seltzer is flavoured sparkling water spiked with alcohol. The soda water drink, with a kick, is low in calories and carbohydrates, and there are even some lower alcohol options available too. Offering a healthier alternative to the local alcoholic drinks market, hard seltzers are popular with drinkers who are watching their calorie intake. They also offer a convenient pre-mixed drink option for anyone who loves a classic vodka soda.
While many South Africans are choosing to live a healthier lifestyle by ditching processed sugar and eating a low-carb diet, when it comes to the weekends or after-work drinks, there aren’t many healthier options out there for those who still want to enjoy a drink without all the empty calories. Popular favourites like a classic G&T pack a whopping 18g of sugar per glass while most refreshing ciders have almost 24g of sugar. Similarly, the WHO’s daily recommended allowance for sugar is just 25 grams. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that those few drinks after work aren’t doing you any favours.
Best hard seltzers available in South Africa:
If you’re keen to get a taste of this trend here are our picks for the best hard seltzers available in South Africa. From small independent producers to big-name manufactures, you’re bound to love one of these locally made options:
Savage Sparkles is a South African born brand with a mission to bring a healthier alternative to the local alcoholic drinks market. One of the first hard seltzers to hit the local market, this spiked delicious sparkling water is the ideal summer and winter sipper.
Savage Sparkles is a 5% alcohol beverage with only 3g of sugar, 3g of carbs and 100 calories in every 300ml can – all this without compromising on taste! The drink comes in two flavours — Passion Fruit and Lemon & Lime.
Read our full review of Savage Sparkles here. Savage Sparkles is currently available at select outlets in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape. It’s also available to order online here at R125 for a 6-pack.
Freely is the latest new zero sugar, low alcohol hard seltzer to hit South African liquor store shelves. Crafted by a small, independent local producer, Freely is a proudly South African sparkling water with a splash of premium distilled vodka and pure fruit taste. The drink is available in three refreshing flavours – zesty Lime, perky Peach and a burst of Wild Berry.
What sets Freely apart from other hard seltzers, is its lower alcohol content (just 3%), lower calories (23 kilocalories per 100ml), and zero sugar recipe. As a spirit-based drink, Freely is also gluten-free and vegan friendly, ticking all the right boxes for health-conscious drinkers.
From the dynamic duo that brought the first-ever alcoholic frozen popsicles to the South African market comes a range of canned, all-natural spiked sparkling waters.
Blended with purified sparkling water, infused with natural flavours, and sweetened with fructose, Frost Sparkles is available in two flavours — Mixed Berry, and Pineapple & Coconut. With 5% alcohol content, the low-calorie drink is a great choice for health-conscious drinkers. Each can contains under 90KJ per 300ml can, making it the perfect alternative to sugary ciders and alcopop drinks.
Recognising hard seltzers as a growing trend in South Africa, Distell has thrown its hat into the ring with the launch of Vawter. This range of soda water spirit coolers is made with a dash of vodka and infused natural fruit flavours. Vawter is low in sugar and low in alcohol content (3.5%).
The range includes three deliciously fun and refreshingly light natural flavours — juicy Grapefruit, refreshing Cucumber and zesty Lemon and Lime.
Flying Fish Seltzer
SAB has also announced that it will be bringing a hard seltzer into the market under the Flying Fish brand. The 5.5% abv drink comes in a 300ml slim can with two flavour varieties — Lemon & Lime and Raspberry. The drink contains 0.5g sugar per 100ml and 35 calories per 100ml. By comparison, 100ml of Flying Fish beer contains 5.6g of sugar and double the calorie count.
Made with water, alcohol, fine bubbles, and a dash of fruit juice, this drink delivers refreshment for any occasion. The Flying Fish seltzer hit South African shelves in April.
Rock Hopper Hard Seltzer
Breaking new ground in the South African refreshment sector with its fresh, fruity, spiked water that’s all fun and no fuss, Rock Hopper Seltzer was one of the first hard seltzers to hit the market in South Africa.
Low-calorie, low-carb, and gluten-free, without losing its 5% let’s-party kick, this spiked soda water is a firm favourite with many health-conscious drinkers. Rock Hopper offers four flavours that capture the best of summer — Black Cherry, Litchi, Lemon Lime, and Mango.
Dragon Hard Seltzer
After much success with Fiery Dragon alcoholic ginger beer, local producer, Distillers Union is back with yet another innovation — Dragon Hard Seltzer. The spiked sparkling water with a hint of fruit flavour offers 5% ABV, 100 calories per bottle, and only 2g sugar per 100ml. The drink is flavoured with natural flavours and has no preservatives, just pure refreshment. It’s also gluten-free and low-carb.
Available in a range of flavours, including Lemon & Lime, Cherry, Watermelon, and Seville Orange. The drink is available in both 330ml cans, for easy drinking on the go, and in stylish 330ml bottles.
With a myriad of hard seltzers on the market, it takes a lot for a newcomer to truly stand out, but Skinny seltzer has managed to do just that with its trio of gin, vodka, and tequila hard seltzer options aimed at wellness-minded drinkers. While some hard seltzers are loaded with additional sweeteners and flavourings, the Skinny range boasts a low-calorie trio with zero added sugar. All three flavours in the range are also free from artificial flavourings, and colourants, making it the premium choice amidst the noise.
The range switches things up with three, 4% alcohol seltzers, each with a twist: The flagship Skinny B — the internationally celebrated mix of vodka, lime and soda with only 77 calories; the Skinny M — a crisp mix of tequila, lime and soda with 79 calories, and the Skinny G — a refreshing alternative to a classic G&T, featuring gin, lime and soda with 77 calories. Find the 300ml cans at a stockist near you now.
Pura Buzz entered the South African market from makers of the ‘better-for-you soft drink, Pura Soda. It sets itself apart by being one of the only hard seltzer currently on the local market with a rum base. There are three 3% alcohol flavour options in 300ml cans — Pineapple & Coconut; Lemon, Lime & Mint; as well as Watermelon & Mint.
Each flavour has three grams of sugar and 110 calories per 300ml can, all made with 100% natural ingredients, with no preservatives or colourants.
Proudly produced in Cape Town by the company that brews Jack Black beer, Southfields takes its inspiration from Cape Town’s ‘deep south.’ The range includes three flavours; Pineapple & Coconut; Watermelon & Mint, and Lemon, Lime & Mint, with a splash of rum.
Made from spiked sparkling water with a hint of natural flavour, both offer a light, clean taste and have just two grams of sugar and 100 calories per 300ml can.
After years of working as an Editor and writer for popular websites like Joburg’s Darling, Cape Town’s Darling and Joburg.co.za, Crystal left her sanity and an established career in lifestyle journalism behind to follow her dream of creating a website for the intellectual and discerning woman. Today she spends her time chasing the thrill of being the first to know about ‘the next big thing’. She’ll try anything once and has been known to put her body, hair and health on the line – all in the name of research.