Great news for health-conscious drinkers, America’s hottest beverage trend, the hard seltzer has finally arrived in South Africa thanks to Savage Sparkle. Essentially, flavoured sparkling water with alcohol, hard seltzers are low in calories and carbohydrates, letting you have your cake and eat it too when you feel like letting your hair down on the weekend. Offering alcohol that is ‘better for you’ Savage Sparkles is a South African born brand with a mission to bring a healthier alternative to the local alcoholic drinks market.
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.
That’s where hard seltzers and Savage Sparkles comes in. The low-carb, low-cal alcoholic beverage has become big business in the US and UK as more and more consumers are turning to health-conscious alcoholic drinks to suit their lifestyle. Also referred to as hard water, Hard Seltzer is an alcoholic beverage containing carbonated water, alcohol, and often fruit flavouring. The alcohol is usually made by using fermented cane sugar but can also be either a malt or spirit alcohol.
After seven years in the US working in the alcohol beverage industry, Savage Sparkles co-founder Jono Marcus returned to South Africa to find that there were no local iterations of America’s super-successful hard seltzer drinks. Recognising the opportunity to bring this exciting product to South Africa, Marcus teamed up with Marika Graves in May 2019 to produce Africa’s first hard seltzer, and Savage Sparkles was born.
Born out of a desire to offer something different to the South African alcoholic beverage market with drinks that are ‘better for you’, Savage Sparkles is a healthier alternative to ciders, beers, and alcopops or spirit coolers. 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 brand officially launched in March this year with two flavours — Passion Fruit and Lemon & Lime. I got the chance to try both flavours and was super impressed. Crisp, clean and refreshing with a bitter fruit twist, the Lemon & Lime flavour was my favourite of the two. It’s best served iced cold and a great alternative to a G&T as you still get that bitter ‘tonic water’ tang that most people love about a G&T. The taste is subtle but still tart and sour enough to satisfy bitter lemon and tonic water lovers.
While a little too sweet for my taste, the Passion Fruit flavour will most definitely appeal to those who love sweeter spirit cooler-style drinks like Bacardi Breezer. While the Passion Fruit flavour has a subtle sweetness it’s sure to appeal to those who love fruity wines, sweet apple ciders, and spirit coolers. I love that they have these two options to appeal to different tastes so there’s an option for everyone to enjoy around the braai.
Packaged in easily recyclable cans, Savage Sparkle drinks are also friendlier to the environment. What’s more, the brand is all about ‘Drinking for a Cause’, with fifty cents of every can sold being donated to a registered NPO. “From day one of this business, we both wanted to build a company with a purpose. A company with a ‘giving’ culture and one that not only measures the value we create for shareholders but also the value we create for our community,” explains Marcus.
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.