How do you choose a favorite spiked seltzer2020欧洲杯积分, a beverage seemingly engineered for people who prefer to live life on a boat or in a river? "It’s like choosing the best dictator," says Victoria James, who in 2012, at the age of 21, became America’s youngest sommelier and is now the beverage director of Cote in New York City. "I grew up with white zinfandel and Zima," she admits. "The reason why these beverages are so important is because they get people introduced to the whole category of drinking. No one's first taste of booze is like Grand Cru Burgundy. Everything has its place."
We should all graduate to Grand Crus eventually, but in the meantime, there’s always White Claw. We asked James to taste test about three dozen flavors of spiked seltzers. Here are her favorites.
White Claw Natural Lime
2020欧洲杯积分In the world of spiked seltzer, Claw is king. And of the brand's six varieties, lime was the clear winner. "It’s the aromas of the flavors, but none of the actual flavors," says James. "I preferred the lime because it was the least intrusive. It has an almost Gatorade-like aftertaste. And that initial rubbery smell is nostalgic. It’s like you’re at the ball pit at McDonald's."
Crook & Marker Tangerine
Newcomer Crook & Marker, which touts its use of organic alcohol made from amaranth, millet, and quinoa, at first has a front-runner in its coconut pineapple flavor—think a Piña Colada without the calories. "It’s a winner," says James. "But the strongest is the tangerine variety. It’s actually more like mandarin oranges to me. It’s an alternative to orange soda, but a little healthier."
Wild Basin Melon Basil
This is made by Oskar Blues, a brewery best known for some very stellar beers. "Most spiked seltzers taste like artificial fruit bombs, but this has a weird savory element, like peanut or sesame oil," says James. "I wouldn’t pair most seltzers with anything, but this would be great with pad thai."
2020欧洲杯积分This, in a way, is the most all-American flavor. "Smells like Tang," says James. "I love that Emergen-C smell, because I associate it with something that I drink after a hangover that will make me well. That’s why I’m excited about this one. Even if it has a nose of Jamba Juice."
Lifted Libations Grapefruit Vodka Soda
Okay, we’re sort of cheating here. This isn't a spiked seltzer but rather a canned vodka soda—the OG spiked seltzer, if you will. "This is better as it’s a pure distillate and soda and still only has 96 calories," says James. "It has a cheap vodka aftertaste, but I almost prefer that, because it’s the enemy you know. The chemical flavorings in the others exacerbate the artificial-ness of it so much more.”
This article appears in the November '19 issue of Esquire.