Welcome to Fizz Biz, a summertime column where we’ll be sipping and appraising hard seltzers all season long. Know of any must-try products out there? Email us at email@example.com.
To debut a new hard seltzer into this massively oversaturated marketplace is such folly that each brand must now advertise itself based on whatever “edge” it brings over the other 5,689,023 brands out there. Sometimes that “edge” really is unique, like Flying Embers’ spicy mixtures or Kona’s Hawaiian-inspired additions such as starfruit. But instead of subverting expectations with inventive fruit flavor combinations, Drunk Fruit starts with different fruit altogether, some of which might be unfamiliar to its American consumer base. And just look at this can art. Don’t you want to see these smiling faces every time you open the fridge? I can attest to the joy it brings.
Wouldn’t these make a cute host gift? Mercifully, this product isn’t trying to look sleek and cool. It’s trying to add pep to your fridge full of try-hard products.
The brand was initially developed in 2019, as White Claw was on the rise in North America.
“Hard seltzers were making fizzy fruity drinks cool again in the US, but the fruits that we grew up with as Asian Americans were nowhere to be found,” write the four co-founders on the Drunk Fruit website. “Sharing these flavors with the world is our way of sharing a part of our heritage as Asian Americans... We’re here to celebrate Asian flavors and share the fun of our culture.”
From the get-go, this seltzer was already driven by more of a philosophy than a lot of the lemon-lime-grapefruit skinny cans flooding the market (I’ll shout it from the rooftops—give me standard 12-oz. cans!). The three varieties of Drunk Fruit are:
- Lychee, “a sweet and floral tropical fruit”
- Melon, “a silky and smooth honeydew”
- Yuzu, “a tart and earthy citrus fruit”
The flavors really are unique in the seltzer space, though they still hew to the specs consumers have come to expect: 100 calories, 0 grams of sugar, 5% ABV. The only downside here is the “zero sugar” promise, because the sugar has been replaced by my old nemesis, stevia.
Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from plant leaves, but unfortunately, it has a distinct licorice aftertaste that can coat your mouth and really ruin the experience of whatever you’re eating or drinking. The stevia backnote can make or break a seltzer, though thankfully, it’s minimal here. It’s distinct, but surmountable. That’s a testament to how excellent (and thankfully distracting to that stevia flavor) the three Asian fruit flavors are.
The Melon is my favorite, because I’m already a fan of honeydew. While honeydew is a fruit that’s widely available in the United States, it’s not commonly used as a flavor in consumer packaged goods like candies, snacks, and beverages, as it is in multiple Asian markets. This seltzer is the perfect reminder that we ought to be doing a whole lot more with honeydew. Its buttery smooth sweetness is an asset in a beverage typically associated with tart, puckery citrus flavors.
If you want to try some for yourself, Drunk Fruit ships nationwide. It’s a little expensive right now—$16 for a six-pack—but my guess is that the cost is due to limited distribution (for example, 12-packs of Bud Light Seltzer are going for $12 on sale nearby). Presumably the prices will come down as the product gains popularity. If not, I’d still say it’s worth it to give these a try. I mean, are you going to find honeydew hard seltzer at your local corner store?