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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lots of hard seltzers want to woo consumers away from White Claw by… being White Claw. And that approach certainly works, depending on what their price point is—look to Coors Hard Seltzer as the perfect example (and we’ll be talking about Coors in just a few weeks’ time). Flying Embers, meanwhile, occupies an altogether different space in the landscape of summer sippers. For one thing, it costs a few bucks more than your standard spiked seltzer 12-pack. But the price isn’t the determining factor between Flying Embers and the many White Claw–adjacent products on the market. It’s just a totally different aura that hovers around this stuff, and it seems made for different drinking occasions than the rest.
This product, from the makers of Flying Embers hard kombucha, is a seltzer that truly (heh heh) elevates the form. The flavor lineup is the real differentiator, seemingly catering to partygoers seeking flavors beyond citrus to slake their thirst.
There are two variety packs you can buy: the Fruit & Flora Botanical Collection (containing Clementine Hibiscus, Black Cherry Rose, and Passionfruit Elderflower) or the Sweet & Heat Tropical Collection (containing Watermelon Chili, Guava Jalapeno, and Pineapple Cayenne). It’s a suite of flavors that feels purposeful, not just chosen from the Flavored Malt Beverage Industry bingo card. Not only that, but the flavors deliver what they promise: the jalapeno is actually peppery, the hibiscus is actually floral. It’s a sophisticated fizzy drink that organically becomes a conversation piece among guests—in fact, the biggest bummer was that my friends and I, sitting outside at a reasonable distance from one another, couldn’t swap sips of each flavor as we would have in a pre-pandemic context.
Worst flavor: Black Cherry Rose. Black Cherry is already the flavor that, in my experience, tastes universally disappointing across all hard seltzer brands, because it can’t replicate the signature juiciness of cherries without added fruit juice. The rose flavor (floral, delicate) just pulls it all back toward fizzy water’s bland center, making this can feel like a push-pull that leads us nowhere.
Best flavor: Watermelon Chili. I took a sip, it went down the wrong pipe, and it felt exactly like I’d inhaled fresh ground pepper. That’s commitment, Flying Embers!
If you’re not crazy about the major seltzer brands, you might be hesitant to shell out more money on a product you think is lackluster. I would encourage you to try one of these variety packs just to see how much more interesting a hard seltzer can be, because this is the collection that first managed to get me to stop yawning in the presence of flavored malt beverages. Split the cost with your friends and host a group taste test, and then the price tag doesn’t seem so steep. If you end up hating this stuff, then you might really just not be a seltzer person. But at least now you’ll know!
Open-minded buddies, a deck outfitted with Target’s finest patio accent furniture, a fresh batch of lightly salted stovetop popcorn, a playlist full of the most sophisticated tracks you’ve heard on TikTok lately. And maybe a backup case of beer, for the cautious skeptics.