We’ve given in. We thought maybe the hard seltzer trend would fade away like so many before it, but it’s here to stay, and brands are still jumping on left and right. Among the sea of White Claws and NÜTRLs and hard Topo Chicos, a new trend is emerging, one we can get behind. Some fast food chains are now adding alcohol to their beloved signature drinks for us to enjoy (and get buzzed off) at home—and those that aren’t should be.
Sonic first released its hard seltzers in 2021, capitalizing on the popularity of the chain’s unique limeades and slushies. At the time, the cans were released in just seven markets, according to PR sent to The Takeout, but earlier this year they expanded distribution to 21 states. A quick search of availability in Chicago shows that you can find these on several liquor and grocery store shelves.
The hard seltzers come in eight Sonic drink flavors:
- Cherry Limeade
- Classic Lemonade
- Lemon Berry
- Mango Guava
- Melon Medley
- Ocean Water
- Original Limeade
- Orange Pineapple
More recently, Sonic has also released a line of Hard Slush, alcoholic packets that you can freeze to recreate the chain’s slushies in Blue Raspberry, Cherry Limeade, and Watermelon.
Taco Bell and MTN Dew followed suit last year with an alcoholic version of Baja Blast. While these cans aren’t specifically Taco Bell branded, they’re yet another example of how a fast food-born flavor can easily translate to a ready-to-drink hard beverage. It’s time other chains followed suit.
Now that we’ve seen that not only can these fast food branded hard seltzers be successful enough for Sonic to expand its alcoholic footprint (and now that we’ve succumbed to the idea that the hard seltzer trend is never ending), there’s no reason other major brands can’t do the same.
Sure, it’s easy to booze up some of these things yourself—we’d sooner add our own helping of Kaluha to a Wendy’s Frosty than try to drink it out of a can. But several fast food chains have beloved drinks that can only be purchased within that chain, ones that deserve their own “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” makeover to stock the fridge at home:
- Chipotle Agua Fresca. This is basically already a virgin margarita, not to mention the chain itself serves booze in stores so must have a pre-existing relationship with brands that could make this happen. Just add tequila, can, and serve.
- McDonald’s Hi-C Orange Lavaburst. There’s something that just makes a McDonald’s Hi-C taste different. Throw a little vodka in the mix and you’ve got yourself a ready-to-drink cocktail that hits the nostalgia notes as well.
- Raising Cane’s Lemonade and Sweet Tea. The chain already lets you bring a jug of this stuff home, so why not a sixpack with a little bourbon thrown in for that true Southern taste?
- Starbucks Refresher. Starbucks is already firmly in the grocery, RTD market, so why not move some product over to the liquor shelves. This could be like a sophisticated Four Loko.
Until these brands get on board, we’ll stick to the Sonic Hard Seltzers to get our at-home, fast food buzz. We predict it’s only a matter of time until more classic chains find their way to the grocery store liquor aisle.