Welcome to Fizz Biz, a column all about the best hard seltzers. Know of any must-try products out there? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While people might squabble over the relative merits of LaCroix versus Spindrift versus Bubly, Topo Chico, the elder statesman of the sparkling water category, seems to exist outside the debate entirely. It is the uncontested king of seltzer, and since its 2017 acquisition by Coca-Cola took it mainstream nationwide, the internet has tried to decode its particular and undeniable appeal. “It’s been here long before the zero-calorie flavored-water craze, and it will remain long after,” writes Emily Johnson at Epicurious. And in 2021, for the first time since the brand’s inception in 1895, the product has been spiked. How does it taste?
Well, that depends on the vessel. At first, Topo Chico Hard Seltzer debuted in an aluminum slim can, just like Truly and White Claw and all the rest—but that seemed a bit far afield from the glass bottle that sets Topo Chico apart and contributes to its superior fizz. So, just this week, Topo Chico announced that it will acquiesce to fans’ demands and debut the hard stuff in a glass bottle for the first time. We at The Takeout were lucky enough to taste the revamped seltzer for ourselves.
As we’ve experienced with Stone Brewing’s Buenavida, a glass bottle alters the hard-seltzer-sipping experience in all the best ways. It’s more fun to hold, the liquid inside has a different quality of fizziness, and the departure from a slim can makes the beverage feel more crafted, somehow, like you’re drinking a good beer. Topo Chico was right to make the pivot to glass, even though it only did so with one of its four flavors: the Strawberry Guava, which the company claims is a fan favorite.
Unfortunately, all the sleekness in the world won’t save Topo Chico Hard Seltzer from its lackluster fruit flavors. The smell of strawberries wafting up out of a freshly opened bottle smells like Strawberry Laffy Taffy, and the taste of the low-sugar sweetness in each sip is nearly as plastic. By the time you get halfway through the bottle, your palate has adapted to the faux-sweet notes, but drinking a hard Topo Chico never achieves the heights that drinking a regular bottle of the soft stuff does. There’s too much engineering at play here, too much tinkering with a classic to manufacture trendiness. I’ll continue happily drinking the original, and simply adding a splash of gin whenever I want to make it feel 15% more like a party.