Use fruit juice to salvage subpar seltzer

Not wild about the can you just cracked open? Don’t pour it down the sink. Fix it instead.

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Bottle of cherry juice, can of cherry hard seltzer, and a glass of the two over ice
Cherry juice and hard seltzer come together over ice for punch with extra punch.
Photo: Marnie Shure

When Dennis Lee shared the recipe for three-ingredient copycat Dole Whip on The Takeout this spring, I knew I had to try it. Cool Whip, pineapple juice, and frozen pineapple were quickly procured, and after just a few minutes of blending, the recipe turned out to be exactly as light, fluffy, and delicious as promised. But because canned pineapple juice was only sold in six-packs at the grocery store, I had a lot of leftover juice. What to do with it?

Drinking it plain over ice was just a touch too sugary-sweet for me, a person who would rather chew on her sugar rather than sip it. But for reasons both personal (a growing intolerance of wine) and professional (check out Fizz Biz every Friday!), Summer 2021 has been the season of hard seltzer at my house. And one recent afternoon, I cracked open a truly intolerable seltzer.

It was from Coors, a brand whose line of hard seltzers I otherwise enjoy. The black cherry is fine, the lemon lime is great, the mango is meh, but the grapefruit... I didn’t know it was possible to mangle grapefruit flavor so badly. It was a sickly, perfumey mess, so ungrapefruitlike that I assumed some sort of labeling mixup on the can. Not so: all the grapefruits in the variety pack tasted equally of sunscreen.

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Desperate for an intense, concentrated flavor to drown out the aftertaste of the grapefruit, I quickly grabbed a can of pineapple juice from the fridge. It worked so well that I combined the contents of the miniature juice can and the remaining Coors—approximately a 60/40 ratio of seltzer to juice. The mixture was delicious. The sugar in the juice beat back the horrendous flavor compounds roiling inside the Coors can. Instead of having to dump the offending seltzer down the sink (and make my drain smell like SPF 30), I now enjoyed the satisfaction of using up not one but two items in my fridge.

It worked even better with the mango flavor. My fridge is littered with neglected cans of mango seltzer from various brands’ variety packs; it’s just never the flavor I want out of a beverage when I could be enjoying a slice of the genuine article. But adding just a splash of pineapple juice to the can took away the slightly metallic backnote of low-sugar mango flavoring and added a refreshing tartness, resulting in a drink that was a lot like a mimosa without the promise of a headache.

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And you can go beyond pineapple juice, too, of course. I bought a bottle of Bing cherry juice on a recent trip to Michigan, which pairs well with lime seltzer (note that a little of this juice goes a long way). Orange juice also plays nice with some of the flavored seltzer varieties, but the assertive, pulpy flavor means you have to choose your can wisely. Something like Truly’s Citrus Squeeze is a no-brainer here.

In the past I’ve tinkered with adding spirits like vodka to cans of LaCroix for a bubbly party drink. Adding fruit juice to hard seltzer is sort of the flipside of that approach, and I like this reverse method better. Sure, it’s more sugar than a typical can of hard seltzer, but way less than, say, Mike’s Hard Lemonade or a whiskey and Coke. So go forth and experiment—and let us know if there are delicious combos we’re missing out on!