Freely. Picture: Supplied
Freely. Picture: Supplied

What you need to know about the hard seltzer drinks trend

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Mar 30, 2021

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Of all the trends and shake-ups in the alcohol industry over the past few years, none have been as dramatic or as exciting as the rise of hard seltzers.

A few years ago they were almost unheard of, but then, seemingly overnight, they became cultural mainstays and a dominant force in the alcoholic beverage market.

What is a hard seltzer?

The term “seltzer is American for sparkling or soda water. So a “hard” seltzer has been spiked with alcohol and usually flavoured with fruit. Some are made with spirits such as vodka, gin or tequila. The alcoholic content differs between brands but is usually 4 – 6% – similar to beer – with a calorie content of about 100 calories per can, which is similar to light beer.

Experts who predicted the end of the trend have already been proven wrong, and the industry’s growth does not appear to be slowing down. With the way things are going, seltzers may just find a permanent place alongside beer and wine as a global drink sold in almost every bar or restaurant.

Experts reveal that hard seltzers have also positioned themselves at the nexus of convenience and health: hard seltzer appeals more equally to men and women than beer, which tends to be a male-dominated category, and they are usually cheaper than craft beer and less expensive than a mid-range bottle of wine or spirits.

Below we look at some of the brands that have jumped into the market.


Crafted by a small, independent local producer, Freely is a proudly South African sparkling water with a splash of premium distilled vodka and pure fruit taste tailor-made for living your best life. What sets it apart from other hard seltzers is its lower alcohol content (just 3%), lower calories (23 calories per 100ml), zero sugar, and, above all, premium taste. As a spirit-based drink, Freely is also gluten-free and vegan friendly, ticking all the right boxes. It is available in three flavours – zesty lime, perky peach, and a burst of wild berry.

It is available exclusively at Checkers LiquorShop countrywide.

Flying Fish seltzer

In a statement, SAB’s new ventures director, Zintle Botha, said they were delighted to bring a quality hard seltzer into the market. The 5.5% abv drink comes in a 300ml slim can with two flavour varieties – lemon and lime and raspberry. Made with water, alcohol, fine bubbles, and a dash of fruit juice – this drink delivers refreshment for any occasion.

The Flying Fish seltzer is set to hit shelves by April, and it will be available to purchase at selected Pick n Pay Liquor stores nationwide.


Vawter is the exciting new product launched by Distell. It is a unique range of spirit coolers: sparkling water with a dash of vodka and infused natural fruit flavours, ideal for everyone looking for an alternative light alcoholic beverage that offers all of the Sunday-Funday with none of the blue Monday. Vawter is low in sugar and low in alcohol content (3.5%).

The new range allows South Africans the opportunity to balance fun times with responsible choices. The range includes three deliciously fun and refreshingly light natural flavours – juicy grapefruit, refreshing cucumber and zesty lemon and lime.

Vawter is available at retailers nationwide.

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