At this point, you're either extremely sick of people droning on about the virtues of LaCroix or you're currently double-fisting some Pamplemousse at your desk. If you're reading this, you probably fall in the latter camp (the rest of you stopped giving a LaCrap about the wunderwater a while ago).
But despite all the hype, it's important to realize there are other sparkling waters out there. They're all waiting for LaCroix's effervescent bubble to burst and open the door for a new trendy, semi-flavored sparkle-water du jour. Each of the eight fizzy brands below has a legitimate chance to win even the staunchest LaCroixalist over. Go on. It's fun to try new things!
Pros: Highly stylized aesthetic; probably the most "organic" flavored sparkling water out there; pulp Cons: New kid on the (seltzer) block; might be trying too hard; pulp
Spindrift touts itself as the only sparkling water made with real squeezed fruit, which explains the light pulp in every can and bottle. This seltzer comes in sweetened and unsweetened varieties, and heavily plays up its all-natural branch-to-can/bottle ethos. Founder Bill Creelman started making sparkling beverages to help him kick his Diet Coke habit, then decided the rest of the world might like them too. It's aggressively au naturel and named for the whitewash of a breaking wave. All this is either right up your alley… or a little too much. In the end, with intriguing flavors like blackberry, cucumber, and the outstanding watermelon, Spindrift presents a worthy opponent to LaCroix. Hell, they even kind of look the same.
Pros: Has foreign appeal and a big cult following; fun to say out loud Cons: Only comes in one flavor
This one might register on the hipster Richter scale due only to the irony of importing water from Mexico -- but it has more going for it than kitsch. The bubbly mineral water that was first bottled in 1895 has been a favorite for battling the oppressive heat and making fizzy cocktails for decades in Texas. It's pretty much the de facto beverage of choice for cooling off overheated Lone Star Staters. The NY Times estimated that sales of the drink (almost exclusively sold stateside in Texas) leaped almost 83% in the early '10s. It's "cool," it's popular, and it's actually pretty damn refreshing and smooth. But the NY Times did write about it… so it's probably already hit its peak hipness.
Pros: It's an OG. Cons: It's an OG… so there's a good chance you've tried it and still like LaCroix better.
While not the oldest sparkling water on this list, Vintage is -- aptly -- the most dated. It looks straight out of your Great Aunt Martha's garage fridge. But if LaCroix can break out of the aisles of suburban supermarkets and into the arms of hipsters after decades of stagnancy, there's no reason Vintage can't follow suit. Vintage has all the basic flavors -- lime, wild cherry, coconut -- and it's a model of consistency for sparkling waters. It's more bubbly than LaCroix… and most flavors come off a little sharper and more tart. Vintage was introduced in the '80s as "the original New York seltzer" and it carries clout among sparkling water fans as a cheap, legit alternative to any trendtastic beverage that might run the market. It's certainly not flashy, though, which is exactly the kind of no-bullshit crap hipsters love to latch onto and cover with bullshit. So this one could go either way. Fans of Vintage, you might want to keep all this on the DL, lest you live to see your unpretentious beverage of choice paired with man buns and cable-knits for the next half-decade.
Pros: Rugged, outdoorsy vibe; long-standing pedigree in the New York area; white chocolate flavor Cons: Kind of boring; limited to the New York area
Adirondack has some serious cred among seltzer fans as a more basic alternative to the flash and all-of-a-sudden glamour of LaCroix. The brand is famous for its super-weird but somehow delicious white chocolate flavor that continues to stun water drinkers and scientists alike. Founded as a cola brand in 1967, Adirondack bottled its first liter of seltzer in 1984. Since then, sparkling water flavors like mandarin orange and wildberry have eclipsed the cola. Adirondack is all substance and very little style. It might be better than other seltzer brands, but it may not have the brand appeal needed to overthrow LaCroix. It's very Ron Swanson, which is very 2013. But it tastes great. Especially the white chocolate, which we like to imagine was Ron Swanson's nickname in high school.
Hal's New York Seltzer Water
Pros: Excellent taste; really embraces its roots as a true New York seltzer brand Cons: Maybe you hate New York
If you've shopped for seltzer in New York City, you've probably seen the aisles lined with a kaleidoscopic array of Hal's. This is NYC-bred through and through, and it takes a tremendous amount of pride in that (just look at the website). The flavors -- vanilla and black cherry especially -- are particularly potent for straight-up sparkling water, as if somebody zapped the flavor out of Cherry or Vanilla Coke. It's super-refreshing and not at all subtle. With a solid taste profile and the whole "NYC" branding thing (people love New York -- except people from Chicago, LA, San Francisco, and Philadelphia), it's not too difficult to picture Hal's garnering nationwide attention sometime soon.
Pros: Very fresh-tasting; comes in a thick glass bottle Cons: That thick glass bottle can be kind of cumbersome.
Taken from a "secret" spring nestled in the heart of Arkansas' Ouachita Mountains, Mountain Valley has that same outdoorsy vibe that Adirondack captures. But it has a little more tact and a little less of a "grandpa's log cabin" vibe. The sparkling mineral water only comes in two additional flavors (lime and black pomegranate) but they are really, really fresh-tasting. Aside from its minimal flavor options, the only drawback here is the big ol' glass container it comes in… which is probably part of the reason it tastes so good, so it's a double-edged sword. Still, it's not hard to picture the masses giving Mountain Valley trend-points BECAUSE of the glass container, so what the hell do I know?
Pros: Only 10 calories per bottle; very simple ingredients; subtle flavoring Cons: Maybe too subtle for some people
Pronounced "Izzy" -- named after co-founder Todd Woloson's daughter -- this sparkling water prides itself on simplicity. Right now, IZZE is staking its claim in an obviously saturated market by scaling things back. These bottles have 10 calories and just a splash of organic sugar in lightly carbonated water. Izze keeps things simple with just three flavors -- blackberry pear, raspberry watermelon, and Mandarin lime -- and makes LaCroix seem aggressively flavored by comparison. That can be a big draw or major detraction, depending on your preference. But it is damn refreshing… and if you need extra flavor, their sparkling juice line is fantastic.
Q Club Superior
Pros: Svelte, Champagne-esque packaging; an amazing mixer Cons: Technically it's a club soda.
OK, so one club soda had to make the list. You probably don't know the difference anyway. The point is, Q Club may be tasty enough, may be bougie enough, may be different enough to make a dent in LaCroix's stranglehold on the sparkling market. Despite being an unflavored club soda, it has a weird fruit-like undertone. Combined with its fancy-schmancy (but not really) aesthetic and the fact that it uses "as much carbonation as the bottle will hold" and adds "a few grains of Himalayan salt for extra suppleness," that makes this a bubbly club soda a contender. And no club soda has ever been a contender for anything ever before.
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