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Does the World Really Need Alcoholic Water?!?

hard seltzer

Earlier this week, I was at the library (aka Total Wine) doing some “research”, and I passed a display of Pura Still Alcoholic Water. I’ve been seeing this stuff more and more often. First, it was all the bubbly booze water (which is everywhere right now), and now it’s still booze water.

I think I must be in the wrong demographic for this stuff, because I do not understand this craze.

I understand alcohol. And I understand water. I do not understand alcoholic-water.

Well, back that train up. I understand it from an economic/business point of view. The flavored seltzer water category (think La Croix) is big in the United States. HUGE. Americans bought more than 821 million gallons of the stuff last year, with sales totaling $2.7 billion. Hard seltzers are the adult version of that category. And a huge and growing category, at that. According to Nielsen, the hard seltzer category grew about 169% in 2018 to roughly $488 million. I suppose spiked still water is the next logical jump-on-the-bandwagon business step.

So, who is the targeted spiked water customer? The best description I’ve read so far is this: Young, mostly female, health conscious, and “basic” (the Lu-Lu Lemon, Kardashian watching, Starbucks pumpkin spice latte crowd). Me? I’m middle-aged, female, and health sort-of-conscious. I loathe pumpkin spice latte, I buy my workout clothes at Marshall’s, and I’m only vaguely aware of what a Kardashian is. Aside from ticking the female box, I’m all wrong for this stuff.

According to the website, Pura Still contains 90 calories and 2 grams of carbohydrates per 11.2 ounce bottle. It’s made from some kind of “proprietary triple-filtered malt alcohol base” and doesn’t contain any liquor. The alcohol comes in at 4.5% (so about like a light beer).

Pure Still is made with coconut water and a “splash of flavor” (unsure what particular splash). The official ingredient list is: purified water, malt alcohol base, cane sugar, citric acid, natural flavors, coconut water powder, sodium benzoate (to preserve flavor). Wait. Coconut water powder is a thing?!?

Total Wine had single bottles available, so I invested $2.99 for a bottle of the splash-o-mango flavored Pura Still to see what this is all about. I mean, how bad could it be?

Disclaimer: I don’t like flavored water, still or bubbly. I love water (still or bubbly) with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime. Ditto fresh cucumbers. But lemon/lime/cucumber flavored water is gross. And I’m not a La Croix fan, either. I had a brief fling with the Pampelmousse (grapefruit) flavor of La Croix a while back, but honestly, I think I just liked saying Pampelmousse.

So what’s it taste like? Not much. It wasn’t God-awful or anything, it just wasn’t really, well, anything. It tasted like very, very mildly flavored water with a slight, rubbing alcohol finish. I let my teenage daughter taste it (I actually thought she might like it) and her response was, “Eew, no.”

And then I got to thinking about the calorie angle. And you know what else comes in the ballpark of 90 calories per serving? (Calorie figures from National Institutes of Health).

A glass 5-ounce glass of Champagne = 105 calories (1 gram of carbs)
A 1.5-ounce shot of bourbon = 98 calories (0 carbs)
A 12-ounce bottle of Miller Lite = 95 calories at 4.2% ABV (3.2 grams of carbs)

I still can’t figure out why I need this (or the bubbly version of spiked water) when I can enjoy a glass of Champagne. Or a shot of deliciously complex bourbon over ice. Sooooooo much more satisfying.


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