Over the last five years, we in the United States have witnessed a few category booms. Take, for instance, the rise of seltzers-based alcoholic drinks, such as Truly or White Claw. I think we can agree that the last thing we needed was more of those options in the liquor store.
Then and rather recently we’ve witnessed a new category emerge known as the Ready-to-Drink (RTD) cocktails. These are typically pre-mixed cocktails in a can that contain an alcoholic spirit such as vodka or tequila. This new category showed up a couple years ago and is quickly becoming the favorite in coolers across the country.
Today, thanks to a unique marketplace here in Minnesota, hemp-derived THC beverages are exploding across the state. With the recent changes in regulation, you can now buy your favorite infused drink at liquor stores, grocery stores, restaurants, and even at the spa or gym. In fact, Minnesota alone has an identified 8,000-plus retail locations that could sell and serve. That’s more than all the legal marijuana dispensaries in North America! Well, with wide availability comes a wide selection.
One of the most common trends has been the THC-infused seltzer. A low- to no-calorie option that carries similar characteristics to the alcohol-based seltzers listed above. They tend to have shallower flavor profiles and a higher content of artificial flavors and carbonation. A refreshing, low-calorie way to take the edge off, but not likely something you’ll want more than one of in a sitting.
Another option and one that has seemingly less traction is the still beverages that are not carbonated and are largely used to mix with other beverages, similar to a mix in the traditional cocktail sense. This seems to have fallen behind due to its less than ready-to-drink nature when it comes to grabbing something quick when looking to high-drate. (Get it? High…)
The one we landed on was the THC-infused tonics. These beverages carry a lower concentration of carbonation and have much deeper flavor profiles. One of our favorites was Crooked Beverage’s Berry Hibiscus Tonic. They also have a Strawberry Basil and Blood Orange option. The company prides itself on using all-natural ingredients, such as real fruit purees, and just a little cane sugar to sweeten the drink to a refreshing, standalone yumminess that is hard to beat.
Tonics do carry a calorie payload but still far less than any of its alcohol counterparts. We have been able to locate these and other options at most mainstream liquor stores and restaurants. Additionally, some, such as Crooked, offer their products direct to consumers via an online store with free delivery across the state.
We wanted to break down the differences between the types of drinks to help you navigate this ever-changing and growing option next time you are walking the isles at your favorite liquor store.
Seltzer: This one’s simple. Seltzer is water that has been carbonated with carbon dioxide. It is available plain, as well as in a variety of citrus flavors. The crisp, clean taste is appreciated by those looking for the one-and-done.
Soda-based: Club soda is similar to seltzer in terms of added carbonation; however, it has a slightly saltier taste, which comes from additional ingredients like potassium bicarbonate or potassium sulfate.
Tonic: The only thing tonic water and the other bubbles have in common is the bubbles themselves; tonic is more like soda than it is water. It’s the only one of the group that actually contains calories and is typically sweetened with sugar. Most ready-to-drink tonic options contain fruit juices and bolster a true refreshing taste for any occasion.
So there you have it. Not all THC drinks are seltzers. They are not created equal, and rest assured they are a growing category in your local grocery, c-store, liquor store, and on menus at your favorite restaurants. To learn more about our latest blind tasting, check out the results located at Crookedbeverage.com/tasting-results.