The hard seltzer aisle is overflowing, but not every can deserves a spot in your cooler.
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Hard Seltzers
Credit: Jennifer Causey

If you've spent time with another human over the course of the past few summers, you've probably come into contact with a hard seltzer. The appeal has layers: They tend to be relatively low in alcohol, live in park, picnic, and boat-friendly canned packaging, and perhaps most importantly, come in flavors and carbonation levels that easily cater to cider, beer, and soda lovers alike. While there's constant innovation in the hard seltzer space, there are also cans that haven't earned the right to live in your cooler—we tasted as many as we could get our hands on. Here are eight brands we recommend.

AMASS Sun Sign

Master distiller and AMASS founder Morgan McLachlan knows a thing or two about a sessionable, no-to-low alcohol beverage. Sun Sign is like a Creamsicle in a can, without being overly sweet. It's mandarin-forward with a pleasing vanilla finish, the sophisticated pastel green packaging doesn't hurt either. $55 for 12 pack at amass.com

Owl's Brew English Breakfast Lemon and Lime

There are quite a few boozy teas on the market, but few preserve the essence of well-brewed, satisfying cuppa as well as Owl's Brew. This offering has all the appeal of a classic Arnold Palmer with balanced lime zest, making it perfect for an earlier in the day drink. $17 for variety 6 pack at theowlsbrew.com

Sonic Lemonade

The fast food chain's new hard seltzer line, in flavors inspired by their beloved slushes, is not to be missed. Our favorite flavor is the Classic Lemonade. Somewhere between a frozen lemon pop and a bottle of Orangina, Lemonade is the best of Sonic's broad hard seltzer portfolio, and pairs especially nicely with a sprig of mint, if you're feeling fancy. $19 for 12 pack at drizly.com

Austin Eastciders Peach Spiked Seltzer

We enjoyed several of Austin Eastciders' seltzer offerings, but the peach hits the perfect balance between earthy, tart, and juicy. At 4.2% ABV, it's on the lowest end of the booze spectrum even for spiked seltzers, which makes it ideal for hot summer days when hydration is still a priority. $12 for 6 pack at drizly.com

Willie's Superbrew More-jito Real Limes + Mint

After a slew of sweet, fruit-forward seltzers, Willie's Superbrew's More-jito Real Limes + Mint brought us back to life. Like a mojito without cloying sweetness, I was immediately transported to warm weather and tropical breezes. Though the herbaceousness of fresh mint can be tricky to maintain in a canned beverage, Willie's use of real ingredients and whole fruit make this drink shine. $20 for variety 12 pack at drizly.com

Vervet Pale Mary

Bring on brunch! Vervet's fizzy take on a classic Bloody Mary gets top marks. Its likeness to the complex tomato cocktail is uncanny; celery on the nose, a lingering habanero pepperiness, and a ripe tomato flavor that hits both sweet and savory. The canned craft cocktail gets its distinctive flavors from small-batch, handmade ingredients. While the slim, tall can is the iconic vessel, try pouring the Pale Mary over some ice for a low ABV spritz perfect for the AM. $22 for 4 pack, drinkvervet.com

Ranch Rider Tequila Paloma

Straight out of Texas, Ranch Rider has mastered flavorful seltzers that are not overly sweet. Sharp grapefruit, lime, and orange bring the classic Paloma flavors to this Tequila seltzer. The addition of sea salt is totally key to adding a savory, mouthwatering finish that leaves you wanting more. Grab one (or six) and head to your nearest beach; this seltzer is a gateway to a good day. $14 for 4, ranchriderspirits.com

High Noon Grapefruit

With a juicy balance of fruit and a hint of bitterness, High Noon has nailed packing the flavors and aromas of fresh grapefruit into a 12oz can. While High Noon's seltzers were impressive across the board, the Grapefruit's puckery punch made it a clear Food & Wine-favorite during our tasting. $11 for 4 at drizly.com