In just a few short years, tall cans of hard seltzer have become an icon of summer fun, just as symbolic as a well-worn Frisbee or a fresh-from-the-grill burger.
But drinkers are not just sipping hard seltzer by the pool or at barbecues anymore. Between June 2019 and June 2020, the drinks category saw $2.7 billion in sales, with significant numbers during the fall and winter months, cementing its status as a year-round drink.
“Believe it or not, each year we’ve done more cases in the winter months than the prior year,” says Casey O’Neill, creator of Truly Hard Seltzer. The sales figures more than bear this out — in March 2020 alone, consumers bought more than $60 million worth of hard seltzer each week, compared to March 2019, when they purchased $13-14 million of hard seltzer a week.
If that sounds surprising, it’s probably because you first came to know hard seltzer during the media-dubbed “summer of hard seltzer,” a.k.a. summer 2019. Though hard seltzer had been commercially available in the U.S. since 2013, the category expanded vastly in 2019, with bars and shops unable to keep it in stock, memes about hard seltzer taking over social media, and publications from Grub Street to USA Today to Forbes proclaiming the boom. But while plenty of trend spotters theorized at the time about the future of hard seltzer, few of them anticipated that the category would grow faster than beer, and that the cans would continue to sell once the leaves started to fall.
Truly’s wide variety of flavors — 16 in all, including lemonade— range from the tropical, including pineapple and passion fruit, to the citrus set with orange and lime, to berries-with-a-twist creations like raspberry lime and blueberry + acai. Though every flavor can transport you back to lazy summer afternoons in the park, they’re also a great way of perking up fall and winter drinking. With gray days and an early setting sun, who doesn’t want to taste something fresh and bright?
As a year-round added benefit, O’Neill points out that consumers appreciate Truly’s sessionable 5 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) and the fact that it’s “low calorie and sessionable but still flavorful.” Health-conscious drinkers gravitate toward Truly because it’s gluten-free, with very low sugar and carbs. “It’s fun, easy-to-drink, and fits so many different occasions,” says O’Neil, “from concerts, to sporting events, to a low-key hangout with friends and more.”
THE NEW GO-TO FOR GAME DAY
While sports were once explicitly beer’s domain, hard seltzer has flourished among fans looking for a sessionable beverage that can be enjoyed throughout the course of a several-hours game, with sports leagues developing brand partnerships with hard seltzers on the same scale of those they maintain with traditional beers. “Fall is synonymous with football, and our drinkers love to enjoy Truly while watching sports,” O’Neill notes. In fact, Truly has such a following among sports lovers that it was even named the official hard seltzer of the NHL last year, proving that it’s even a fit for ice-cold arenas.
A COCKTAIL COMPANION
For many, the transition to fall often also means a switch from canned drinks outdoors to mixed drinks enjoyed indoors at cozy dinners or holiday gatherings. It’s here that Truly is a covert MVP: The hard seltzer can be used as a mixer in a wide variety of cocktails, enhancing complexity, lending some fizz for increased sippability and contributing “a little more buzz,” says O’Neill.
While Truly gives dimension to traditional summer cocktails like wine spritzers or Margaritas, it can also add depth and kick to more wintery selections. Substituting Truly for soda or tonic water in classic cocktails allows drinks to experience it in a whole new way.
Because citrus fruits, as O’Neill says, “really thrive in the winter months,” Truly’s Citrus Mix pack works especially well in winter citrus cocktails. Try upping the grapefruit quotient in a tequila-based Paloma by mixing in a can of Truly Grapefruit —and add a sprig of rosemary to bring the cocktail more into cool-weather flavors. For a richer Bourbon Smash, swap maple syrup for simple, muddle in basil leaves rather than mint, and sub Truly’s orange Hard Seltzer for the soda water. And if you’re looking to freshen up an old brunch favorite, swap in Truly Orange in place of Champagne or Prosecco for a smooth Mimosa.
Truly also can revive the punchbowl cocktail at your holiday celebrations, with a winterized version of the Moscow Mule. Sub Truly Wild Berry for ginger beer, and cranberry juice in place of lime juice, for a richer, warmer drink to sip by a crackling fire (or crackling TV show, your pick).
So there’s no reason to think that, as the days grow shorter, Truly is going the way of flip-flops or pool floats; its flavorful effervescence is in demand year-round. And that demand is only increasing. According to some industry researchers, hard seltzer sales could reach $14.5 billion annually by 2027. Which means that more and more people are discovering the pleasure of sipping a mango Truly while watching a big game, stirring up a pitcher of Truly Palomas to quaff while your family celebrates the winter holidays, or enjoying a glass of Truly while bundled up on the couch. “Flavor, refreshment and variety are the key reasons our drinkers love Truly,” says O’Neil. And there’s just no reason flavor, refreshment, and variety should be restricted to just one season.
This article is sponsored by Truly Hard Seltzer.