Sparkling water is polarizing. There’s a divide between those who love or hate it, and a bigger divide between which brand you stay loyal to. With new brands being introduced faster than we can drink a pack of LaCroix, the sparkling water market is anyone’s game. With a mix of old classics and new innovators, Street puts seltzer to the test, tasting for crispness, flavor, and overall freshness.

Vintage Seltzer

Unfortunately, this one was doomed from the start. After letting it chill in the fridge for about an hour or so, I opened it only to have the bottle explode, drenching my shirt and kitchen. After taking my first sip, it became evident that this bottle’s tumultuous nature was tied to bad taste. It doesn’t go down smooth and slightly burns the throat. Even though the packaging is pretty, this seltzer is a no from me. 



San Pellegrino

While crisp, refined, and pretty to look at, it had been a while since I had some Pellegrino. It was an amazing experience after my disappointing encounter with Vintage. It went down smooth and tasted like a quintessential sparkling water—slightly carbonated, but not overwhelmingly so, and without any taste of the packaging. In short, San Pellegrino is a timeless classic.



La Croix

While there’s a seemingly endless list of LaCroix flavors, I went with the classic lemon. Despite my initial distaste for LaCroix at first sip all those years ago, this experience was slightly surprising. While not as smooth as the Pellegrino, the flavor was pleasant, with a whisper of lemon, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as the Vintage Seltzer. 



Recess

When I read about Recess and saw the packaging, I just knew I had to order their starter pack. Recess infuses their sparkling water with hemp oil and l–theanine—the compound that’s in matcha. With ingredients like these, the fledging beverage brand claims its products help you stay calm, cool, collected, and simultaneously energetic. At $5 a can it isn’t cheap, but if it managed to live up to the expectations it set and taste good, then it would be worth it. 

With the sampler comes two cans of each flavor they make: Blackberry Chai, Peach Ginger, and Pomegranate Hibiscus. Seeing as it’s low in calories and sugar, it’s probably closer to a guilt–free soda. Nonetheless, it was tasty, with a carbonation level that hovered above a gentle fizz. Blackberry Chai had a subtle kick, while the Peach Ginger and Pomegranate Hibiscus varieties were more sweet. 

However, the hemp flavor creates a potent aftertaste, which might be a turn–off. My  mouth felt coated in hemp after finishing, distracting me from the initial bursts of vibrant flavors. Yes, the hemp is part of the gimmick, but it’s totally overpowering for a beverage that’s being marketed as sparkling water.



Spindrift

With Elle Magazine claiming that “the internet has turned its back on LaCroix” in favor of this brand, I knew Spindrift had to be included on the list. While Spindrift also has a plethora of flavors, I tried the classic grapefruit because I’m a sucker for good packaging. While Spindrift does contain calories and small amounts of sugar, it is less soda–like than Recess. The grapefruit flavor is present, but not overpowering, and hits the right sweet notes. Ultimately, I can see why people are flocking to Spindrift over LaCroix, but with so many options, I still don’t get the cult following.



Sparkling water is definitely all about preference, but San Pellegrino takes the top spot in my book. With subtle bubbles and no bizarre aftertaste, my experiences with it were overwhelmingly positive. 


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