I’m a man who likes a good beer or three, especially when the weather has warmed up and refreshment is requisite. (I’m also a man who likes a good beer or three when the weather has cooled down and a bracer beckons.) But a fellah can’t spend the entire spring, summer, and early fall sipping beer. Sometimes we need a cool, tasty beverage without the ABV, whether because we have a drive ahead of us, kids to watch over, or maybe we’ve already had two beers and a cocktail and some wine and it’s time to ease back for a bit. Or maybe it’s 10 a.m. on a Wednesday.
Whatever the circumstances may be, sometimes it’s sublime to sip a sweet, cold soda. If you get a hankering for sparkling sweetness, don’t guzzle down some calorie- and chemical-glutted concoction churned out at thousands of gallons a minute by nefarious multinational conglomerates. Instead, try one (or all) of these five delicious, semi-healthy artisanal sodas and spend your summer enjoying flavors more complex and satisfying than you knew could be achieved by a beverage that won’t get you buzzed. Also, some of these are probably great spiked with vodka, but that’s, like, totally not the point here, guys.
Blue Sky Soda
Blue Sky Sodas aren’t low-calorie or low-sugar, let’s just get that out of the way right now What they are, however, is made entirely with natural and/or organic ingredients, and they come in classic flavors like Root Beer, Cola, and Lemon Lime, as well as in more exciting varieties like Black Cherry or Cherry Vanilla. If you want a full-flavored soda that’s about as healthy as something can get while still packing in nearly 40 grams of sugar, then trust this company, which has been dedicated to natural ingredients for the whole of its existence (that dates back to 1971). Also, when you order in bulk, Blue Sky Sodas are pretty cheap, which is always a plus.
DRY Sparkling sodas are made with just four ingredients: carbonated water, natural flavors, cane sugar, and phosphoric acid. But don’t worry too much, said acid isn’t a crazy chemical preservative, it simply provides a tangy taste. (H3PO4 isn’t great for teeth, though, so do brush, sir.) DRY Sparkling sodas have a light, almost delicate flavor that makes them immensely quaffable. I’ve sucked down 12-ounce bottles in just three gulps many times (seriously, I have), and of all the many varieties of DRY Sparkling soda I’ve tried, I’ve found only one I don’t like: Cucumber. But I don’t like cucumbers much, so that’s that. As for Vanilla Bean, Lavender, Fuji Apple, Watermelon, and Blood Orange? They’re all delectable. And all between 45 and 70 calories too. I’ve yet to sample their Juniper or Rhubarb flavors, but hey, the warm weather is hardly upon us yet anyway. You can also buy these bad boys in bulk.
Zevia Zero Calorie Soda
Zevia Zero Calorie Sodas have — drumroll — no calories. If they did, then the company would have chosen a horrible name, right? The sweetness of these calorie- and sugar-free sparkling beverages comes from stevia, the sweet extract extracted from the leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant. Stevia is not only a fine substitute for sugar in terms of flavor, but it also has no impact on your blood sugar levels, making this a good drink for people with diabetes or other issues (or as a suitable refreshment after a workout when you really should be having water and salts, not sugar, but man doesn’t a soda sound great?). Zevia comes in more than a dozen different flavors, so you can keep on sipping guilt-free until your fine a favorite.
Reed’s Original Ginger Beer
Unlike so many ginger ales or ginger beers out there, Reed’s Original Ginger Beer isn’t flavored with a lot of additives and chemicals, but rather with a lot of … ginger. In fact, there are 17 grams of ginger in each and every bottle of this sweet and spicy soda, making it too intense for some people, but just perfect for others (meaning me). Sweetened with all-natural cane sugar, this OG Jamaican-style soda isn’t as low-cal as others on our list, but it’s a slow-sipping soda if ever there was one, so you’ll probably only have one a day at most anyway. And if you do want to use a ginger beer to make a cocktail, such as the oh-so popular Moscow mule, this is the one to use. You can easily find the original brew online and in many stores.
IZZE Sparkling Juice
IZZE Sparkling Juice tows the line between a soda and a juice. Instead of being flavored and sweetened carbonated water, as most sodas are, it’s mostly juice with some added fizz thanks to a “splash of sparkling water.” Each can has lots of flavor and only 90 calories, but they’re only 8.4 ounces each, so the calorie count isn’t wildly low here. You’re getting those calories from actual fruit juice, though, including grapefruit juice, clementine juice, and blackberry juice, so at least you can trust that the ingredients aren’t bad for you. Also, you can get a 24-can variety pack for $16 on Amazon, so you can go ahead and slurp them back without worrying about bankruptcy.