Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

This Asian-Inspired Hard Seltzer Brand is Supporting the AAPI Community

Hold your White Claw, there’s a new seltzer show in town. Lunar is bringing Asian-inspired drinks to the scene, and supporting AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) causes en route.

In a crowded field otherwise known as hard seltzer, Lunar is operating differently. The brand is keenly focused on Asian ingredients, especially radiant fruits like yuzu and lychee. The lineup is strong, refreshing, and session-able, as everything clocks in at a sub-5% ABV level. Better still, the flavors really pop, unlike so many seltzer producers that seem to be after the buzz first and foremost, and the flavor and balance somewhere down the line.

Related Reading

Meet Founders Sean Ro and Kevin Wong

The brand launched in 2019, just after a fateful hangout in New York. Founders Sean Ro and Kevin Wong were out on the town and capped the evening with some Korean fried chicken at a favorite neighborhood spot. For libations, it was the usual short list of Big Beer offerings and not much else. Yawn.

“The impetus for the brand was that we ultimately did not see anything on the menu that we saw ourselves in,” Ro says. It’s all part of a hyphenated identity and Ro and Wong, along with many other AAPI’s experience. As Ro says, it’s the “funny in-between-ness and cultural duality” his community faces, “that we awkwardly neither fit in back in Asia for being too American nor in America as minorities,” he says.

Meanwhile, Crazy Rich Asians was storming the global box office. K-Pop, J-Pop, and more had made their way into American speakers. Americans were sipping bubble tea and the ever-shifting culinary angles were trending towards Filipino cuisine especially. So, why not an RTD canned seltzer — one that could stir up some sorely-needed representation?

Dubbed Asian Americana in a can, Lunar is after the tastes the owners grew up with. Ro and Wong source ingredients from all over Asia, some so unfamiliar to the American system that just getting them approved renders them unavailable. For example, the duo looked to bring in winter melon (Wong’s go-to boba flavor and the backbone of a soup with meatballs he grew up with) but Ro says the FDA needed to study it for two years because nobody had tried to use it in an alcoholic beverage before.

“There is absolutely no shortage of Asian fruits and flavors on our radar,” Ro says. “Including but not limited to Asian pear, persimmon, or calamansi, just to name a few.” Unlike a lot of hard seltzers, Lunar goes with a sugar base and builds atop that. The result is relatively unique and immensely drinkable, on their own or in tandem with any number of dishes, from soup dumplings to Pad Thai.

While seltzer remains a largely Millennial thing, the Lunar team has been getting good feedback from older drinkers. Wong says they used Sean’s mother as a gauge for the plum seltzer, ultimately earning the approval of her fastidious palate. “Once we got the okay from her, we knew it was good to go,” he says, adding that a lot of older people like them so much they don’t even realize there’s alcohol involved.

Of course, Lunar’s rise has come almost entirely during the pandemic. And not just any pandemic, one that has alienated minorities, especially AAPI members. Asian hate has become its own awful pandemic, much of it unfolding right here in the states. Just about every news cycle, there’s another gut-wrenching viral video of an AAPI being beaten or verbally assaulted. Wong says Sean’s girlfriend was assaulted recently, just paces from her home. “As many in our community has already said, enough is enough,” he adds.

Lunar Supports AAPI Brands

Lunar is offering support by giving back to its community. It happens in a multitude of of ways, from playing hype-man for fellow AAPI brands to speaking out against racism. “Since the beginning of the lunar New Year, we’ve been supporting and effectively highlighting a different non-profit every month,” Ro says. The last four months have seen the brand support Send Chinatown Love, Hate is a Virus, Cafe Maddy Cab, and Apex for Youth. “Quote frankly, given our mission and the impetus for Lunar, everything we do is in some way in support of the AAPI community,” Ro says.

The brand’s philosophy is more holistic when it comes to philanthropy and backing just causes. “What is essential is that brands have a deeply meaningful, genuine, and honorable purpose,” Ro says. “Giving back to the community then is simply an organic byproduct of said purpose.” He adds that it’s about cutting though the noise and establishing real connection, emotionally, but perhaps more importantly, from a humanity standpoint.

How You Can Support

The seltzer brand has a range of new products coming up, including a forthcoming heritage line, inspired by travels to Thailand. It came from a meeting last winter where Wong reminisced about the amazing mango with chilis he enjoyed from street vendors while abroad. “We decided to launch a new product line that really pushes the boundaries of hard seltzer and RTDs by embodying deeply authentic and culinary elements of our heritage,” Ro says. He adds that this kind of thing is so often miscategorized as “exotic.”

The new line involved collaborations with NYC establishments like Taiwanese eatery 886 and Vietnamese joint Di An Di. The flavors, pineapple cake and tamarind rice paddy herb, are unlike anything in the sprawling drinks category. Perhaps in bringing something so deeply reflective to the table, more will follow suit, can in hand.

Show Now

This feature is part of our Brands Giving Back Series, where we’ll bring you all the latest news on brands that are giving back to the community, and how you can support them by shopping online.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
You can now get this Michelin-quality beef delivered to your home
Herd & Grace delivers high-quality Australian beef to the comfort of your home.
Herd&Grace tomahawk steak on board.

Cape Grim Grass Fed Tomahawk Ribeye.

While America might be infamous for its red meat culture of steaks, burgers, and world-class Texas brisket, it's not the only country with amazing beef. With their vast landscapes and pristine environments, Australia and Tasmania produce some of the highest-quality beef and lamb in the world — and with a different ecosystem and a unique method of cattle rearing, Australian beef is in a league of its own.

Read more
Learn these amazing spring cooking tricks from a Michelin Star chef
Spring is an exciting time but we don't always know what to cook this time of year. Here are some expert ideas
Chef Vikas Khanna

Spring is an exciting time for eaters. More and more fresh produce shows up at the market and store and the days begin to beg for lunches at the park and evening dinner parties. But it's not always simple to know what's in season and how to maximize flavors during these months that guide us toward summer.

One thing we do know is that we love a good spring cocktail, like a Cherry Blossom Sour, during the spring season. There are more spring fruits and vegetables to work with than you might think, and the warmer weather thaws the soul.

Read more
It’s time to learn about bourbon — here’s your guide
Put down the IPA and meet the actual coolest drink in town — bourbon
Boubon in a glass

Hello class, and welcome to Bourbon 101. Don't worry; we're not like those other schools where you aren't allowed to drink during class. We're cool. Now, get your notebooks and a glass of whiskey ready because it's time to dive into the history of this America's spirit.

It would be hard to find something more American than bourbon, except for maybe a bald eagle draped in an American flag with a baseball and an apple pie clutched in its talons. In any case, the history of bourbon follows the highs and lows of our country as a whole with good times, great times, and really bad times. It was built with ingenuity in a time of great hardship and flourished despite the best efforts of outside forces.
What exactly is bourbon?
It's time to dive into a little American history here. Look, even if you weren't a fan of history class, this is a pretty fun subject. In case you're unaware, bourbon is highly regulated by the government in nearly every way (and that's a good thing). To be legally called "bourbon," there are several rules that need to be followed:

Read more