Adapted from 60-Second Cocktails: Amazing Drinks to Make at Home in a Minute, by Joel Harrison & Neil Ridley (Princeton Architectural Press, 2022).
While the ingredients of the popular fizzy beverage are straightforward – water, sugar, yeast and flavoring – combining them into a drink is relatively complex, as Wine Enthusiast’s beer reviewer John Holl explains in detail here.
So can you DIY your own hard seltzer at home? Sort of.
This cocktail recipe, sourced from 60-Second Cocktails: Amazing Drinks to Make at Home in a Minute, a new book by Joel Harrison & Neil Ridley, debuting in October 2022, is a bit of a misnomer. To be clear, it’s not a malt beverage, as hard seltzer usually is – vodka provides the alcoholic kick. (Of note, some hard seltzers do use vodka or an agave spirit as the base alcohol.)
“Arguably one of the world’s biggest recent drinks trends, the hard seltzer is a lighter take on a sparkling water serve,” the authors say of this “dead simple” drink, which they describe as “ideal for outdoor gatherings, barbecues and picnics.”
Yet, while this cocktail isn’t technically a hard seltzer, it shares many of the same characteristics: refreshing effervescence, relatively low sugar and caloric content, and fruit flavor, in this case, from a dollop of fruit preserves.
Another hallmark of hard seltzer is that it tends to have low-alcohol levels. While it’s hard to argue that any vodka drink is low-abv, the ratio of this drink – 5 parts sparkling water to 1 part vodka (with some additional dilution from stirring with ice) – brings the overall level down to around 5% alcohol by volume, which is roughly comparable to that of most hard seltzers. (Of course, you can always choose to make your drink stiffer, if preferred, but then you’re steering into vodka soda territory.)
We also like that this drink is customizable, and can be made with ingredients that are easy to find in most kitchens. So if you don’t have a pack of your preferred hard seltzer on hand, it’s easy to adapt this hard seltzer-inspired recipe to feature whatever preserves are available in your pantry.
Add the vodka and preserve of your choice in a highball glass and stir with a bar spoon until you have a smooth consistency.
Add enough ice to fill the glass.
Add sparkling water and stir vigorously for a few seconds, until thoroughly mixed.
Give the basil leaf (if using) a gentle slap between your palms to release the aroma and place on top of the ice to garnish, or just add the cucumber slice.