THURSDAY, Aug. 8 — Hard seltzer has dominated the competition to become this summer’s biggest drinking fad. While the drink isn’t entirely new, hard seltzer’s explosion in popularity is exposing many to it for the first time.
Brands like White Claw — imagine a fruity-flavored alcoholic version of your favorite Perrier or LaCroix — have since crept their way into Lansing’s bars and onto prominent display shelves in Meijer.
White Claw, a popular hard seltzer, is owned by Mark Anthony Brands, the same company behind Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and distributed by Anheuser-Busch. Hard seltzer's alcoholic content is not vodka or any other liquor — it's a gluten-free alcohol base, as described here by bevlaw.com.
Several Michigan breweries have launched their own version of the product, and local bars’ Facebook event pages even boast they’ll serve hard seltzer at their karaoke or trivia nights.
Stober’s bartender Alexa Springsteen confirmed the drink doesn’t live a long life contained inside a cooler.
“It’s super popular; we go through White Claws like crazy. People love them,” Springsteen said. “They’re big with women — they’re 100 calories, gluten-free and you can’t taste the alcohol. But if you drink a six-pack of them you get a solid buzz.”
There are no pretentions about hard seltzer’s place in the bar. “It’s just a can. It’s not labor-intensive. We don’t mind serving it at all,” Springsteen said. She also mentioned that Stober’s has taken to serving a hard seltzer on draft, produced by Perrin Brewing Co., based in Comstock Park.
LeRoy’s Bar manager Joe Cardwell noted his place was ahead of the curve, stocking the drink since its release. “We’ve had White Claw for three years — ever since it came out. It’s trendy now, but it isn’t new here,” he said.
The Unicorn Lounge, purchased and renovated by The Gillespie Group in 2017, poked fun at the trend via Facebook. Adorning a photo of White Claw cans reads the caption:
“The most fru-fru drink we will ever have and even though it’s uncomfortable for us, we know you like it. Come on through on this #WhiteClawWednesday and drink up!”
After receiving some ribbing in the comments, the Unicorn Facebook account responded with an apology:
“This post was meant to have a fun, sarcastic tone to it. We know our regulars love them, our staff loves them, and therefore we like them, too, and wanted to bring them in house so we could cheers together.”
Feelings on hard seltzer were mixed among the bar staff at The Avenue Café.
“First time having one, my buddy was helping me move and said, ‘I’ve got these two mangoes.’ So I was like, ‘Okay let’s try the thing.’ I tried the thing and I loved it,” bar manager Thomas Peloquin said.
Peloquin said he “hated the fact” that he loves White Claw, as he prefers to serve patrons properly mixed and poured cocktails. But Peloquin’s co-worker Jay Scofield has no problem with the ease of serving a White Claw, which he called a “cocktail in a can.”
“When we run out of White Claw, I mix flavored vodka in club soda. It’s basically the same, it’s just easier,” Scofield said.