The Shockingly Delicious New Drink I Will Crush All Summer

Finally, the best-ever non-alcoholic bar order comes in a can.

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June 20, 2019

Bitters and soda should be everyone's go-to non-alcoholic drink of choice. Bracingly herbaceous and aromatic when crafted correctly, it is the kind of not-too-sweet drink you can chug all night, without ruining your appetite or overpowering a meal. It's also a bartender go-to that often yields nods of insider-y approval.

Last summer, when I was pregnant, bitters and soda was my trusty stand-in for rosé, negronis and spritzes. It tastes grown up and nuanced, without needing booze. The combo is so good, I traveled with a bottle of bitters, and installed a SodaStream at my desk. Mortifyingly, my picnic tote would clang with carafes of soda water and the little bitters vial, alerting everyone to my every waddling move. Never again!

Because New York City-based Hella Cocktail Co. has figured out a way to turn the fizzy non-alcoholic elixir into a highly guzzle-worthy canned drink that goes down all too quickly and easily. They debuted two versions — Dry and Spritz — meant to be mixed into drinks or crushed on their own, depending on your mood and tolerance for bitterness.

At first sip, it tastes like they simply — if ingeniously — combined bitters and soda in a can, but to actually nail the right flavor balance, the team experimented with 67 (!!!!) different variations, seeking to perfect the flavor profile and nail the lingering spice notes for each combo. That is a lot of different versions of bitters and soda, friends. Their mission was to nail what co-founder Tobin Ludwig calls a flavor that “is deep and has a long tail, but is decidedly bitter.” As they tested each version, their bar was to make it “shockingly delicious.” Consider me shocked.

The two options balance each other nicely. The Spritz is just sweet enough and ideal for jazzing up rosé with a squeeze of lemon. The Dry, which I plan to keep on hand at all times, has no sugar at all, making it unapologetically savory and sippable, especially at just 5 calories per can. I first found these at a coffee shop near my apartment, and now grab two at a time. Depending on your penchant for morning bitterness, the coffee shop even combines Dry with espresso for a brilliantly bitter soda that tastes like the hell-raising cousin to chai.

Pack them in your picnic cooler and let your summer drinking dreams run rampant, whether you’re crushing as-is, updating the notorious Aperol Spritz or adding them to your spirit of choice — co-founder Eddie Simeon loves a whiskey highball using Dry.

Regardless of how you plan to drink it, this summer, let’s all agree to be bitter.

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