White Claw is arguably the most popular hard seltzer on the market today. It’s the only brand of hard seltzer to experience a nationwide shortage (the White Claw Summer of 2019 saw several markets cleaned out of most flavors), inspire a bootleg merch market, and be the subject of countless memes and a fan base so loyal that the brand has come to represent its own athleisure-y lifestyle.
Of course, if you’re over the age of 30 there’s a high chance you just don’t get White Claw. Don’t beat yourself up about it, you probably never will.
if you’re on the fence, let us break it down. The brand — as cringeworthy as it sounds — resonates with its targeted market of Gen Z (*sigh* or Zoomers if you prefer) and the last wave of Millennials. Owned by Mark Anthony Brands, which also owns Mike’s Hard Lemonade, White Claw touts itself as a low-carb, 100 calorie, gluten-free, “naturally” flavored hard seltzer, with 5% alcohol by volume. It’s advertised with the tagline “Made Pure.” Now if that doesn’t sound like some Gen Z #brandspeak, what does?
As is often the case, the devil is in the details with all the “Made Pure” talk. The ingredients listed on the can include carbonated water, alcohol, citric acid (which is sometimes completely chemical), and natural flavors. Natural Flavors, according to the FDA, can mean anything from plant-derived essential oils to any product resulting from roasting, heating, or enzymolysis (using an enzyme to extract flavor from a natural compound). As with La Croix, we don’t know how many black cherries went into your can of White Claw Black Cherry. In fact, the drink may not even contain anything derived from an actual cherry (apple and grape are often used to mimic other fruit flavors cheaply).
White Claws are simple, an entire case costs about the same as a great cocktail at a good bar, and they aren’t nearly as heavy and don’t get you as sh*t-faced as something like a Four Loko. (Guess which oft-banned company is back to help Juggalos transition over to hard seltzer, according to CBS?)
Perhaps above all else, White Claw has succeeded because the brand is meme-worthy, meaning drinking the stuff can be approached with anything from total irony to genuine enjoyment. And, as anyone who has belted out Tom Jones on karaoke night knows, the former can quickly lead to the latter. There is nothing to get about White Claw — they just provide a very simple, affordable pleasure. Not a bad pitch when the world is burning.
Here’s a little audience breakdown:
Who Will Hate White Claw?
Cocktail snobs and people looking for a single-drink buzz. White Claws are, for better or worse, a product of their time. They’re simple, convenient, aesthetically pleasing, meme-worthy, and basic AF. They’re the fast fashion of the alcohol world. If any of that rubs you the wrong way, you’re just never going to like these.
If your poison is a three-ingredient negroni or you appreciate the timelessness of a crafted sazerac, White Claws aren’t going to win you over. Same goes for anyone who wants to get drunk quick.
Who Will Love White Claw?
Generation Z, La Croix fans, anyone young enough to not know what a Zima is and anyone looking for a light and low-calorie hassle-free alternative to beer, malt beverages, or cocktails. A White Claw is the perfect drink to have in hand for a pool or beach party, comes in a people-pleasing variety pack, and has enough flavors for everyone to have a favorite.
It’s instant gratification in a can, light enough to deserve a guilt-free second serving, and completely burnable after about 20 minutes on a treadmill. If that shit is your jam, you’ll be hyped.
Okay Already, Get To The Ranking
Since the summer of 2019, White Claw has introduced three new flavors to their line: Watermelon, Tangerine, and Lemon. As you can imagine, introducing new flavors completely changed the game, so we’ve refreshed our ranking to include them. Bring your arguments in the comments.
White Claw Ruby Grapefruit
Sorry to all the Ruby Grapefruit fans out there, but this is White Claw’s worst flavor. When popping open a can, you’ll be instantly greeted with a pleasant burst of fragrant grapefruit. The smell is shockingly natural, the sizzle of the bubbles suggests a refreshing crispness, ideal for a warm spring day.
Unfortunately, it basically tastes like nothing. Like, at all.
One of the most popular flavors of La Croix is Pamplemousse (grapefruit) and considering White Claw’s Ruby Grapefruit is just Pamplemousse + alcohol it should be, by all accounts, superior. It’s not. The flavor is completely front-loaded, it all hits you at once and it isn’t pleasant on the palate. The kick of the alcohol doesn’t do much here, it just kind of muddies the flavor of the grapefruit — making it not as refreshing as a La Croix and not as good (or effective) as grapefruit soda with a splash of gin or vodka.
The Verdict:: As bad as licking a rind. Only worse because you have 12 ozs of it to endure.
White Claw Watermelon
It took a great deal of internal debate to come to this conclusion but White Claw Watermelon is the second-worst flavor across the entire line, just barely holding an edge over Ruby Grapefruit by not having as appetizing a smell. What I’m saying is, tasting White Claw Watermelon will disappoint you, but coupled with the smell, it won’t surprise you that it’s this bad. The smell is reminiscent of watermelon Jolly Ranchers and the overly candied flavor has an unappetizing flat after taste that lingers on your palate way longer than it’s welcome.
The aftertaste is so bad that you’ll find yourself drinking more just to get a brief burst of candied watermelon to cover it up.
The Verdict: Avoid it if you can. Unless White Claw Ruby Grapefruit is your only other option, you shouldn’t pick up White Claw Watermelon. Even if you’re curious. Trust.
White Claw Natural Lime
What’s funny about White Claw’s “Natural Lime” flavor is how incredibly artificial it smells. Make no mistake, there is nothing “natural” about this drink, as soon as you pop open a can, you’ll be greeted by the familiar smell of fake-ass lime. It’s a bit like when you order a “fresh margarita“ only to find out it’s made with sweet and sour or margarita mix. Sure, it’s freshly mixed, but it isn’t exactly what you assumed when you read the word “fresh.”
The White Claw Natural Lime presents the same problem. The smell isn’t “natural” and it doesn’t taste like fresh-squeezed lime — though it certainly tastes more natural than the smell would lead you to believe.
The Verdict: Hmmm, it’s… okay! It’s hard to hate this but its also very easy not to love it. It’s not winning any White Claw doubters over, but it’s solid enough to avoid being definitively disliked. By all accounts average.
White Claw Lemon
White Claw Lemon
White Claw Lemon makes White Claw Natural Lime feel kind of redundant. The former is an improvement over the latter in every way — the taste is more subtle, it pairs better with White Claw’s alcohol base, and the scent is refreshing and less floor-cleaner-esque.
White Claw Lemon tastes less like the juice of a lemon than it does the rind, making your White Claw feel much more like straight vodka with a lemon twist than it does your average spiked lemonade, albeit much lighter.
The Verdict: Lemon over Lime.
White Claw Black Cherry
Oh, well this is awkward. Meet White Claw Black Cherry, my old favorite flavor. I don’t want to sound dramatic or anything, but White Claw Black Cherry smells of pure candied death.
I truly hate the way this flavor smells but the taste is still on freaking point, even if it’s not at the top for me anymore. It’s deep cherry flavoring pairs well with White Claw’s alcohol base and it hits the hardest of any of the flavors. It’s truly earned its designation as a “Hard Seltzer” and as a stand-alone drink.
The Verdict: The decider. If you don’t like White Claw Black Cherry, you probably just don’t like hard seltzer to begin with.
White Claw Tangerine
White Claw’s brand new Tangerine flavor is one of the best in the entire line, which is surprising because new flavor packs are often nothing more than curious after-thoughts after the buyer-base starts to tire of the same old flavors. Smell-wise, the White Claw Tangerine is shockingly close to the actual smell of a freshly peeled tangerine, and the flavor is not unlike — and this is going to sound slightly wrong — an overripe tangerine. Sure, you don’t want to experience the fermenting bitterness of an actual overripe tangerine, but in alcohol form, that bitter base with subtle fruity top notes hits the spot just right.
To kick it up a notch, mix it with your favorite gin, and enjoy a very tasty gin and soda.
The Verdict: Somebody’s favorite. While it isn’t mine, White Claw Tangerine is bound to be somebody’s favorite flavor. Trust that person for drink suggestions.
White Claw Mango
Ahh, White Claw Mango. Let me tell you a lit bit about this drink — up until the moment I first experienced the sweet kiss of White Claw Mango, I had already decided this flavor would be on the bottom of the tier. White Claw Mango was for a time, the hardest flavor to get your hands on during the great White Claw drought of Summer 2019, so when I finally tried the flavor for the first time I was salty at having to spend a day traveling to different markets to find a case.
That was then, and this is now. White Claw Mango is everywhere, and the flavor is pretty. Damn. Good. In terms of fruit, mangos just don’t do it for me. Never been a fan and if I don’t have a bottle of Tajín handy, forget it, I will pass on mango every time. But the Mango White Claw offers something that the flavors that come before it just don’t hit on as well. It’s as pleasantly aromatic as Ruby Grapefruit, as crisp and refreshing as Lemon, and just as solid a flavor combination as the Natural Lime, except it isn’t as tired formula as lime + alcohol — so it feels like something new.
The Verdict: Almost essential. If your question is why have a White Claw over any other hard seltzer? The answer is because the Mango White Claw is fire, so shut up, drink it, and stop asking dumb questions, Cousin Greg.
White Claw Raspberry
Raspberry makes Ruby Grapefruit seem completely redundant. While it’s initial aroma isn’t quite as sense-awakening and pleasing as its grapefruit sibling, in terms of flavor, balance, and bite it delivers nicely on all fronts. This flavor has a great balance of bitter and sweet notes, it’s not overly fragrant or artificial tasting, and the flavor of White Claw’s clean alcohol base cuts through to make you feel all 5% of that alcohol by volume.
It’s the most subtle of the flavors, where Natural Lime smacks your tastebuds with sour sensations, and Ruby Grapefruit travels flat and unenthusiastic across the palate, Raspberry delivers an even punch that is as refreshing as it is aromatically pleasing. The drink plays it safe with subtlety, but it’s better for it. White Claw Raspberry is a pretty good indicator of whether or not you’re into what White Claws can provide. If you try the Raspberry White Claw and fail to enjoy it, these drinks probably aren’t for you, my friend.
The Verdict: You need a case! In our original ranking, I placed White Claw Raspberry right in the middle. I was wrong. This is the tops baby. A persistent White Claw habit has opened my eyes and I see the error of my ways. White Claw Raspberry is the only flavor you need to drink.