Yum(ish): American Airlines’ New Hard Seltzer

Filed Under: American

Even though my trip reports may not make it look that way, I’m generally not a big drinker. Yes, when I fly internationally I enjoy a glass or three of champagne, and if I go out to a restaurant on a weekend (or after an especially bad day of comments on the blog) 😉 I might have a single drink.

If I do drink at restaurants, I’m pretty consistent with my orders:

  • If I have wine, I prefer a glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc (Cloudy Bay is great, but to be honest I rarely come across an NZ sauv blanc that I don’t like)
  • My cocktail of choice is a very dirty vodka martini

On that note, I don’t drink on domestic American Airlines flights. I refuse to drink their wine, as their white wine choice is usually some sort of cougar juice (aka buttery chardonnay). I guess I could have a vodka soda or something, but I don’t.

Fortunately American Airlines has added a new alcoholic drink to their lineup, which I’m quite a fan of.

Starting February 1, 2020, American Airlines is stocking Truly Hard Seltzer on all flights. They’ve been stocking it on some flights since January 1, 2020, though up until this morning none of my flights had it.

My 9AM flight today finally had it, so I ordered one (don’t judge… I got up at 1AM due to jetlag, so it’s basically happy hour at this point). It’s complimentary in premium cabins, and is available for purchase in economy.

For those of you who have no clue what hard seltzer is (hi, non-millennials!), it’s basically flavored sparkling water with alcohol.

At the moment American Airlines seems to be serving the wild berry flavor (hopefully they rotate flavors over time), and a 12 ounce can has just 100 calories.

Truly would have us believe that this is basically the healthiest drink imaginable:

Truly Hard Seltzer is pure and clean. It contains no gluten, liquor or spirits. The alcohol (ABV 5%) comes from fermenting all natural cane sugar. Each of our styles has hints of fruit for a delicious flavor and clean finish.

In fairness, I totally recognize it probably has a bunch of fake flavors and other stuff. But I don’t really care. It has alcohol, it tastes half decent, and it only has 100 calories. That’s more than I can say about most other alcoholic drinks.

Besides, if I drink enough of it I can close my eyes and pretend that I’m on Delta!

Well done, American! Now just get me a cold brew and avocado toast so you can really corner the millennial market. On second thought, don’t get me avocado toast

  1. Truly tastes 110x better than the overrated, over-instagrammed trash that is White Claw. Don’t @ me.

    Nothing like taking a 12 pack of Truly Citrus up to the pool on a sunny Saturday in Miami.

  2. Ben —

    Legit question. If the service were good, for domestic first flying, would you pick AA over Delta if they were equally priced? You often say that overall Delta is better, but in your individual trip reports you’ve mentioned that Delta has worse legroom, (somewhat) slower WiFi, and (somewhat) worse food. Even if AA service wasn’t great, on a sub 3-4 hour flight are these things more important to you than the friendliness of the flight attendants?

  3. Love it. “It contains no … liquor or spirits. The alcohol (ABV 5%) comes from fermenting all natural cane sugar.” That sure is much healthier alcohol than the one in liquor or spirits, which comes from fermenting potatoes, grapes, grain, or…. cane sugar. Advertisement for the dumb, it has a big market.

  4. “For those of you who have no clue what hard seltzer is (hi, non-millennials!), it’s basically flavored sparkling water with alcohol.”

    Millenials go all in on re-branding of wine coolers as “hard seltzer.” Advertising still works. News at 11.

  5. It’s interesting to see nutritional information on an alcoholic beverage. Since alcohol is its own macro it seems like the only thing making up that 100 calories is 2g of Carbs and less than 1g of Sugar.

  6. One of the reasons I love gin & tonic is that a cheapo supermarket gin is all you need for a fabulous drink (Gordons, Beefeater, it really doesn’t matter) — so fabulous that, sometimes, it is absolutely the best taste in the whole world. Damn right.

    And cheapo airlines almost always stock good basic gin.

    Pro tip: avoid all fancy gins unless you are prepared for bitter (sic) disappointment. Especially the stupid flowery ones. Keep it simple.

  7. Appreciate the update
    Flavored Hard seltzer (yawn) cheap yet trendy
    God forbid American had an ounce of class they might actually offer Perrier,Pelligrino etc
    Instead I have been served Crystal Geyser which turned up trace amounts of arsenic in it back in an older Consumer Reports issue when it was tested
    Can just imagine what is in their cheap vile food they serve?

    I avoid flying them as they wouldn’t know premium if it hit them right in the face
    Then of course there is that world crass customer service
    and 500k one way awards for such excellence and reward for your loyalty lol
    I booked Delta One to LHR in business for under 50k one way and ten dollars in taxes yesterday and BA back in their new A350
    My 20 plus years with AA is over!! Buh Bye! End of off topic rant :):)

  8. @ The nice Paul: Agreed, gin and tonic is a fantastic drink and works perfectly fine with standard supermarket-quality ingredients.

  9. Hard seltzers like Truly are fermented. Liquors like vodka are distilled. So there is a difference, but not sure if that makes one healthier than the other.

    Hard seltzers are aimed at the vodka/soda crowd, but with a few advantages.
    – Since it’s only fermented, legally it’s a beer and can be sold under that license, in venues or locales where liquor is not allowed.
    – It’s a consistent 5%, whereas a bartender may mix a cocktail to be stronger or weaker.
    – It comes in a can, so it’s more convenient and portable than a cocktail would be.

    But that said, none of these would seem to apply on a plane. AA has the liquor license, the cocktail strength is consistent since they come from minis, and you’re not leaving your seat with your drink. So while more choices are better than fewer, I’m not sure how big a deal this one is.

  10. For those millennials that think everything is new, the Get X crowd knew these as Zima’s. The Boomer Crowd knew these and Bartles and Jaymes in the 80’s.

    Many were drunk in Fern Bars during Happy Hours, while Boz Scaggs played in the background….

  11. That being said, I can see these hard seltzers (with citrus flavor) being great in a Vodka and Seltzer. With a lime.

  12. I’ve never heard anyone distinguish between alcohol and liquor before. I’ll grant them this is probably acceptable verbiage, but is a single person going to purchase this because it is claiming that it “contains no gluten, liquor or spirits. The alcohol (ABV 5%) comes from fermenting all natural cane sugar”?

  13. @The nice Paul – In as much as I agree that a G&T can be great, I can’t stand cheap gin. That said, a lot of American gin and vodka are horrible, seems to be corn related. Tanqueray ten, Hendricks, Monkey 47 or Ableforth’s are all decent gins. Australia has some surprisingly good gins too. If there’s only cheap gins, I’d go for a vodka tonic instead.

  14. Thanks for the update on the rollout. I tried to order one of these last week based off a promotion in the seatback pamphlet. The FA had no idea what I was talking about and looked at me like I had two heads.

  15. I thought you were a G&T guy, not a martini man. And ugh. Hard Seltzer. To each their own, but seriously what is the appeal? I bet this trend will eventually dwindle down.

  16. These and similar beverages are fermented and not distilled to get a lower tax rate (at least in the US).
    Even though the same result could be achieved by combining spirits with carbonated water.

  17. I really don’t understand the appeal of having an other wise normal beverage made ‘hard’. Of course, as others have pointed out, every generation has it’s alcohol for people that don’t like traditional alcoholic beverages. I’d rather see airlines up their beer selection but I guess they’d rather cater to the basic girl market.

  18. @Ben – LOL and great comment!

    “Besides, if I drink enough of it I can close my eyes and pretend that I’m on Delta!”

  19. @TLS
    “a lot of American gin and vodka are horrible”

    Well, quite. Just as good Scotch only comes from, er, Scotchland, proper gin is English. Gin made anywhere else ain’t right, so of course it will taste vile. The brands I listed are cheapo/ supermarket English brands.

    Sorry to go all nationalistic but my people have so very few things we can boast about. Gin is one of them. (Though the Spanish are now better at serving it than us. If only they’d ditch the lime and stick with lemon…)

  20. I like it too, but tasting notes for NZ Sauv Blanc often refer to notes of cat urine.

    I was really impressed to see Tito’s on my last AA flight, glad to see they are reaching a bit higher these days…

  21. I WISH American Airlines served any decent Chardonnay on their flights… I have been flying them, mostly first class domestic since 1988, and I have NEVER had any Chardonnay that actually tasted like the real thing. Cheap screw top crap. These sparkling seltzers will be a great improvement!

  22. Cougar juice – lol. I’m stealing that one. We have the exact same taste in wine. Even went to NZ for this reason specifically. Loved visiting Cloudy Bay in person.

  23. @Sally: Not sure if I would call vodka the cougar juice of liquors. To me Dylan Moran summed up my feelings about vodka: “Vodka is a very deceptive drink, because you drink it and you think, “What is this? This is pointless! It’s – you can’t taste it, you can’t smell it… Why did we waste our money on this, bloody – why are we on a traffic island?”

  24. I do like Truly.. but just As a mixer for my vodka.. next AA flight I’ll be ordering one can of Truly and 4 Tito minis..

  25. @swag
    “Hard seltzers like Truly are fermented. Liquors like vodka are distilled.” Distillation concentrates the alcohol. Yet it is still the product of fermentation in vodka like everywhere else…

  26. I have to agree with @The nice Paul on this one. Why not just go with G&T, which I thought you liked, anyway? AA uses Bombay Sapphire, which makes a perfectly acceptable drink.

  27. @Klaus

    Whilst you are right, that the tag line is nonsense, there is no proven benefit to a fermented drink; unfortunately you are also inaccurate, Spirits are not all fermented, they are distilled, (some spirits are fermented first and then distilled, but that’s not the point )- what sets Spirts apart from Wine, Beer, Cider, Perry, Mead etc, is the distillation to create alcohol as opposed to fermentation.
    Distillation and fermentation are totally different processes.
    Someone with a severe yeast allergy may need to avoid the fermented drinks, and someone with fora imbalances might benefit from the fermented drinks, but for a normal healthy adult, neither fermented alcohol or distilled alcohol is better than one other.

    On another note, what’s wrong with mixing flavoured sparkling water with vodka? That’s how mixed drinks have been done for about a century, this premix nonsense is stupid.

  28. @K4: That’s not correct. Consumable alcohol is always created by fermentation. Distillation does not create alcohol. It is a process that reduces the water content, and thus increases the concentration of alcohol in a drink. But all the alcohol was created in the fermentation, not the distillation.

  29. Huge swathes of the world have no idea what seltzer is let alone what hard seltzer is.

    It’s not a ‘non-millennial’ thing not to know what it is and to be honest it’s an unnecessary throw away insult to a huge chunk of your readership who aren’t millennials

  30. “if I drink enough of it I can close my eyes and pretend that I’m on Delta!“

    This one made my day.

  31. I guess Truly is millenials’ answer to wine coolers. A stupid fad that will be thankfully over in a year or two.

    @swag: “the cocktail strength is consistent since they come from minis” – heh, right. The absolute best way to begin a domestic first class mid-con is with a G&T with 2 minis. And maybe a booster halfway through. Nothing like alcohol-induced stupor to numb one to the overall awfulness of domestic F.

    I am most certainly not going to drink 4 cans of Truly (what a moronic name) to get the same effect.

  32. I find it interesting that Lucky will criticize Cougar Juice but remarks on his love of NZ sauv blanc. It’s an insipid, awful swill reminiscent of cat urine, grass clippings, and pineapple juice. My best friend is wine manager of a well-known Chicago steakhouse and it’s no secret that sauv blanc gets a guy judged way more than chardonnay. Pinot blanc from Alsace? Sure. White burgundy? Love it. Croatian or Italian Malvasia? Even better. But NZ sauv blanc? Blech… NZ sauv blanc is the new Yellow Tail.

  33. @Claus

    Hydration of ethylene, CO2 and Lipids can all be used to make alcohol.

    At lower strengths this is fine for human consumption.

    Although fermented then distilled drinks may be more popular, I did mention this wasn’t the point.

    Claiming that a fermented drink (as they creator of the product implies) is better than a distilled drink is poppycock.

  34. So … it’s chemically extracted flavors in water and ethanol, plus citric acid and sodium citrate?

    And Americans rave (“yum”) about this crap? No wonder they’re the only nation where life expectancy is getting shorter and shorter every year.

  35. It’s so funny because I’m in college and we usually drink those by the 24 pack.

    (They don’t have white claw at Costco)

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