White Claw, Truly, Vizzy, Bud Light Seltzer, Corona Seltzer, Mike’s Hard Seltzer, Coors Seltzer.. and the list goes on! Hard seltzers, commonly referred to as just “seltzers,” are in.
Sales of these these vodka and malt-based drinks have skyrocketed in recent years, leading every alcohol company to seek out their share of the market.
Although not a requirement to be labeled as a seltzer, most are touted to the health-conscious crowd as having few calories and little-to-no sugar. After all, they’re generally just a blend of carbonated water, alcohol, and fruit flavor.
Hard seltzers are a fun drink, but as it goes with all alcohol here in Newfoundland, we get reamed on the prices. At the time of writing in June, 2021, the liquor store sells a 6-pack of 355ml Vizzy Hard Seltzer cans with 5% abv for $20.49, which works out to $3.42 per can.
Compare to Blue Star beer: 5% abv and sold in 8-packs for $21.48, or $2.69 per can. You’re definitely paying a premium for the seltzers. Some say its worth it, since seltzers have the convenience of a can of beer, but not the bad breath or toxic farts. Also, being low in sugar means less of those abominable hangovers (supposedly).
Having grown up in Newfoundland, we’ve spent our adult lives (and a few years before that) trying to figure out how to drink on the cheap. Naturally, we’ve been on a quest to figure out how to enjoy a scattered seltzer at the absolute lowest price possible. That leads us here, sharing with you our guide to making cheap homemade hard seltzers in Newfoundland.
Scientists (us) in our laboratory (the shed) spent hours studying (drinking) these hard seltzer beverages and determined that they essentially contain two things: 1) carbonated flavored water and 2) alcohol. If we could somehow obtain and combine these ingredients, we could likely do so for less than the liquor store sells them.
Part 1: Liquor
Well, we’re kind of screwed on this one. Unless you have a friend who brews potato vodka, most of us are at the mercy of the Newfoundland government’s monopoly on alcohol sales.
Still, there are much cheaper options when you look beyond the flashy, heavily-marketed seltzers.
To get the best price on alcohol, you must venture into the vodka section and be willing to buy the absolute cheapest stuff you can find. This isn’t the time for brand loyalty or being a liquor snob.
We start by looking at sales. The liquor store’s idea of a sale is usually underwhelming, with anywhere from a dollar off to maybe a few bucks off if you’re lucky. The important thing is the unit price; how much vodka you can get for a given amount of money.
You figure this out by dividing the contents of the bottle by the price of the bottle.
For our example, we’ll use this greasy-looking Russian Prince vodka which was on sale, and at $15.98 made it the cheapest flask available when we felt like writing this article.
A flask contains 375ml of vodka. Divide the price of $15.98 by 375ml, and you get $0.04. So this vodka costs 4 cents per ml.
Note: Bigger bottles are generally the best value, but not always. The bys were coming over this night and we didn’t want to have a 60 of liquor sitting around for them to drink on us.
You’ll also need to be sure you buy a bottle big enough for how many drinks you plan on having. A flask contains enough vodka for about 8.5 drinks if you use the standard 1.5 oz shot size. A 60 oz bottle will yield nearly 40 drinks; enough for a couple days at least.
Part 2: The Mix
Most of us are familiar with “mix” as being the stuff that you use to cover up the flavour of the alcohol. Traditionally, mix is some sort of soft drink, but for cheap homemade hard seltzers in Newfoundland, you’re going to need sparkling water. Then, you’ll have everything needed for your own homemade hard seltzers.
Stay away from brand names unless there’s an amazing sale. Dominion sometimes has decent sales on their tins of sparkling flavoured water, but the best deal we’ve ever seen is on 2 litres of Big 8 sparkling water at Sobeys. It’s only available in lemon flavour (in addition to unflavoured). We’ve seen them as low as $0.77 per bottle on sale, but regular price they’re $1.29 each. And it’s produced in Atlantic Canada!
Part 3: Combining
After acquiring the ingredients comes the most important step. This is where your cheap homemade hard seltzers are born.
You can use a standard 1.5 oz (44ml) shot glass to pour up the liquor, or simply count “1… 2… 3.. seconds” as you pour to your preferred taste.
1 shot = 1 beer, generally. So if you use 1 shot glass of liquor each time, know that it’s about the same as drinking one normal 5% beer.
If you like your drinks cold, keep the mix chilled and add to the glass ice before pouring.
We like drinking from mustard glasses, but they’re a bit tiny for this drink. Just choose your favorite glass that will have enough space for the amount of mix you want.
The nice thing here is that you can create stronger or weaker drinks to keep yourself in the pocket throughout your drinking session. If you’re feeling a bit too tipsy but don’t want to embarrass yourself by having a glass of water, just mix a drink with very little or no alcohol and secretly rehydrate.
So how does the price of making your own homemade hard seltzers compare to the ones sold at the liquor store?
As we outlined earlier, when you buy a 6-pack of Vizzy, the cost works out to $3.42 per can.
In our example with the dirty ol cheap vodka, we found that it would be $1.76 for 1.5 oz (44ml) of liquor.
Next, you’ll need 311ml of mix per drink. Using Big 8 sparkling flavored water at the regular price of $1.29 plus tax (so, $1.48), you would get 6.4 drinks worth of mix from a single 2L bottle. That works out to $0.23 worth of mix to create a 355ml drink.
That’s a grand total of $1.98 per drink with the homemade hard seltzer, compared to $3.42 for cans of Vizzy. That’s a savings of $1.44 per drink! This would likely be even better if you bought a giant bottle of vodka. You can even use different types of liquor.
For the $20.49 you’d spend down at the LC for a 6-pack of Vizzy, you could have had 10 homemade drinks. That’s like drinking for free every other weekend!
This may not have the convenience or cool-factor of cans, but other Newfoundlanders shouldn’t judge you too hard since booze costs so much here. Mixing at home is easy, but if you’re a real conscious spender (or just broke), then you’ll figure out a way to make this work during a day on the beach, around the campfire, in a trap shack, or wherever your drinking adventures take you.
That’s how you can make cheap homemade hard seltzers in Newfoundland. Cheers and happy cheap drinking! Don’t forget to drink pretty responsibly.