The perfect drink is an elusive unicorn. Light and tasty? Refreshing and boozy? It's hard to achieve all of these things in a single glass. Luckily, I have the answer. It's time to give your cocktails a makeover with the zany fruit-essence flavours of LaCroix sparkling water.
It's time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo's weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science and alcohol.
Although LaCroix has been around forever, its sales have tripled since 2009. I learned of it a few months ago when the cans curiously began popping up in my Instagram feeds. Then I read a glowing essay about in the New York Times Magazine in which I learned its provenance was not, as I assumed, the South of France, but rather the Midwest. The water is named after the St. Croix River and La Crosse, Wisconsin.
The swooping '80s watercolor art on loan from your childhood dentist's office will make you want to stock these cans in your fridge. But there are some other great reasons to drink LaCroix. In my search for better alternatives to bottled sparkling waters, I found that canned water was better for the environment (for one, the recycling rate for cans is nearly twice that of plastic). I also like the fact that LaCroix's water is responsibly sourced here in the US. Plus, LaCroix tastes like fruit but has no artificial sweeteners; it's flavored with naturally extracted fruit oils. Which is why the Coconut one does taste quite a bit like sunblock — in a good way!
And that's my final point: THE FLAVOURS. There are 12 official LaCroix flavours, although I only see about half of them regularly on shelves. These are flavours which are unlike anything you've ever tasted in a beverage. Apricot! Passionfruit! Peach-Pear! The aforementioned Coconut. The Grapefruit is so grapefruity that they have to resort to a French spelling just to convey the true and utter grapefruitiness. It's called Pamplemousse. And it's délicieuse.
This is why La Croix works so well for cocktails, especially ones that you must gulp down when it's 95 and humid. Instead of stirring sugary mixers into your alcohol, you can add the same zesty splash of flavour with no added clunkiness — and lots and lots of tiny bubbles. While you can certainly swap soda or tonic with LaCroix to make traditional drink like a vodka soda or a gin and tonic, I've found that it works best as a replacement for the heaviest flavour in a cocktail so you can add yet another flavour to the mix. Here are five La Croix cocktails you can slip into this weekend.
This is a lighter take on the traditional piña colada without the coconut creme and existential guilt. Although it does, indeed, taste a little like sunblock. In a good way!
- Light rum
- Coconut LaCroix
- Pineapple juice
Combine equal parts of all three ingredients, serve with a pineapple wedge.
The typical greyhound, but not typical at all because it's pamplemousse.
- Pamplemousse LaCroix
- Grapefruit juice
Salt the rim of the glass and squeeze half a grapefruit into it. Add gin and LaCroix. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.
I was not a believer in spritzers but a lil' LaCroix even makes rosé even better.
- LaCroix Cran-Raspberry
Combine ingredients in equal parts, garnish with a slice of watermelon (because it's summer).
Double Bubble Bellini
Bubbles + bubbles + one of the less-appreciated stone fruits = brilliance.
- LaCroix Apricot
Combine ingredients in equal parts and add a few shakes of nutmeg. Drop a raspberry in the glass before serving.
You never knew how good sangria could be with bubbles.
- Vinho verde or other very light white wine
- LaCroix Mango
- Slices of tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, melon
- A few shakes of cinnamon
Combine equal parts wine and brandy, add fruits and cinnamon, let flavours combine for a few hours. Add LaCroix. Ladle out into glasses, including the fruit.
Pisco is tequila's cooler cousin. LaCroix is everyone's cool aunt.
- LaCroix Berry
- Pomegranate juice
Serve with a handful of raspberries on top.
This is a zestier take on a cosmo, and you don't have to drink it in that stupid glass.
- LaCroix Passionfruit
- Lime juice
Muddle strawberries and lime with cane sugar, add vodka, shake with ice. Add LaCroix and garnish with a strawberry.
Wisconsin Bourbon Slush
A slurpee for grown ups.
- LaCroix Peach-Pear
Combine equal parts bourbon, tea, and lemonade, freeze until almost frozen (it probably won't freeze all the way due to the booze). Remove from fridge and scoop into glass, pour LaCroix over the slush until it's a drinkable consistency. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
You put the lime in the coconut...
- Dark rum
- Coconut LaCroix
Muddle lime with cane sugar, add equal parts other two ingredients, drink them both up, and call me in the morning.
Thanks to Ann Friedman, Margaret Wappler, Summer Block Kumar, Doree Shafrir, Jade Chang, Carolina Miranda and Mikey Burton (who is probably the biggest LaCroix fan I know).