We Tried Every Sonic Hard Seltzer So You Don't Have To

True Sonic fans know that the chain's drink menu is at least as important as the food. While the tots and Coney dogs have their fans, aficionados of the Sonic experience always come back for the beverages. Of course, the chain's distinctively chewable pellet ice has a cult following, but that's only one of many unique touches the iconic drive-in brings to their drinks. Where else can you customize your soda or slush with chopped fruit, an array of flavor syrups, and Nerds candy? It's the closest most of us will ever get to an old-timey soda fountain.

Sonic has decided to capitalize on its fast-food beverage supremacy by hopping on the hard seltzer bandwagon, releasing a lineup of eight flavors. According to a Sonic press release, the seltzer was originally only available in the company's home state of Oklahoma, but now it can be found in six more states. They generously sent us a couple of cases so we could test out all the flavors and share our results with you.

First impressions

Sonic Hard Seltzer comes in two themed 12-packs: Citrus and Tropical. The Citrus pack has Lemonade, Limeade, Lemon Berry, and Cherry Limeade. The Tropical offers Mango Guava, Melon Medley, Orange Pineapple, and Ocean Water. According to Sonic's website, each flavor has 100 calories, one gram of added sugar, and one gram of carbs. They're made out of carbonated water, alcohol fermented from sugarcane, and natural flavors. Sonic seltzer contains no gluten or distilled spirits. All in all, these seem healthier than most items on the drink menu at Sonic restaurants (except for the fact that they contain alcohol, of course).

At first glance, everything about Sonic Hard Seltzer is what we've come to expect from this beverage category, from the ingredients to the nutrition to the slim white can. The only things that set these seltzers apart from the competition are the Sonic branding and some unique flavor options. Ultimately, whether these are worth seeking out in the crowded hard seltzer market comes down to taste, so it's time to start cracking some cans.

Ocean Water

Ocean Water is perhaps the most distinctive item on Sonic's massive slush menu. No other fast-food place serves anything like it, and the company has copyrighted the drink's name. Some people go to Sonic just for this combination of blue coconut syrup and Sprite that smells vaguely like sunscreen (in a good way). As one of the chain's signature items, this flavor features prominently in Sonic Seltzer's marketing materials. The Sonic Hard Seltzer website contributes to America's worsening polarization by exhorting visitors to publicly declare whether they stand with Team Ocean Water or Team Cherry Limeade. Is this the Edward vs. Jacob of our generation?

We had high hopes for the Ocean Water seltzer going into this taste test, but sadly it was one of the least impressive flavors in the lineup. The original, nonalcoholic version from the drive-in is almost painfully sweet and instantly gives you a brain freeze because of Sonic's magical pellet ice. Since Sonic Hard Seltzers have very little added sugar and no artificial sweeteners, they're all much less sweet than their soft drink equivalents. The lack of sugar really hurts the Ocean Water seltzer, which has notes of savory coconut and sour citric acid with a mildly salty aftertaste. It's more reminiscent of actual ocean water than anything you'd get from Sonic. Count us as firmly Team Cherry Limeade.

Mango Guava

If somebody put a gun to your head right now and told you to describe the flavor of guava, would you know what to say? Guava is one of those fancy-sounding names that manufacturers can just throw onto products because they know that not that many people will call their bluff. If there's any guava flavor in this seltzer, we certainly couldn't detect it, and we wouldn't really know what to look for anyway. That doesn't mean it tastes bad, but it does mean it's putting on airs and pretending to be more special than it actually is.

Sonic's Mango Guava seltzer tastes like pure mango. Well, not actually like mango, but like the ersatz mango we've come to expect from hard seltzer flavorists. To be frank, it tastes exactly like Mango White Claw. We enjoy Mango White Claw, so we enjoy this too. Just don't come to this seltzer expecting to be blown away by the essence of exotic guava, or you'll leave disappointed.

Orange Pineapple

We got Big SunnyD and Tang vibes from this. It doesn't taste like orange juice, but rather what you thought "orange juice" was when you were a kid if you grew up on the corn syrup-rich, artificial stuff. That's not a knock on it whatsoever; SunnyD is delicious, and drinking something that kind of has that flavor but also gives you a mild buzz is wonderful.

Sour fake orange dominates this seltzer, with pineapple playing a supporting role. The pineapple notes that are present are less artificial-seeming than the orange, which may contribute to them coming across as more muted. The aftertaste of this one has a distinctive SweeTARTS edge to it that's not unpleasant. Like all the Sonic Seltzers, there's a good level of carbonation in this, which combined with the orange makes it seem like a chiller version of a mimosa (or a classier version of a brass monkey). Overall, it's a solid seltzer, but it's about middle-of-the-pack compared to its siblings.

Melon Medley

This one is a big departure for Sonic, as they don't have any melon-flavored beverages in their restaurants. However, many other hard seltzer brands do melon, so it makes sense that Sonic would want a piece of that action. Their version is a refreshing twist on the melon seltzer formula because its taste isn't dominated by watermelon. Rather, the strongest note is the elusive, slightly floral essence of ripe honeydew, something that's rarely captured in American beverages. Watermelon is definitely hanging out in the background, but it's not dominating your palate as you drink this.

The Melon Medley seltzer tastes more like Japanese Melon Ramune soda than it does, say, a Watermelon Truly. The hint of sweetness leaves your tongue pretty quickly, making way for an acidic, cucumbery aftertaste that's a little bit like Pepino Limon Gatorade. This is one of the best, if not the best, of the Sonic Seltzer bunch and definitely beats everything else in the tropical box. Not only is it delicious, but it doesn't taste like any other hard seltzer we've tried.


We expected the plain Limeade seltzer to be kind of boring, but it was actually one of the tastier options. You'd think the Limeade would taste pretty puckery, but it was less sour than some of the other seltzers, with a slightly more soda-like flavor. The first impression reminded us of diluted 7UP, with a pleasant balance of sweet and sour. Although the ingredients on the label didn't include artificial sweeteners, it had a little bit of that kind of flavor, with a saccharine aftertaste that smacked of diet soda. The lime essence in this can is full-flavored, with a citrusy pop and distinctive hints of lime oil.

Of all the Sonic seltzers, this one is the most faithful to its flavor inspiration. The taste is stronger than some of the others, and the extra sweetness really helps sell it as Limeade rather than just another weak-tasting hard seltzer. It would definitely be worth picking up as a standalone six-pack if you had the opportunity.


The Lemonade Sonic seltzer is somewhat similar to the Limeade, only worse in every way. The level of sourness is totally out of whack, making some sips taste like pure citric acid dissolved in plain sparkling water. There's no sweetness or fruit flavor, real or fake, to counteract the unrelenting acidity.

Why does lime get to taste like actual limes while lemon only tastes like sour? It's like if you made lemonade and just forgot to put sugar in it. If a bottle of Orangina lived a hard life that drained it of all sweetness and light, leaving only sourness and disappointment, this is what you'd get. The closest positive comparison we can make to this is the San Pellegrino citrus sodas, but that's honestly a real stretch. We know there are people out there who claim to enjoy sucking on wedges of lemon or lime for fun. Maybe Sonic had this demographic in mind when they formulated the Lemonade flavor, because we don't know who else this could possibly be for.

Lemon Berry

Sipping this reveals no evidence at all of the raspberry flavor promised by the illustration on the can. Rather, it tastes like a watered-down version of cheap pink lemonade, which is not a bad thing at all. Of course, so-called berry lemonade often doesn't taste like berries, so we won't hold that against it. This one is certainly better than the regular Lemonade seltzer, as it's not painfully sour. If you're a fan of Crystal Light, Mio, or similar flavored water products, you'll probably enjoy this, as it's a dead ringer for Crystal Light Raspberry Lemonade.

Lemon Berry's fatal flaw is that it's just, well, boring. The ratio between sweetness and acidity is properly calibrated, but there's no depth to keep your palate engaged. Limeade excels because it delivers a multifaceted lime experience, offering reasonably convincing facsimiles of the flavors of lime juice and lime zest. In contrast, Lemon Berry feels like a powder you'd add to your Nalgene when you got tired of plain water.

Cherry Limeade

Cherry Limeade is Ocean Water's nemesis in the Sonic flavor battle, but unlike its competitor, it's actually deserving of its star status. This seltzer is by far the most candylike of any of the flavors, which is what we really wanted from Sonic seltzers. This is, after all, the brand that lets you put literal candy inside your drinks and slushes, so it would only fit for their seltzer to shoot for that kind of sugary experience. The fake cherry flavor is big and bold, calling to mind memories of eating cherry snow cones in the summertime. This seltzer might also please fans of black cherry soda.

Compared to the other Sonic seltzers, everything about the flavor of Cherry Limeade is more extreme. It is both sweeter and more sour than its brethren, with an assertiveness that may prove divisive. We loved it, but if you like your fruit-flavored things to taste like real fruit, this isn't the seltzer for you.