You've either never heard of LaCroix, or you're among the obsessed. You argue over the best flavor of the calorie-free sparkling water (pamplemousse, obvs), or you don't know why anyone would bother purchasing flavored seltzer in the age of SodaStream. You either find ways to get your cat to pose with cans, or you're not sure what that "melón-pomelo" stuff is doing at a neighbor kid's birthday party.
But the numbers suggest that you're increasingly likely to be familiar with the 35-year-old sparkling-water brand: According to the Wall Street Journal, sales of sparkling water grew by 26% last year, and the fastest-growing unsweetened version is: you guessed it.
Someone tweets, "What's the best flavor of LaCroix?" at least once a day.
Someone tweets, "What's the best flavor of LaCroix (to put vodka in)" every day, too.
I'll be honest: Flavored LaCroix is temperamental as a mixer. While the flavored waters are fruity, each also has a slight bitterness that isn't tempered by sugar the way it is in soda or tonic water. Look around the internet and you'll find some very basic boozy LaCroix drink recipes, but most that I've tried just aren't all that delicious. Dumping tequila in your fizzy water is actually pretty gross.
So I reached out to a few bartenders for their advice, asking for recipes, featuring even the wackiest of LaCroix flavors, that actually work as cocktails. These drinks are richly flavored but not at all complicated to make—and most don't even require the use of a shaker.
Shall we crack some cans open?
About that vodka question: Christopher Longoria of San Francisco's 1760 has the answer. It's pamplemousse. But the best version has a few more additions to fill out the drink: muddled cucumber and fresh lemon juice, a little simple syrup to sweeten, and a touch of elderflower liqueur. The brunch-appropriate cocktail is cool and smooth, juicy and fresh.
This easy, rosy-red drink is ready for your aperitivo hour. Created by John Swet of The Skylark, it beautifully balances bitter and sweet, like a fresh fruit punch with a bitter edge. Campari and tangerine-flavored LaCroix are costars here, with a squeeze of lime and orange to round things out. No shaker needed; you just build this drink right in the serving glass.
There seems to be a secret society of coconut-LaCroix drinkers—and I'm not among them. But this fresh sipper, inspired by the rum- and pineapple-dosed Painkiller, works in a light and lovely way. It's perfect for warm weather; beachy and tropical, without the heavy dose of coconut cream. Claire Sprouse of San Francisco's Tin Roof Drink Community created the drink to feature Lo-Fi Sweet Vermouth from Napa, a gently sweet and lightly bitter concoction made with white wine, sherry, and grape spirits infused with rhubarb, anise, cocoa, vanilla, gentian, and coconut. It's awesome here, but the drink is also fantastic when you sub in fruity, off-dry Dolin Blanc.