A Texas favorite is jumping on the White Claw bandwagon: Topo Chico will enter the hard seltzer market with a boozy offshoot, according to an announcement by parent company Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola's statement is brief and doesn't offer details on flavors, but says the product will arrive in Latin America later this year. Its U.S. debut will likely occur sometime in 2021.
"Topo Chico Hard Seltzer is an experimental drink inspired by Topo Chico sparkling mineral water, which has been popular with many mixologists," their statement says.
The hard seltzer market, led by White Claw and Truly, grew more than 200 percent in 2019, according to data compiled by the IWSR, which tracks global sales of beer, wine, and spirits.
The surge in demand has triggered a flood of new entrants into the market, such Austin-based Mighty Swell. Global beverage brand Anheuser-Busch InBev now produces three different brands of seltzer including Bud Light, Natural Light, and Social Club.
White Claw proved so popular in 2019 that it experienced a shortage where bars and restaurants couldn't get enough to meet the demand. Consumers like the seltzers because they're easy to drink. Each can typically has less than 5-percent alcohol-by-volume and only contains around a hundred calories.
How will Topo Chico fare in such a competitive marketplace? Veteran Houston bartender Chris Frankel thinks Topo's reputation may allow it to penetrate segments of the market that have resisted the trend.
"Topo is an interesting brand because even though it's now a Coca-Cola subsidiary, it's popularity in bars comes from hipster cred," Frankel says. "A lot of bars that try to have that cred have shied away from carrying seltzers, because they're perceived as trendy. We'll see who picks up Topo as the first or only seltzer on the bar menu."
While he's intrigued at the prospect, Frankel, who has created White Claw-based cocktails, thinks that the Topo seltzer will have to offer something different to capture people's attention.
"Personally, I'll buy a case, but as crowded as the seltzer market is, they need to do something interesting with flavors or branding for me to want to stock it in a bar," he adds. "Price could be a factor, since seltzers have all gotten noticeably more expensive since last summer's White Claw boom."