We’ve watched a lot of muddled, buzzword-laden Anheuser-Busch product launches come and go over the years, but this feels like something special. Rarely has the worldwide beverage giant managed to cram so many seemingly unrelated, conflicting words and descriptions into a new product as they have with the newly announced Social Club Seltzer. Seemingly marketed toward older, more affluent men, it attempts to hitch cocktail culture onto the hard seltzer train, creating a Frankensteinian product along the way that is somehow neither.
AB InBev describes Social Club Seltzer as the following: “A modern take on a classic cocktail, but with the added light refreshment of a hard seltzer twist with various juices and flavors. It meets a need in the premium hard seltzer market for more refined flavors and for those who are looking for more complex tastes but appreciate the lower calorie count and ABV from their spirit-based alternative.”
This kind of language does a good job of obfuscating what the product actually is, anchoring it somewhere in the nebulous territory between “canned cocktail” and “hard seltzer.” Ultimately it’s almost certainly more of the latter, however, as Social Club doesn’t claim to be made with actual spirits or liquor. Therefore, it’s likely using alcohol derived from malt or cane sugar fermentation, rather than the distilled spirits you would expect in a cocktail. It merely apes those flavors, with three core expressions: Old Fashioned, Sidecar and the amusingly vague “Citrus Gimlet.” That gives AB InBev hard seltzer approximations of three different classic cocktails traditionally made with whiskey, brandy and gin respectively. According to the brand, each weighs in at 7% ABV (slightly under the 8% of a Lime-a-Rita) and 150 calories, and are targeted at “males between 30-39 who have a complex palette and enjoy a cocktail.”
That target demo is quite clear from the marketing copy, much of which reads like it’s intended for those who grew up in affluence but feel the need to be fiercely proud of their supposed “bootstrapping” regardless. Here’s how AB InBev sees the possessors of a “refined palate.”
“Behind every achievement is raw hustle. Behind every MVP is grit. Greatness is not DNA, it is intention. Social Club Seltzer is thoughtfully crafted for those of us who know you’re never just born with it. Behind every refreshing cool seltzer is a hardworking classic cocktail, made with intention. With 7% ABV and only 150 calories, Social Club Seltzer is for those who are on top of their game and seeking a sophisticated beverage to enjoy.
Because when you think “sophistication,” you think “I’ll bypass actual cocktails in favor of artificially flavored, cocktail-adjacent seltzer, thank you very much,” right? It’s so much more convenient, after all, for those of us who are “on top of our game.” Remember, kids: Winners don’t drink liquor. They drink hard seltzer! Lots of it!
Social Club Seltzer is hitting stores nationwide this week, in single-flavor 6-packs and what is sure to be a highly coveted variety 12-pack. Be sure to pick some up so you can indicate to all your friends that you possess the kind of sophisticated palate that can appreciate “cocktail-inspired taste.”