Flavored sparkling water is one of this summer's big food and beverage trends, and over the past few years, sparkling water's grown-up cousin, alcoholic seltzer, has grown in popularity too. Whether you call it boozy, spiked or hard, there are plenty of reasons why these drinks are popular, especially in the summer.

  • They're low in alcohol, rarely rising above 6 percent ABV, and lower-alcoholic beverages, like session cocktails, are popular right now. The lower alcohol allows you to drink more without getting a buzz quickly, and it helps to keep you cooler in the warm weather.
  • They're a great low-calorie option. Lower sugar brands like Smirnoff have about 90 calories per 12 ounces. Those with a little more sugar, like Spiked Seltzer, have about 140 calories per 12 ounces.
  • Many, but not all, are gluten-free.
  • They're discreet in public places. We're not advocating breaking any no-alocholic beverage laws in parks or on beaches, but one of the reason these are popular is that they don't look much different than soda or sparkling water cans.

Ways to drink alcoholic seltzer

1. Drink straight from can or bottle: Just like nonalcoholic seltzer, you can drink boozy seltzer chilled and straight from the can or bottle. And, just like nonalcoholic seltzer, the tastes of these seltzers will vary from brand to brand. Some have very little flavor; some are more flavorful. Cooking Light did a taste test of various brands, and you can see from the video above that not all taste the same.

2. Pour over ice and add fresh fruit: Match the flavor of your seltzer with complementary fresh fruit and squeeze a little extra flavor into your drink.

3. Mix with juice: Go half and half. Try some no-sugar added juice and make it sparkle by adding an equal amount of alcoholic seltzer.

4. Use as a cocktail mixer: You can replace the nonalcoholic seltzer in any cocktail with an alcoholic one. Try using a lemon/lime alcoholic seltzer in a drink like a Tom Collins, but keep in mind it will increase the total alcohol content of the drink. With the popularity of these seltzers, you can find plenty of cocktail recipes online that have been specifically created for them. This White Claw Black Cherry High Ball made with gin, fresh blackberries and black cherry hard seltzer looks pretty good.

5. Create your own spritzer: A spritzer is traditionally some combination of wine and sparkling water served over ice in a wine glass. Try mixing fruity, inexpensive white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc with your favorite flavor of alcoholic seltzer. You can add a little juice, some fruit liqueur or muddled berries into it, too.

Remember, like any seltzer, once a can or bottle is open, it will lose its fizz quickly. After opening, it has a few short hours before it goes flat. Also, because of their low alcoholic content, spiked seltzers don't age very well. Use them within six to nine months of purchase. They won't be dangerous to drink after that, but they will lose quality.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

5 ways to enjoy boozy seltzer
Seltzer that's low in alcohol and calories is all the rage.