Review: Hardwood Spiked Seltzer Bitter Citrus

Review: Hardwood Spiked Seltzer Bitter Citrus

Hardwood Spiked has essentially created a cocktail that inverts the role of ingredients where the bitters are featured front and center and the spirit and fruit are mere accoutrements. These 100 calorie seltzers use a corn whiskey base that “extracts 8 organic botanicals prior to oak barrel aging… balanced with organic maple syrup, though dry not sweet. All natural and no chemicals or preservatives.” The base whiskey is undeniably the herbal-flavored whiskey The Original Brodsky which was released in 2016 and reviewed here at Drinkhacker.

Per the company’s website, the inspiration behind Hardwood is apparently due to most hard seltzers not being “hard” enough, i.e. they aren’t bitter enough as opposed to not having enough of a buzzy punch: An interesting conundrum to have identified as an underserved market in the ready-to-drink cocktail sector. An alternative genesis story is one introduced by Marc Brodsky himself, the doctor who formulated the drink and one of the four founders, leaning more heavily towards tapping into the health benefits of the various botanicals. Specifically, the intended applications of the concoction is to address symptoms of functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs; yes, it is a thing) by promoting digestive secretions, soothing digestive discomfort and promoting “gastric motility.” (Did I mention this was formulated by a doctor?) The key botanicals include bitter orange, dandelion, yarrow, cinnamon, ginger, fennel, and angelica.

Let’s see how all this unfolds.

The coloring is only slightly muddied by the whiskey. The nose is similar to jalapeño — both the scent and the acidic hit to the nostrils. The palate is indeed bitter, but it offers much more complexity than just citrus rind (which is present). Before confirming the ingredients, I catch rosemary, turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, and basil. It is overall rather woodsy and grassy, but not unpleasant. As a fan of bitterness, I rather enjoyed this drink and think it would make a nice digestif after over-indulging on holiday meals. It can also be an effective palate cleanser. The hint of maple syrup here does indeed come off as more dry than sweet, and seems to be used less as a sweetener and more to soften the bitterness of the botanicals and herbs.

This may be a bit much for some drinkers, though I can see it growing on you over time. For some it may be too “hard,” but that seems to be what they were after. Based on our initial experience with The Original Brodsky, this is probably the best idea going when it comes to drinking the whiskey.

4.5% abv.

A- / $10 per 4-pack of 12 oz cans /

Hardwood Spiked Seltzer Bitter Citrus Flavor




Monica is an incurable dilettante, who is relentlessly curious about books, brews (the coffee kind) and bourbons.

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