The seltzer trend has blown up on the consumer market. Although the subcategory represents less than 10 percent of the total water category retail dollars for Coca-Cola, it drove nearly 35 percent of the water category's growth in 2017, says Brad Spickert, senior vice president of hydration at Coca-Cola North America.
Spickert sees potential in the restaurant market, too. "Sparkling water is a great way to enhance the dining experience, as it's versatile when it comes to pairing with food and mixing in cocktails," he says. To meet the growing demand for bubbles in restaurants, in 2017 Coca-Cola purchased Topo Chico, a Mexican sparkling mineral water brand that's been around since 1895, and the company is hoping to introduce the American market to Valser, a premium mineral water that has long been available in Europe, as well.
"Flavored sodas, tonics, and ginger beers are now a must in every bar, and bartenders are using them everywhere," says Bruno Molfetta of Bar 314 in New York.
House-made flavorings for these concoctions are trending, too. "We have a couple of non-alcoholic seltzers on our menu to give an alternative to those who want to veer away from soda, including our Pineapple-Passion Fruit Seltzer which is our most popular," says Amanda Rosenbloom of the chain Black Angus Steakhouse. "We are currently experimenting with these to make low-alcohol versions."