Review: SunnyD Vodka Seltzer Is A Nostalgic Treat With A Twist

It seems like almost anything can be carbonated and spiked these days — including beverages that are typically marketed towards children. Don't believe us? The recent release of SunnyD Vodka Seltzer might just change your mind. If you're jonesing for a taste of the past that packs a boozier punch than what you drank on the playground, look no further than this nostalgia-laden beverage.

First released in 1963, SunnyD's non-alcoholic offerings are, in fact, geared toward people who aren't of legal drinking age. However, since the brand has been around for so long, many of its fans are now part of the 21+ crowd — hence the expansion into the alcoholic beverage space.

If you've ever used SunnyD as a mixer (all that tang can do wonders in terms of masking the taste of booze, after all), then this new carbonated treat should definitely be on your radar. SunnyD Vodka Seltzer combines the easy-drinking, beach-friendly approachability of a spiked seltzer with the no-nonsense, actual-booze-included ingredient list of a vodka soda. The result is a drink that speaks to the same part of your heart as opening a fresh pack of Dunkaroos, but with a whole lot less sugar (don't worry, you'll get a different type of buzz).

What is SunnyD Vodka Seltzer?

Let's get one important thing straight here: SunnyD Vodka Seltzer doesn't actually contain any of the brand's iconic orange drink. Rather, it's a blend of vodka, sparkling water, and natural flavors that are designed to mimic the taste of the original childhood favorite. For this concoction, the brand combines the fruity taste of childhood with the fun of an adults-only buzz and packages it in a convenient, slim can.

If you're like us, and you tried every SunnyD flavor back in the day, you're probably wondering how SunnyD is able to reconcile its general marketing (which is very much geared towards kids) with offering a beverage that you must be of legal drinking age to consume. According to the brand's website, the folks at SunnyD wanted to make a drink for the adults out there who enjoy the tangy orange taste of SunnyD, but who also want to drink an adult beverage. The brand took care to make it explicitly clear that these beverages are NOT for kids via its bold packaging (the word "vodka" is pretty hard to miss with this one).

Where can I buy it and how much does it cost?

SunnyD Vodka Seltzer was released in select Walmart stores on March 11, according to an emailed press release, and is now being rolled out across the country. It's available in AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MS, MO, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NY, ND, OH, RI, SD, TN, TX, and WI in stores that are permitted to sell liquor. If you live in a state where liquor can't be sold in grocery stores, you won't find it in the same aisle as beverages like White Claw, since this one contains actual vodka.

The 12-ounce slim cans retail as a pack of four for $9.99 or as individuals for $1.99 each. You might have to look a little harder for this seltzer since it's still brand new, and Walmart is likely your best option if you live in an area where the store can sell alcohol.

What's in it?

As with many other canned hard seltzers, you can enjoy SunnyD Vodka Seltzer with the peace of mind that you aren't consuming too many calories or grams of sugar. Although we'd all love to have the metabolism (and blissful ignorance) that we did when we first started drinking the non-alcoholic version of SunnyD in our younger years, for most of us, nutritional info is a concern these days, even when it comes to enjoying alcohol.

According to the package, SunnyD Vodka Seltzer is made with vodka, real fruit juice, sparkling water, and natural flavors. The fact that it's also gluten-free, contains zero grams of sugar, and rings in at only 95 calories per can is a real draw. While we're well aware that any type of alcohol is far from being "healthy," we will say that this one boasts pretty good stats. Although it's not listed on the can, according to the brand's website, the seltzer does contain stevia.

In terms of booziness, it comes in at a tame 4.5% — perfect for when you have a long day or night of drinking ahead of you, or you just want something that's not super strong.

How does it taste?

Although it's admittedly been years since we've tried the non-alcoholic version of SunnyD, it's a flavor that's hard to forget — and we were extremely excited to see how close the adult version would taste to the original. The first thing we noticed upon cracking open an ice-cold can was the aroma. This stuff smells almost exactly like the SunnyD we drank as kids.

In terms of flavor, the citrus is pronounced and prominent, though less acidic than the non-alcoholic version. Strong notes of tangerine, clementine, and orange all shine through. In fact, there's enough orange flavor in this beverage that it practically begs to be consumed at brunch in place of a standard mimosa. Though we enjoyed SunnyD Vodka Seltzer straight up, we liked it even better over ice.

The one downside about this beverage is that it does have that slightly "off" aftertaste that often comes from beverages that are sweetened with stevia.

How does it compare to other hard seltzers?

First of all, when compared to brands like White Claw or Truly, SunnyD Vodka Seltzer sets itself apart because it contains actual vodka, which is a huge pro if you're asking us. The flavor of this beverage is also significantly more pronounced. If you've ever thought that White Claw flavors taste diluted, you won't experience that with this brand. The bright, unabashedly orange flavor isn't shy about being front and center.

Technically speaking, this brand shares more similarities with High Noon, which is also made from vodka and sparkling water. However, High Noon flavors tend to stick to more classic hard seltzer options like black cherry. We thought SunnyD was equally as effervescent as other hard seltzers on the market, which we applaud the brand for since some out-of-the-box seltzer brands tend to fall flat (literally).

In our eyes, the main thing that sets SunnyD Vodka Seltzer apart from the competition is its marketing and general vibe. While a can of spiked SunnyD conjures up memories of summer afternoons playing tag, a can of White Claw makes us recall attending crowded parties and playing drinking games.

Is it worth buying?

As a novelty beverage that's sure to garner interest and curiosity at your next barbecue? Yes. As a fun, all-grown-up accompaniment to your '90s-themed game night? Yes. As a low-sugar alternative to mimosas at brunch? Definitely yes. As a drink to pair with a fancy dinner? No. As a replacement for all the other (and we're sure there are many) hard seltzers in your life? Also, no.

Overall, we dig the fact that SunnyD Vodka Seltzer really captures the essence of the childhood juice we all know and love. We also like how it manages to differentiate itself from other seltzers on the market — you'll know you aren't drinking a White Claw or a High Noon the moment you take your first sip.

If you loved SunnyD as a kid (or as an adult, since there's no age limit on enjoying zippy, citrusy beverages) we highly recommend getting your hands on a pack of these for a fun departure from your run-of-the-mill carbonated options. While we wouldn't want to drink these every weekend, we think the concept of drinking boozy SunnyD is enough of a good time to make it worth giving them a shot. After all, what's the point of having a few drinks if you aren't going to celebrate the things that make life fun?