By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Aug 22, 2019 at 2:01 PM

Milwaukee’s own Central Standard Craft Distillery is making a bold move and challenging the growing hard seltzer market with a brand new beverage that is, surprisingly ... still.

Hard2O, comprised of flavored still (not sparkling) water with a vodka kick, is a-first-of-its-kind addition to a changing beverage market.

Boasting only 40 calories per 12-ounce bottle, with no sugar and zero carbs, this gluten free beverage, which weighs in at a 5 percent ABV, is available in flavors including berry, mango, citrus and dragon-fruit pear.

"Hard2O is a true-game-changing product," says Central Standard co-owner Evan Hughes. "We aren’t just unveiling a great tasting new beverage, we are introducing a whole new category to the industry today: spiked vodka water."

The new beverage, which is being marketed to active Americans, has been rolled out to Wisconsin area liquor and grocery stores this week, and is poised for a national launch in 2020.

"We’ve already heard from golfers, boaters, tennis players, runners and even ultra-athletes who are all excited to try Hard2O after their next workout or at the 19th hole," says co-founder Pat McQuillan. "Hard2O is perfect for anyone counting calories or those just wanting a better-tasting drink."

Hughes and McQuillan have locked in their production schedule for 2020 and are currently in the process of selecting a national distributor who can assist them in going national.

"When it comes to coast-to-coast distribution, the right partner is pivotal," McQuillan says. "The right distributor can make or break a national-product rollout like the one we envision for Hard2O in 2020."

For Denver Mixologist Sean Keipper, national distribution or at least distribution to Colorado can’t come fast enough.

"With only 40 calories, no carbs and no fizz, Hard2O is going to play well here in Denver, but also poolside out in Vegas, at golf resorts in Arizona, on both coasts and basically anywhere folks get fanatical about working out," says Keipper, a bartender and 15-year industry veteran.

"I envision most people will drink Hard2O chilled straight out of the bottle, but it’ll also make a great cocktail ingredient, not to mention be refreshing served on the rocks with a lime."

You can follow Hard2O on Facebook and Instagram.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.