I Had Zero Regrets in Life Until I Tried Spiked Still Water

Consider the Summer of Spiked Seltzer officially ruined.

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Jason Speakman

In the introduction to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley penned a maxim that tactfully described the true nature of creativity: "Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos."

Consider World War II—perhaps the most broadly chaotic era of the 20th century—producing innovations such as jet engines, medical penicillin, ballpoint pens, superglue, radar and more. If the chaos of the Great War could bring about such an abundance of life-changing creations, what kind of future will we invent given society's current state of seemingly perpetual turbulence?

We were promised jetpacks, but instead we got spiked still water.

Spiked still water is an actual beverage that is being legally sold for money and not (as I'd assumed) an SNL parody product a la Colon Blow.

A half-dozen six-packs of this dubious libation arrived at the Men's Health office early last week to little fanfare. No one seemed willing to claim them, and they occupied the corner of our kitchen countertop for what felt like an eternity. Other free swap samples are snatched up sometimes within minutes of being unboxed. But this spiked still water remained untouched and unacknowledged, as if they were some sort of strange hellish mirage that only I could see.

It's clear that Pura Spiked Still Water is looking to cash in on the Summer of Spiked Seltzer by offering an alternative option to people who want to get drunk, but want their actual drinking experience to be as devoid of sensation as is humanly possible. Pura's main gripe? Bubbles. It bills itself as the "the first spiked water that doesn’t need bubbles to keep things interesting." Weird flex, but okay.

After several days of waiting for people in HAZMAT suits to show up and retrieve the spiked still water for proper quarantining, my curiosity got the best of me. I chose the Blackberry flavor (I didn't want to ruin two other flavors I enjoy: Mango and Mandarin Orange) and twisted off the cap. Raising the bottle to my lips, I briefly considered that I might be pleasantly surprised. Perhaps my cynicism was unfounded?

But that glimpse of optimism was quickly replaced by a much deeper melancholy: this shit was straight-up gross. What if you took a half-shot of cheap flavored vodka and then dumped it into a glass of tap water? Or if you let a few-years-old Smirnoff Ice go flat? Or if you grabbed the wrong Solo cup after a particularly out-of-control party, hoping to rehydrate? It was like all of those things at the same time.

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Make it stop.
Jason Speakman

Since I'm a journalist, I gamely decided to finish the whole bottle to see if the first cut was, as Sheryl Crow once pointed out, the deepest. What I found was that if the first sip was an affront, the following sips were quite uneventful. The "hint" of blackberry began to remind me of Robitussin and I simply longed for this exercise to conclude. By removing the bubbles, the crispness of a spiked seltzer was replaced with the sorrow of a Tito's rocks where the ice had melted 3 hours ago.

Perhaps spiked still water is less about the journey and more about the destination. Can this stuff get you drunk? At 4.5% ABV, you'd have to knock back a lot of Pura to get a proper buzz going, so that's exactly what I tried to do.

But three bottles in, my resolve was crushed. I reached for a glass of regular, non-alcoholic still water to cleanse my palate, but I couldn't shake the coconut water powder, sodium benzoate, and malt alcohol base that had hijacked my taste buds. I didn't feel buzzed; I felt bored. I just wanted it to end.

The fizzy delight of a White Claw hard seltzer had spawned the memeable slogan "Aint' no laws when you're drinkin' Claws." Yet the only slogan I could muster for this experience was "You need to have a serious heart-to-heart with your daughter because she's taken a liking to drinking spiked still water."

Is this really what the kids are going to be drinking? I texted my best sources on all things hip and alcohol-related: my sister and her roommate. Surely they would tell me that spiked still water was a novelty, and that the youths weren't all TikToking about it. But I was sorely mistaken.

"The one we tried was smooth and crisp and delicious," my sister's roommate Kathryn actually texted me. "Maybe lime? Tasted great on the beach at 9am. Maybe it tasted great because I was already buzzed but who knows."

My dear sister, Gillian, tragically fell for the no-bubbles gambit hook, line and sinker: "For someone who doesn't like bubbles, I appreciate the still option."

Don't get me wrong: We live in a world that's more health-conscious than ever before, and it's natural to seek out adult beverage options that won't make you feel bloated or hungover. But this...ain't it.

It's stressful experiences like this one that can drive a man to drink. But you can be damn sure that I'll be reaching for anything but a spiked still water.

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