UPDATE: In November, UGLY launched its newest flavor, watermelon. While Fall might not seem like the most opportune time for such a Summer-y taste, UGLY's cofounder Hugh Thomas says he's not particularly interested in rules about what you "should" drink in what season: "Watermelon in the cooler months . . . Why not?" The new flavor is available in stores in NYC and online now.
I admit it: when a box of sparkling water from Ugly Drinks showed up on my desk, I ignored it for several days. The ubiquity of sparkling water just feels so embarrassingly . . . millennial. The bubble-infused beverage has become such a mainstay in the diets and at the social gatherings of 20- and 30-somethings that it's hard to remember how we hydrated before it. Why the obsession? Based on absolutely no research, I am certain we can chalk it up to two key factors: global warming (we're thirsty!) and our generation's propensity to drink less alcohol (we're boring!).
I like sparkling water; I don't love it. I'll take a coconut LaCroix — the best LaCroix flavor, don't @ me — but only if there's no wine. I despise the noncommittal, vaguely fruit-adjacent flavor of so many sparkling waters, as though someone just served me Pellegrino from a glass they forgot they drank Hi-C out of earlier. Others are so aggressively bubbly you have to sip them in slow-mo to prevent hot-air ballooning (a real medical condition I swear I didn't just make up). So, once I did snap open a cherry Ugly, I was surprised I liked it. A lot. Here's why:
- Like most trendy sparkling waters, Ugly is also sugar-, preservative-, and calorie-free . . .
- But it shares more in common in the flavor department with the Crystal Geyser sparkling juices my mom used to buy at Costco when I was a kid than it does with many of today's wimpier-tasting carbonated waters.
- Ugly smells good, and it tastes like it smells. The peach flavor is actually peachy. The lemon-lime variety isn't artificial.
- The bubbles are smooth, and the carbonation isn't crazy abrasive.
- Let's not be coy about it: the bright blue cans, laden with a vintage, pop-art-inspired bubble font, are practically begging to be Instagrammed.
When I threw a party over Memorial Day weekend, at least a dozen people asked me about the adorable sparkling water I was hawking liberally from the fridge. Where could they buy it? Well, buckle up, my friends, because this is where it gets super millennial. The UK-based beverage line is available in a few spots on the East Coast . . . but is mostly sold via a monthly online subscription. I initially felt ridiculous subscribing to water with bubbles in it. Then, I considered that a) I am a sucker for wine clubs, which operate in much the same manner; b) I love receiving things in the mail; and c) I have to stop myself from consuming an entire case of cherry-flavored Ugly in a single sitting. Up I signed. My monthly supply of 24 cans of cherry Ugly, with tax and shipping, comes to $27.20. That's $1.13 per can. What else can you even buy for $1.13 these days? A single pencil? One lightly used Ziploc bag? I don't know.
If you want to give Ugly Drinks a try, the brand was kind enough to give me this code to share with POPSUGAR readers, which lands you 10 percent off your first order: UGLYWATERMELON. It's simple, really. You, like me, can recognize that your sparkling water resistance is futile and fully accept your millennial fate, or continue to eschew effervescence in favor of a flat-water existence. The choice is yours.