These days, everyone makes a 5% hard seltzer. Boooorrring.

In 2022, we helped Santa Fe Brewing Company make water weirder and launch an 8% abv party water for New Mexicans called Cholla Fizz. It’s a sweet, soda-like seltzer for people who like to get a little fizzed-up. 

The fizzy, fruity beverage known as hard seltzer has been on a meteoric rise for the past several years. 2019 saw the category grow 226%. In 2020, it grew 165%. But as the pandemic eased and people returned to bars and restaurants in 2021, off premise sales began to flatten a little bit. Santa Fe Brewing had already launched hard seltzer in 2019, but the softening sales of the category as a whole (along with the sheer volume of competition) got us rethinking things. It was time for something harder.

In 2021, we began working on launching a new seltzer that would look and taste different from our local competitors, but still retain the New Mexico-centric positioning of the brewery. Past research taught us that in New Mexico, the flavor profile people find appealing tends to skew a little sweeter and stronger. After some trial an error in the brewhouse, the crazy party liquid known as Cholla Fizz was born.

The cholla is a sharp, bad-ass looking cactus found all over New Mexico and the Southwest. Its nickname is “the jumping cactus” because all you have to do is get close to it, and the needles will jump right into your skin. Cholla Fizz is a sweet, fruity, 8% abv hard seltzer that’s just as prickly. Not everyone knows how to say it (it’s pronounced choy-a), but that didn’t matter. The name was a perfect fit.

As for the packaging, we wanted to find a way to differentiate ourselves further away from the other boring bubble-waters sitting on the shelf. Rather than the typical straight white can with simple large typfaces, we chose to delve a little more into the art and culture of New Mexico, pulling from simple flat illustration and graffiti art from low-rider culture. The hope was to create a container that looked good on the shelf, appealing to everyone looking to have a good time, and ultimately, look good in your hand.

The undeniable explosion of seltzers has taken over store shelves and floors. To get noticed, we created a 3 foot tall cholla standee and had store owners put them on top of floor stacks... sometimes on top of our competition.