Maybe I’m just too much of an Albertan for my own good, but when I want a refreshing adult beverage, I usually reach for a beer.
I’ve tried the occasional cider or cooler here or there, but my overall knowledge of coolers is woefully lacking. How lacking? My cooler knowledge, on a scale of 1 to 10, is maybe a 2. I’ve wanted to change this for some time.
Well, blessed be the internets — a friendly marketing rep from Palm Bay sent a very large box of goodies by FedEx to NEAROF! HQ. Inside said box? A large metal tub filled with four different kinds of Palm Bay Spritz vodka coolers (see photo below) and a pair of hipster-approved Palm Bay drugstore sunglasses. Nice.
After snapping a few pix of the cans, off they went to the fridge for chilling. Here are some of my tasting notes for each of the flavours, in order of least awesome to most:
4. Strawberry Pineapple: Sweet with strawberry like the gum flavouring, not actual strawberry. Combines nicely with the pineapple, but it’s a bit cloying for my liking. The tartness helps even things, but it’s still quite sweet. The taste of the alcohol isn’t invisible. Overall? Meh.
3. Ruby Grapefruit Sunrise: It’s the one flavour that lists no artificial flavour on the label. It tastes like grapefruit pop/juice with a bit of vodka added. It’s got the sweet-sour bitterness of a grapefruit, so I worry about overnight heartburn. The colour is cloudy light pink, so self-conscious manly men will probably want to drink it straight from the can. If you’re a grapefruit fan, it’s not bad.
2. Key Lime Cherry: I won’t lie — of the two flavours, it’s the lime that I wanted to stand out, not the cherry. The combination is OK, but the cherry flavour – a pinch more cough drop than Cherry Coke, partially due to the slight alcohol taste – is a bit too forward, sharing the spotlight with the lime instead of merely supporting it. It’s still pretty good, with a tasty sweet/tart mix that’s refreshing. Not my first choice, but if I dug one out of a friend’s ice-filled cooler, I wouldn’t put it back in.
1. Pineapple Mandarin Orange: Sort of like one of those cans of Dole pineapple-orange juice. A bit sweet, balanced by some crisp tartness. Nice and fruity, with the pineapple standing out as the main flavour. It reminds me of a (non-alcoholic) drink called Fanta Cocktail that I used to be able to get in Burkina Faso. Of all the flavours, this is the one I could see myself drinking again.
RATINGS AND DETAILS
Cost: $12.99 per six-pack of 355 mL cans at Liquor Depot. Mine were a free sample. (Yay!)
Value for cash money: Good. Comparable to mid-range beer.
Availability: Across Canada. The product literature says you can find them at SAQ stores in Quebec, LCBO shops in Ontario, and various liquor stores in B.C. and Alberta.
Nutrition?: It’s a vodka cooler. Moderation, baby.
Coolerish power: 5% a.b.v.
Lesson learned: These things are stronger than you think they are when you’re drinking them. The experience is not unlike cooling down with a few cans of pop, then wondering why you’re having trouble standing up.
The verdict: Decent. Not my normal choice of beverage, but the pineapple mandarin flavour was good enough that I’d consider buying a pack to pair with a tropical meal. The acidity does build up after multiple cans of the stuff, which leads to a rumbling tummy midway through the night. I probably couldn’t drink more than two in an evening, as the sweetness and acidity would be a bit much.