Category Archives: Mixers

Review: Unwind Citrus Orange Relaxation Beverage

Unwind is another entry into the budding “relaxation” beverage category, imbued with additives designed not to pump you up (or get you drunk) but to knock you out after a long day.

Unwind counts among its ingredients valerian root, rose hips, acai, goji berry, passion flower, and that age-old calming standby, melatonin (with a whopping 3mg per 16-oz. can; the amounts of the other additives aren’t disclosed). It’s a relatively small ingredient list (not including the various B vitamins therein), and available in three flavor, citrus orange (reviewed here), pomegranate, and grape.

The flavor fortunately doesn’t outgun the bright orange color. The taste is fairly mild, more like a Tang than an orange drink, though the fizz feels strange in a late-night beverage, almost more like an Alka-Seltzer than a Coke. Overall, it’s not unpleasant. It’s also relatively low in sugar — 12 grams per can, which gives you just 50 calories.

After putting away about half a can (really, what more can you ask of me, people?), I’m feeling reasonably relaxed. I’m not exactly tired but I could certainly go to sleep if I was prodded in that direction.

One question before I nod off: For something you’re supposed to drink before bed, what’s the idea of putting this in a 16 ounce can? What restful sleeper wants to have to get up in the middle of the night to pee?

Update: Now available in 12 oz. cans (thanks to this review, by the by), and two additional flavors, goji grape and pom berry — the latter being my favorite of the trio.

B / $55 (shipped) per 24-pack of 16 oz. cans / frontierbeverage.com

Unwind Orange Review: Unwind Citrus Orange Relaxation Beverage

Review: Whipahol Whipped Lightning

Sadly we don’t have a category for this: Alcohol-infused, flavored whipped cream.

That crazy conjecture is what Whipahol’s Whipped Lightning is: Flavored cream (and it is cream, not non-dairy topping), injected with alcohol and compressed air to fluff it up. It’s available in nine flavors, none of which are “whipped cream.”

That’s because you need flavoring to cover up the heavy, heavy alcohol character here. 36.5 proof doesn’t sound like much, but for some reason in whipped form it’s overbearing. Dip a tiny tip of a spoon into Whipped Lightning to taste it and you’re likely to grimace from the Sterno-like alcoholic burn.

The idea of course is that you spray this stuff atop your Bailey’s or chocolate-flavored novelty shot (or, who knows, take it to the beach for co-ed betting purposes), making the drink’s presentation all the better while spiking the alcohol content further. Ultimately it’s more for show than for anything it adds to the flavor of a cocktail.

Mileage varies considerably for each flavor. Of the six versions I tried, Spiced Vanilla was the easiest to handle, while Tropical Passion was my least favorite of the bunch. To be sure, all the varieties are relatively muted when it comes to the flavors printed on the canister. In all forms, alcohol is the primary characteristic, and any secondary flavoring agent takes a backseat. A chemical aftertaste is common, which I suspect is due mainly to both the alcohol and the propellant.

I’m not giving this one a rating; the idea is too brain-addling to even fathom one. And yet, if you’re really out-there with your mixology and abuse to your liver (refrigeration is not required nor even recommended), why not keep a can on hand. You know, for kicks?

$10 per 375ml can / whippedlightning.com

Tropical Passion whipped lightning Review: Whipahol Whipped Lightning

Review: The Cedar Door Mexican Martini Mix

As a longtime Austin resident, I cut my teeth on Mexican Martinis, a variant on the Margarita which uses a little more tequila, a little more triple sec, and an olive garnish. Served on the rocks or on the stem — and typically with another drink in a small shaker placed next to your glass.

The debate will likely rage forever on whether The Cedar Door or Trudy’s, both Austin landmarks, is the true “home” of the drink — but The Cedar Door is upping the ante on the argument by releasing its own Mexican Martini mix, a 34 ounce bottle of yellow stuff to which you add tequila, triple sec, and a little lime. Change up the recipe and you’ve got a Margarita if you prefer. Both are printed on the side of the bottle.

Now I’m a skeptic who wouldn’t normally use any premade mix to make a drink, but I have to give The Cedar Door some credit here: Despite the scary color, this stuff is quite good, not too sweet like so many Margarita mixes, and not at all saccharine. The resulting drinks have the right balance of sweet and sour and they taste completely fresh (and the color of the finished drink is right, too). I daresay the Mexican Martini version, complete with a gaggle of olives, is the best way to go here. It’s like a blast from the past. Serve on a hot day. With chips and salsa, please.

Refrigerate after opening.

A- / $6 per 34-ounce bottle / cedardooraustin.com

cedar door Mexican Martini Review: The Cedar Door Mexican Martini Mix

Review: Crunk!!! Energy Drink and Energy Stix

We have Drank, why not have Crunk!!! too?

While “crunk” is technically a combination of “crazy” and “drunk,” Crunk!!! (yes, three exclamation points) contains no alcohol. It is rather another energy drink loaded with caffeine, inositol, green tea leaf, damiana, licorice, guarana, l-tyrosine, horny goat weed, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, grape seed extract, skull cap, white willow, and (whew) ashwaganda (which is specifically touted on the can).

While the folks behind Crunk!!! don’t make any medical claims, the ingredients in each can promise to aid memory, well-being, virility, calmness, aches, pain, and more. Not exactly anything we’d consider “crunk-like,” but no matter… it’s just a name, right?

crunk energy stix 176x300 Review: Crunk!!! Energy Drink and Energy StixAvailable in five flavors, each 16 oz. can is lightly carbonated and has 240 calories and 96mg of caffeine. (There’s also Energy Stix… more on that later.)

Crunk!!! Original is flavored with pomegranate but has a distinct overly sweetened and cloying cough syrup character to it. Perhaps it’s just what the average Crunk!!! fan desires? Not terribly enticing. D+

Crunk!!! Grape-Acai is better but quite sour, and fans of grape-flavored drink will likely find it not sweet enough for regular consumption. Tolerable, though. C+

Crunk!!! Mango-Peach is a fairly winning combination of flavors. The taste is light and reasonably fruity. I could see finishing this whole can if I had to. B

Crunk!!! Citrus is the lemon-lime version, but it’s closer to Mountain Dew than 7-Up. Powerful bitterness on the finish; the fruit juice in this one just can’t overpower the herbs and additives. C

Crunk!!! Low Carb Sugar Free is the diet version of Crunk!!! Original, with just 10 calories instead of 240. Sadly, it smells altogether awful (think a football field after a long rainstorm) and tastes only marginally better. D-

Crunk!!! Energy Stix is another beast altogether. These Pixie Stix-like packs are designed to be ripped open and dropped right on your tongue. I tried one (10 calories) and found it to be only mildly unpleasant, though the powder is easy to inhale and can give you a bit of a headache. C+ / $3 for pack of two sticks

As for the “rush,” I’d say all forms of Crunk!!! have a pretty standard caffeine hit, and contrary to the company’s claims there is a crash some hours later.

$44 for case of 24 16-oz. cans / crunkenergydrink.com

crunk energy drink Review: Crunk!!! Energy Drink and Energy Stix

Review: Bacardi Classic Cocktails Strawberry Daiquiri and Pina Colada

So-called “instant” cocktails don’t have to be bad. I mean, they usually are, but they don’t have to be.

Bacardi, which makes a pretty good instant mojito, has now released two new pre-mixed cocktail flavors, a strawberry daiquiri and a pina colada. As with the mojito flavor, these use real ingredients, not malt liquor and artificial flavors (well, not just artificial flavors), in the mix. Just pour over ice and you’re ready to go (and leftovers have to go in the fridge). Both are 30 proof. Here’s how they measure up.

Bacardi Strawberry Daiquiri suffers from the curse of most strawberry-flavored spirits products in that it tastes awfully saccharine and cough syrupy. Something akin to Hi-C, this concoction is bright pink (not red), you might not believe that this has real rum, lime, sugar, and strawberries in it. It’s not really bad, but anyone expecting something truly tropical will be disappointed. This tastes more like a cosmopolitan than anything else I can think of. C+ / $14

Bacardi Pina Colada is made from rum, pineapple, and real coconut water. Sounds good so far, and sure enough this bad boy is a much bigger success. While the color is more of a translucent, milky white and not the rich, creamy pearl of a real pina colada, it’s close enough for a quickie. The flavor is heavy on the pineapple, with coconut in more of a supporting role, but both are there and both are authentic, with no chemical grossness to be found. It may not quite look the part (blending it with ice will probably be more effective, but more work), it at least tastes about right. B+ / $14

bacardi.com

bacardi strawberry and pina colada Review: Bacardi Classic Cocktails Strawberry Daiquiri and Pina Colada

Review: The Perfect Puree Beverage Artistry Mixers

The Perfect Puree has recently added a series of pre-blended mixes of primarily fruit juice, simple syrup, and other goodies to its pre-squeezed fruit juice base offerings, a collection which ranges from banana to strawberry.

Beverage Artistry’s “Premium Blends” offer eight bases you can use to make high-end cocktails without having to buy, cut, squeeze, and blend an endless supply of fruits for their juice… and where does one obtain fresh passion fruit or yuzu, anyway?

Here are thoughts on the entire line of eight Beverage Artistry mixers, which I’ve spent the last several months toying with on their own and in a variety of cocktails. Life is rough.

Mixers must be refrigerated and can be frozen before use (or for use in blended drinks).

Rum Runner – a mix of banana, pineapple, orange, blackberry, and key lime juices — quite delicious, but lends itself (as the name implies) to alcohol-heavy cocktails; beware of over-spiking! A-

El Corazon – passion fruit, pomegranate, and blood orange – a real winner, lovely tropical flavors, and very versatile; tastes authentic and yummy; my favorite of the bunch. A

Mojito – mostly lime – a little too mild; I wouldn’t go out of my way to use this mix when real lime and mint isn’t that hard to obtain. B+

White Sangria – pineapple, peach, tangerine, lemon, and lime – pleasant tasting but a bit too sweet, even for sangria; oddly, too heavy-handed with the lime. B

Red Sangria - apple, pear, strawberry, orange, passion fruit, lime, and elderflower – hardly a traditional sangria mix, and also too sweet; very tropical in flavor, and a little goes a long way in your wine. B

Passion Colada – coconut, pineapple, and passion fruit – quite tasty, with good tropical and coconut flavor, but the yellowish color of the mix can tend toward unappealing. B+

Yuzu Luxe Sour – yuzu, Meyer lemon, key lime, and tangerine – tart and complex; more versatile than you might think, and quite good. A-

Classic Sweet & Sour – sugar, lemon, lime, and orange – extremely green due to food coloring, and way, way, way too sweet, not enough sour. B-

each $25 per quart (32 oz.) / perfectpuree.com

the perfect puree beverage artistry mixers Review: The Perfect Puree Beverage Artistry Mixers

Review: AMP Energy Juice

You’ve undoubtedly heard the radio commercials by now. AMP is billed as “the spark that ignites and kick-starts the day,” 100 percent juice with added caffeine and other pick-me-ups. Basically a way to drink Red Bull in the morning without the embarassment.

AMP comes in two flavors, both featuring 100% juice plus taurine, guarana, caffeine, lycopene, and some of your standard vitamins (C, E, Niacin, B6, B5, and Pantothenic Acid).

AMP Orange is actually a mix of orange and white grape juice and it’s clear from the first sip that it’s not all orange. In fact, it’s pretty watery, and doesn’t really taste very orange-like. It’s not unpleasant, but the effect is more of an “orange drink” than real juice — though at least it’s easy to knock down. B

AMP Mixed Berry may surprise you, as it’s also made up of… orange and white grape juice, plus artificial and natural flavors. It’s tart and saccharine tasting, much less palatable than the orange version — and mixed berry only in the sense that there are vague fruit flavors mixed into the bottle. C-

Your pick-me-up mileage may vary.

about $3 per 12-oz. bottle / ampenergy.com

Review: Tequila Tamer Sangrita

Whenever I drink tequila, I love to have it with a shot of sangrita on the side. The problem: You’ll only find sangrita on the menu at fancier Mexican restaurants and tequila bars. I presume most Mexican joints don’t sell it not because it’s hard to make but because most diners have no idea what it is, and would presume that someone misspelled “sangria” on the menu.

Sangrita, like pasta sauces and salsas, comes in infinite varieties and its recipe is often a closely-guarded secret by its creators. The recipe comes down to various citrus juices plus chiles or hot sauce. The inclusion of tomato juice is a hotly contested topic. Most sangritas that I’ve encountered include it — and I think it enhances the character of the drink. Either way, you consume it in alternate sips with your quality tequila, as they are each meant to enhance the experience of the other.

This lesson is a long way of telling you that Tequila Tamer is a bottled sangrita. Now any tequila enthusiast would tell you that the only way to go is to make your own sangrita from scratch, but I’ll be honest: Tequila Tamer is pretty good for a premixed sangrita. It’s heavy on citrus, light on the spice, and light on the tomato (although tomato juice is the first ingredient). It’s sweeter than most sangritas, probably due to the inclusion of pomegranate syrup instead of pomegranate juice, but my suspicion is that this allows the sangrita to keep from spoiling longer. It also makes it a little too berry-flavored for my liking, but on the whole it’ll do in a pinch.

B / $15 per 32 oz. bottle (with party tray and glasses shown below, $140) / tequilatamer.com

tequila tamer Review: Tequila Tamer Sangrita

Review: RedEye Texas Style Bloody Mary Mixes

There’s no shame in using a mix to start your Bloody Mary. The last thing any hangover-inflicted drinker wants to deal with on a Sunday morning is tracking down the various and sometimes esoteric ingredients that go into the typical Bloody recipe. Pick your favorite mix, drop a bottle in the fridge, and don’t worry about it.

RedEye produces six various mixes, all natural with an awful lot of tomato, pepper, and other spices. It’s a good looking mix, with visible spice bits in a thick base. We tried four of the six available varieties. Comments follow.

RedEye Original: Plenty of spice. Thick, big tomato sauce flavor. Good kick, all around solid, with a very traditional, if hot, Bloody Mary flavor. B+

RedEye Outlaw: Perhaps a touch thinner in consistency. Spicier, with red-pepper kick. Maybe 30 percent hotter than the Original if you’re looking for more more spice in your Bloody. The thinner consistency is actually easier to deal with. A-

RedEye Horseradish: You can definitely smell the horseradish, from a distance even. But overall it’s less spicy than the Outlaw version. About the same overall heat as the Original. Return to the thicker consistency. Similar flavor and texture to the Original, with a slight twist. B+

RedEye Habanero: Not nearly as hot as I’d expected it would be based on the promise of the hottest generally-available pepper in the mix, just a general warming as you sip it. Maybe 10 percent hotter than the Original, but the flavor is not as pleasant, with a tinge of bitterness to it. B

each $7 per quart / redeyebrand.com

redeye bloody mary mixes Review: RedEye Texas Style Bloody Mary Mixes

Samovar’s Valentine’s Day Romance Tea Set

I like tea. I would like to drink more tea. Maybe a loved one should give me something like this for Valentine’s Day to encourage said tea drinking.*

Samovar Tea Lounge bundles three of its most “seductive and sensuous” teas into one box, offering four-ounce cans of each along with a mesh infuser that fits in your mug. The three teas are all pretty good: Maiden’s Ecstasy, a Pu-erh tea, is perhaps my favorite of the trio, rich and earthy but lightly sweet. The green tea, Jasmine Pearl, is traditional in flavor but comes packed into little balled-up leaves that unfold as they steep. Finally there’s Wild Rose Bai Mudan, which includes wild grasses and rose petals — not my favorite as it’s overly perfumy, but not a bad change of pace vs. chamomile.

*Loved ones please do not give me this. I already have it.

$79 / samovarlife.com

Samovar Gift Box Samovars Valentines Day Romance Tea Set

Review: Allday Energy Shot

All day I’ve felt barely awake… so an “energy shot” was probably in order to feel awake enough to make it through the evening.

Allday Energy (their spelling) relies on L-Carnitine, L-Arginine, and D-Ribose — three things I’ve never heard of — to pump you up. Presumably lots of caffeine, too.

Naturally, that comes at a price. While the company claims it is delicious, Allday Energy is really quite awful, like cough syrup mixed with Kool-Aid… a difficult combination to stomach. I got it down eventually and, I’m happy to report, I finally woke up… but that might also have been thanks to the three pieces of pizza I sucked down. (And yet, I can still taste the Allday Energy, several hours later.)

Based on this limited testing, I can’t tell you if Allday Energy is any better at waking you up than other energy shots… but I can assure you it is one of the less delicious shots out there.

B- / $2.99 per 2 oz. shot / alldayenergy.net

allday energy Review: Allday Energy Shot

Review: Fever Stimulation Beverages

Tonight you’ll be consuming vast quantities of alcohol (remember one for your homies at Drinkhacker, y’all), so what better way to prep for the festivities than by downing something to up the level of your game.

That’s the theory, anyway, of Fever, which aims to “Make Healthy Sexy,” with its collection of herbal, non-carbonated beverages designed to “stimulate the body.” (Some say that’s code for aphrodisiac… you be the judge.)

They aren’t energy drinks, mind you, but herbal-infused concoctions that include such ingredients as Epidmedium brevicornum Maxim DeL, Clavo Huasca, and Pfaffia paniculata MK. Mostly exotic herbs, they’re designed to promote “pleasure, euphoria, and anti-oxidation.”

Three versions are currently on the market, each with natural caffeine from green tea and containing 260 calories in each (very, very cold) 16-oz. can.

Mango Banana tastes like neither of its namesakes, but it has a chalky texture and a muted banana finish that makes it at least hint at the yellow fruit. All versions of Fever have a bit of bitterness to them — almost certainly the result of all the herbal infusions — hence the need for big fruit flavors to make them more palatable. Mango and banana may not be enough. C

Kiwi Strawberry packs a more teen-friendly punch, berry in the body but with a raisin-like finish that makes it a bit less pleasant. C-

Pineapple Coconut is arguably my favorite of this bunch, a pina colada wannabe that is hefty on the coconut, which helps to mask some of those bitter herbal notes. B

As for the functional claims of the drink, ultimately I’m feeling about as “stimulated” as usual… but mostly I just want to find something to get this taste out of my mouth.

each $2.50 per 16-oz. can / feverusa.com

fever stimulation beverage Review: Fever Stimulation Beverages

Review: Cuca Fresca Cachaca and Caipirinha

It’s been a while — too long, perhaps — since we sampled a new cachaca at Drinkhacker HQ, but Cuca Fresca has arrived to our watering palates.

Cuca Fresca Cachaca - This unaged Brazilian rum is intensely fragrant, filling the room with sweet lime notes. The body is more typical of cachaca, with that smoky character that all young cachaca tends to have, but it’s balanced by a good amount of sweetness and citrus. The finish is light and even refreshing, something I rarely say about cachaca. A great choice for starting your caipirinhas. 80 proof. A- / $18

Cuca Fresca Classic Caiprinha – Don’t want the trouble of mixing lime and sugar with your cachaca to make a caiprinha? Pour this pre-mixed version directly on the rocks. This 44-proof concoction claims only natural ingredients — cachaca, lime, and sugar (which settles on the bottom of the bottle — shake well!) — so I had awfully high hopes. It certainly doesn’t taste bad, but it’s a little heavy on the sweet and doesn’t have enough lime for my tastes. It’ll work in a pinch, but it’s unfortunately not really a substitute for the real deal. (When is it ever?) Note that the cork-topped bottle tends to leak when shaken. Cuidado! B / $18 per 1-liter bottle

cucafrescaspirit.com

Cuca Fresca Premium Cachaça Review: Cuca Fresca Cachaca and Caipirinha

Review: Purista Instant Mojito Mixes

Premixed cocktails are always a dicey proposition, and Purista’s two new mixers probably aren’t going to win any overnight fans.

Offering two spins on a theme — a traditional Mojito and a Blackberry Mojito — these mixes promise they are “hand-crafted” creations made with premium ingredients: In the case of the former, all-natural ingredients including sugar cane juice, mint leaves, key lime juice, and natural flavors.

Surprise then that, when mixed in the proportions recommended by the bottle (1 part mix, 1 part white rum, 2 parts club soda), a Purista Mojito doesn’t taste like much. In my experiments, it mostly tasted like club soda, maybe with the lightest touch of rum and lime. Really no mint at all. Doubling up on Purista mix helped, but quickly caused me to overdo it, turning the normally refreshing mojito cocktail into something far too sweet — and again, lacking in mintiness. C+

The Blackberry Mojito mix (a deep purple which adds blackberry juice as its only additional ingredient) is even less forgiving, sour in small proportions and worse in larger ones. While the standard Purista can be doctored, this one doesn’t work no matter what you do to it. D+

$10 per 750ml bottle / puristacocktails.com

Review: Mini Chill and iChill “Relaxation Shots”

Energy is for sissies. The future is all about the chillax.

Little two-ounce plastic shots filled with caffeine, taurine, and other ‘ines are all the rage, but the newer phenomenon is shots designed not to pump you up but to cool you down.

Two boxes of these things arrived on virtually the same day, both with “Chill” in the name. It’s probably recklessly irresponsible to down this much chilling power all at once, but that’s why we’re here: So you don’t have to. Here’s what it’s like to be this “chill.”

mini chill shot Review: Mini Chill and iChill Relaxation ShotsMini Chill Relaxation “Natural Stress Relief” includes Valerian Root, GABA, L-Theanine, and 5-HTP. I don’t know what most of that stuff is, but I do know it’s purple. The flavor is berry-like but mild, very lightly sweet via a light touch of sucralose, and actually pretty easy to drink. Do I feel relaxed after polishing one off? Yes, but I’m barely awake enough to finish typing this as it is. Nothing to do with the beer, I’m sure. B+ / $36 for twelve 2-oz. bottles / minichill.com

iChill Relaxation Shot “Blissful Berry” is a much different formulation, including Vitamins B3, B6, B12, B5, Valerian Root, Rose Hips, and Melatonin. While Mini Chill purports to be non-drowsy in its formulation, iChill specifically suggests it might knock you out. That’s if you can finish it off. The taste of iChill is horrible, to be honest, oversweetened to oblivion with a Stevia-based additive, with a bitter finish and a phony berry character. Tastes like medicine. Chilling medicine. D+ / $37.50 for twelve 2-oz. bottles / ichill.com

Does this stuff work? Maybe. But frankly a Melatonin or Valerian Root tablet might do you just as much good if you’re feeling a little too wired.

Review: Tribeca Light Pre-Mixed Cocktails

Pre-mixed, bottled cocktails that include alcohol continue to make a splash. Tribeca Light’s tactic: Do it all with a low-calorie approach; the label promises that a glass of a Tribeca-tail packs just half the calories of a standard cocktail.

Naturally, some sacrifices may be in order… the promise of a “sophisticated taste in a natural juice malt cocktail” is certainly not the most enticing come-on I’ve ever received, and Tribeca’s faux-deco, ’80s-styled packaging doesn’t really prepare one for the top shelf, either.

Tribeca Light premix cocktails Review: Tribeca Light Pre Mixed CocktailsUltimately what we have here is a malt beverage in the Smirnoff Ice mode, one created with natural juices… plus artificial colors and artificial sweetener. Tribeca Light mixes proudly proclaim they contain alcohol, but at 10.2% alcohol each, they don’t contain much…

Three flavors are now being introduced. Here are thoughts on the full lineup.

Tribeca Light Mojito packs a lot of lime in, and just a little mint kick. The malt-bev base isn’t easy to miss, with that boozy kind of finish that comes off as bulkish. The sweetener, though, is the problem. It’s probably sucralose, with that overpowering saccharine aftertaste that the stuff always leaves in your mouth. B-

Tribeca Light Margarita tastes little like a freshly-made margarita. If you’re a fan of super-sweet margarita mix with a little splash of booze in it, well, you’ll love Tribeca Light’s rendition. C-

Tribeca Light Pomegranate Martini is a close approximation of what you’d get if you mixed cough syrup and Zima together and let it go flat. Mmmmm…. D

pricing TBD / tribecalight.com

Review: CurrantC Black Currant Nectar

I can’t speak to the claim that “black currants have twice the antioxidants of blueberries,” but as mixers go, CurrantC actually works well for those looking to up the health quotient of their intake, alcoholic or not.

CurrantC is, as the name suggests, nectar of black currants, 43% juice and the rest water and agave syrup. A 16 oz. bottle contains 300 calories and (yow) 68 grams of sugar, which might explain why it tastes so good. Sweet and surprisingly thick, it’s tart but not super-sour the way straight cranberry or blueberry juice can be.

Oddly, while CurrantC comes in six flavors, they all taste about the same. I couldn’t detect much influence of Passion Fruit or Blueberry in the various renditions, but regardless of their lack of individuality, they all come across as solid products.

B+ / $4.29 per 16-oz. bottle / currantc.com

currantc group shot Review: CurrantC Black Currant Nectar

Review: Cocaine Energy Drink

You don’t name your beverage “Cocaine” because it’s subtle. Banned in numerous jurisdictions (despite the warning on the label that the product does not in fact include cocaine nor is it intended to be used a substitute for any street drug (“and anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot”)), Cocaine is intended to raise eyebrows and encourage the interest of thrill-seekers.

But really, what energy drink isn’t?

Sold in the usual 250ml cans, Cocaine comes in two main varieties (plus a sugar-free version, which I didn’t try). The blue Cocaine Mild is a pink, easy-drinking concoction, fragrant with sweet strawberry character but quite a bit chalky. It’s saltier than I’d expected but not oppressively so — a bit like Gatorade, if it has been blended with some jam. B

The red-can version, Cocaine Spicy Hot, is the slightest bit more red in color and, indeed, is spicy hot as the name suggests. There’s basic fruit and berry flavor, but a jalepeno-like heat overwhelms the drink. Some may find this exhilarating, but it really makes the drink hard to down casually. Perhaps that’s the point — to limit intake — but I figure it actually helps make Spicy Hot a better mixer than a straight-outta-the-can experience. B-

For both versions, additives include taurine, inositol, vitamins B6, B12, and C, L-Camitine, and D-Ribose. A whopping 280mg of caffeine rounds out each can.

about $2 per 8.4-oz. can / drinkcocaine.com

cocaine energy drink Review: Cocaine Energy Drink

Review: Burnett’s Cocktails

More pre-mixed, ready-to-pour cocktail offerings, this time from Burnett’s which turns out some 20 vodkas and gins in every flavor imaginable. With these three concoctions, Burnett’s turns its vodkas into three simple bar standbys.

All are 30 proof and come in big, plastic 1.75-liter jugs. They are intended to be served on the rocks, but all must be refrigerated after opening.

Burnett’s Cosmo is made with vodka, natural flavors (cranberry juice and triple sec), and artificial colors, and it’s a perfectly credible rendition of the classic cosmopolitan. Like day-glo Kool-Aid, it’s a cosmo through and through, with a lightly cranberry fruit flavor and a little vodka kick. It’s a bit too sweet for my tastes — not that I drink a lot of cosmos — but I expect the target audience won’t really mind. B+

Burnett’s Margarita is a standard tequila recipe, with tequila, lime juice, triple sec, and vodka. Wait, what? Yeah, it’s a vodka+tequila margarita, which likely explains why there’s very little tequila character here. As with the Cosmo, it’s very sweet but not overly so. You can taste the lime and orangey triple sec, with really just a hint of tequila’s agave. Arguably best with salt, which keeps things more interesting. B-

Burnett’s Mojito is even stranger: It’s a mojito made without rum. Vodka stands in with lime juice and a “hint of mint” here to produce what is a strange little concoction. It isn’t bad. The mint is more than a hint, but it’s not particularly minty — almost evergreen, actually. The lack of rum is definitely not something that passes by without notice, and again that wild sweetness grabs hold as you sip the drink. Again, not bad, but a little strange compared to a real mojito — or even Bacardi’s pre-mixed version. C+

$16 per 1.75-liter bottle / burnettsvodka.com

Review: Southern Comfort Sweet Tea and Hurricane Cocktails

Let’s be frank. Southern Comfort has a difficult reputation. Everyone I know has a story involving the peach-flavored liqueur, and it usually ends up with a blackout or someone’s head being shaved against their will.

Hey, it’s party booze. Nothin’ wrong with that.

SoCo is expanding its little empire with the craze du jour — premixed cocktails. As with many of these, no doctoring is intended. You just fill a glass with ice, pour in the stuff, and drink away.

Two flavors are launching, and we got to try a handle of each. Both are 30 proof and come in 1.75 liter bottles.

Southern Comfort Sweet Tea Cocktail is meant to evoke the flavors of sweet tea, a natural fit considering SoCo’s southern roots. The peachiness of SoCo is upfront here, a good slug of that apricot-like, sweet peach, with a backbone of tea. I don’t want to undersell it: It’s got a ton of peach flavor to it, which may be a turn-off for you if you’re looking for an authentic tea character. Ultimately I far prefer something like Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka with water and ice than this, but in a pinch it’ll do. Try adding a little water to cut down on the overpowering peach character. B-

Southern Comfort Hurricane Cocktail has an authentic, day-glo red color, but again it’s so peachy you won’t be reminded of those slurries served in every quickie-mart in New Orleans. Maybe that’s a good thing, dunno. Imagine SoCo mixed with a can of Big Red and you’ll have a sense of what drinking this concoction is like. Some cherry, some orange. Lots of peach, even more sweetness. Again, this all improves if you let the ice melt a lot or add water, but this one’s a bit tougher to recommend. C

$20 each per 1.75-liter bottle / southerncomfort.com

southern comfort hurrican sweet tea cocktail Review: Southern Comfort Sweet Tea and Hurricane Cocktails