Category Archives: Mixers

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

Drinking Ginger Beer with Fever-Tree’s Tim Warrillow

What’s that hot kick in your typical ginger beer from? If you said ginger, you’re probably wrong: Many brands put cheap chili pepper oils in their brews to give them that kick, which is why so many come off as hot, but not particularly spicy in the way that real ginger is.

That’s just one of the insights I was granted by Tim Warrillow, a co-founder of Fever-Tree, whose artisinal mixers (particularly its tonic water) are the bottles of choice for discriminating drinkers.

We reviewed the company’s Ginger Ale previously — and in the next few weeks (late July 2009) Fever-Tree will finally bring its long-awaited Ginger Beer to the U.S. (It’s already the company’s #2 selling product in the UK, after tonic water.)

Warrillow brought a four-pack by today and we compared his new offering with standbys, including Reed’s, Bundaberg, and the new Gosling’s.

Warrillow’s pride is wholly appropriate. As much as I liked Gosling’s compared to its competition at the time, Fever-Tree runs rings around this brew to the point where I’m almost embarrassed. Intensely spicy with an amazing flavor of fresh ginger, you can actually see bits of ginger floating in the bottle. It’s almost translucent, there’s so much of it in there. By comparison, Reed’s honey-and-pineapple-sweetened ginger beer is pathetic, and the other two ginger beers tasted were effectively weaklings.

That translates to throat-warming heat and lots of it, with a lasting finish that is really quite delicious. But Fever-Tree Ginger Beer isn’t a one-man show. It’s perfectly sweetened (with cane sugar, not corn syrup), and is equally palatable on its own as it is with rum (the Dark & Stormy) or vodka (the Moscow Mule). Or, hell, whatever else you want to throw in there. Fever-Tree’s new brew can stand up to anything, I assure you.

A+ / $5.69 (estimated) for four-pack of 6.8-oz. bottles / fever-tree.com

Snapple Goes Natural

The call it the Best Stuff on Earth. Hyperbole, perhaps, but at least that now means it’s not loaded with corn syrup.

That’s right: Snapple has the “natural” bug, undergoing what the company calls the most significant makeover in its 37-year history, replacing corn syrup with natural cane sugar. (Previous “natural” claims got Snapple into legal trouble…) Depending on the variety, calories are reduced up to 20 percent in the process.

I’m trying two varieties — Green Tea and Peach Tea — and find both refreshing and completely lacking in any harsh chemical character. The Peach is appropriately sweet, lightly flavored (“natural flavors” and citric acid are the only ingredients beyond water, tea, and sugar) and with a good dose of fresh tea flavor (both black and green tea leaves are used). A 16-ounce bottle has 180 calories but (yikes) 45 grams of sugar.

The Green Tea is a little closer to something you might call healthy — 131 calories and just 33 grams of sugar in a 17.5-ounce bottle. Full of fresh, natural, green tea flavor and slightly less sugary, but still sweet.

I haven’t tried enough of the Snapple Natural varieties to offer a full grade or review, but am enjoying what I’ve tasted so far. (I wanted to compare them to the old, corn-syrup Snapples, but they all seem to have vanished from the market already.) Try one for yourself and see how you think the new Snapple stacks up!

$1.50 to $2 per bottle / snapple.com [BUY IT HERE]

snapple tea natural Snapple Goes Natural

Review: Señor Sangria

Pre-mixed, bottled sangria can be a dicey proposition. I mean, is it that hard to make good sangria yourself?

Well, yes, yes it is. That’s why you never make it at home, lardo — you’re too lazy. And you’ve got to have lots of fresh fruit handy. And a knife.

Screw that and pop open a bottle of Señor Sangria, a brand new sangria from a brand new company that tastes as good as the home-made hooch. You’ll taste the difference immediately: Señor Sangria may not be made out of Chateau Petrus, but the generally good quality of the starter wine is apparent. That’s good because Señor Sangria isn’t as sweet or as fruit-bombed as many sangrias tend to be. Here the wine — hearty and rich, not overly fruity — is the main player. Sugar has been added with an even hand, and the additional citrus flavors aren’t overpowering, light citrus, apple, maybe some cherry — though of course it’s hard to tell what characteristics are coming from the wine itself instead of added fruit.

Uncomplicated to be sure, this is nonetheless good, easygoing stuff, perfect for sipping by the pool barefoot — which is exactly how I’m enjoying it, suckers! Ridiculously inexpensive, too.

8% alcohol by volume.

A- / $9 (750ml bottle) / senorsangria.com

senor sangria Review: Señor Sangria

Review: Avitae Caffeinated Water

Take water. Add caffeine. You have just made Avitae, “energy water,” and officially written as “ávitãe” (but with a long dash over the second “a” instead of a tilde, can’t make ‘em with HTML).

Avitae’s promise is simple: You get purified water with 45mg of natural caffeine added (putting it in the same ballpark as your typical 12-oz. soft drink), no flavors of any kind, and no aftertaste. For the most part it lives up to that promise. This is very clean, clear water, with only the tiniest hint of a bitter aftertaste present — kind of like the flavor you get when you chew up an aspirin. But seriously, you have to strain to pick that out.

I’m not thrilled about the bottle shape, a cone-shaped design that, when wet (as with condensation straight out of the fridge), is prone to slipping in a floor-ward direction. The plastic is also very thin and makes weird noises when you squeeze it. Hey, maybe that means it’s good for the environment though.

B+ / $25 for 16 500ml bottles / avitae45.com [BUY IT HERE]

avitae water Review: Avitae Caffeinated Water

Review: Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer

goslings ginger beer Review: Goslings Stormy Ginger BeerThe canonical recipe for the Dark & Stormy cocktail calls for Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and Barritts Ginger Beer. The folks at Gosling’s are no fools though — they figure they can horn in on the other half of the D&S equation by making the ginger beer as well. To wit, they’ve spent the last year perfecting their own ginger beer recipe, with a specific eye toward making a companion for Black Seal to be used in this classic mixed drink.

The tagline “a refreshing zip of ginger” is wholly appropriate: This is a classic ginger beer, nicely sweet on first sip then bracing with a hefty dose of fresh ginger flavor. The bite is moderate to strong but fades quickly. It really is just right: Several steps above a regular ginger ale, but not overpowering like too many ginger beer brands which are busy trying to impress you with how much ginger root they can cram into the bottle. Carbonation level is spot-on, too.

Just now trickling onto the market. Give it a try if you find it — available exclusively in 12-oz. cans.

A / price TBD / goslingsrum.com

World’s Worst Diet: Red Bull for Eight Months

There are bad diet ideas, and then there’s this one: A woman lost 99 pounds over the course of eight months by consuming a diet consisting solely of up to 14 cans of Red Bull a day, “often accompanying them with nothing more than a handful of dry Honey Puffs.”

From Stuff.co.nz:

“I just continued to drink it because it’s an appetite suppressant and I noticed I was losing weight so stuck with it.”

Ms Robertson said she managed to keep her addiction secret from family and friends, and did not recover from it until after a two-week stay in hospital following a minor heart attack.

She’s better now.. except for a heart murmur and ongoing stomach and bowel cramps. And frequent anxiety attacks.

Review: Zico Coconut Water

“Nature’s sports drink,” they call it: Spiked with natural electrolytes, tons of potassium, no fat or added sugar, it’s the water of the coconut, familiar to most of us only as it regards the consumption of the occasional beachside piña colada.

Zico aims to get thirsty athletes and yoga enthusiasts drinking more of the stuff, by dropping the juice into aseptic, single-serve packages that are, if nothing else, more convenient than cracking open an actual coconut for the liquid within.

Zico comes in a straight coconut version and two flavored editions, one passion fruit with orange peel and one mango.

How does one evaluate Zico? Put simply, if you like coconut water you’ll love Zico: The unadulterated Zico is quite sweet and redolent of coconut flavor. The aroma, however, is a little funky, as all coconut water tends to be, that kind of musty note that some will find difficult to get past. The mango and passion fruit + orange peel versions are, surprisingly, not as sweet as the standard version, but I enjoyed the passion fruit one the most, which was richer in fruit flavor than the mango and did a pretty good job of balancing everything asked of it.

Mind the shelf life if you buy a case: It expires relatively quickly.

B- / $24 for twelve 11-oz. units / zico.com or buy it from Amazon

zico coconut water Review: Zico Coconut Water

Review: Pepsi Natural

With little fanfare, Pepsi Natural seems to have abruptly arrived on store shelves: I found a small stack of the new, all-natural version of Pepsi in my local Safeway, on sale for $2.99 for a four-pack of 12-oz. glass bottles. (Regular price: $3.99.)

Of course I had to buy it so I could review the stuff.

It truly is a natural product (though be clear, with 38 grams of sugar, it’s not something I’d call “healthy”): The ingredients include water, sugar, apple extract, caramel color (both for color), citric acid, caffeine, acacia gum, tartaric acid, lactic acid, natural flavor, and kola nut extract, in that order.

Foremost you’ll notice that Pepsi Natural is somewhat less carbonated than other soft drinks, which gives it less of a bracing rush and a lighter, smoother taste. It’s certainly sweet, but not cloying, and it has some of that initial spiciness that makes regular Pepsi unmistakable at first sip. But as you drink it — and it goes down fast and easy — that spice evolves into more of a cinnamon character, and by the end of the bottle (or rather, well before the end) I was really enjoying the flavor and wishing for another glass.

I don’t normally drink standard Pepsi — I find it too chemical-tasting and metallic — but this reimagination is not bad at all. It’s already on my short list of favorite sodas, and even if you’re a Pepsi-hater, I suggest you give it a try.

So, Coke… where’s yours?

A- / pepsi.com

pepsi natural Review: Pepsi Natural

Zuvo: The Water Purifier from the Future!

By now everyone knows how terrible bottled water is, environmentally speaking, churning out 18 godzillion pounds of trashed plastic bottles and belching 430 quadrazillion tons of greenhouse gas into the air as bottles are shipped around the world.

But what if your tap water tastes like crap? Then what are you supposed to do?

Purifiers are great, but a lot of times they don’t work so well. I have the luxury of having tap water that tastes pretty good as it is, but the built-in purifier in my fridge actually makes the water taste like onions. Yeah, it’s cold, but jeez. Onions!

Enter Zuvo. This filter sits on the countertop and attaches directly to the faucet. Setup takes just minutes, provided you have a wrench handy and a plug, as the Zuvo requires AC power to operate.

Zuvo cleans water in several ways: with ozone (purportedly an oxidant that destroys contaminants without chemical residue), with ultraviolet light (water is exposed to UV twice during the purification process), and with a standard activated carbon filter. It’s actually pretty cool to watch: When powered on (by pulling the spigot on the faucet) the UV lamp lights up the transparent filter, which swirls the water around like a vortex. The kids really dig it.

So, how’s it taste? After setting up Zuvo and clearing it out for five minutes to let the charcoal settle, I can safely say the water that comes out of Zuvo tastes like nothing. Totally clear, totally pleasant — though the water that sits in the filter (about the size of one of those drive-through bank tube cylinders) hits room temperature after a while — you’ll need ice or have to let it run if you want your water chilled. Now my water doesn’t taste like much to begin with, but there is a very slight chlorine character in the standard tap water that Zuvo successfully wiped out. I expect if your water tastes worse, you’ll get even better mileage out of the unit.

Zuvo isn’t cheap — $275 — but over time it’s far more affordable than drinking bottled water. Definitely worth a look — this is a better alternative, in my opinion, than pitcher filters, which are a pain to fill and clean and which take up gobs of fridge space — and which don’t end up with water that tastes as clean as Zuvo’s. Give it a shot!

zuvowater.com – or buy Zuvo at Amazon.com

zuvo water purator Zuvo: The Water Purifier from the Future!

Review: Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade

Another entry into the growing market segment of ready-made cocktails, Smirnoff’s Tuscan Lemonade is a definite winner.

This isn’t syrupy corn-syrup sludge and requires no doctoring out of the bottle. It’s Smirnoff vodka, limoncello, and lemon juice (and probably a smattering of other, unspecified natural flavors), and a touch of artifical color.

The result: Far better than I could have imagined, a crisp and tart drink that tastes strongly of lemons and has a light touch of limoncello’s signature bitterness. While it’s nothing I’d describe as complex, it’s very refreshing served over ice, it’s incredibly, at a mere 30 proof, surprisingly drinkable, and, last but not least, ridiculously affordable, too.

A- / $13 / smirnoff.com

smirnoff tuscan lemonade1 Review: Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade

Review: Jones Soda GABA Lineup

The ever-innovating soda engineers at Jones have just put out a new line of four new beverages: Combinations of brewed tea and juice, not carbonated, and sweetened with cane sugar and natural flavors. The sell: All of the varieties include GABA, or Gamma Amino Butyric Acid, a “smart drug” neurotransmitter said to “improve mental focus, balance, and clarity, while reducing stress.”

Four varieties are available, all in 12-oz. “skinny” cans. Some thoughts on each of the quartet (pictured below in the order reviewed here). Don’t forget to shake well!

Fuji Apple – Very full of lightly tart apple flavor, like a fresh granny smith, not like the Mott’s you give the kids. Tea doesn’t come through on this one much at all, but that’s not really a criticism. I could see this mixing quite well in a cocktail. A-

Lemon Honey – This one doesn’t actually have a juice component, just tea. It’s very refreshing — very restrained on the lemon — and the tea flavor comes through well. It’s the closest in the lineup to a bottled tea, but not overly sweet or cloying. I like it a lot. This one’s 90 calories; the others are 80 cals. A

Nectarine – There’s a nice blend of juice and tea character here, but the orange nectarine notes aren’t as pronounced as, say, with the Fuji apple. Totally drinkable, but not my favorite of the bunch. B+

Grapefruit – The weakest of the bunch. I like grapefruit, but grapefruit and tea aren’t much of a combination, it turns out. As with the nectarine, the grapefruit flavor needs a little more punch. Again, drinkable, though. B

Now with four of these in me, what about that talk of the mental focus and de-stressing effects? To be honest, I feel pretty good, and reasonably sharp, but I would expect that on noon on a Friday anyway. Definitely not sluggish, despite not having any caffeine all day. One thing’s for sure though, after four cans of juice and tea I feel, how can I put it, extremely hydrated.

about $3 per 12-oz. can /jonesgaba.com

jones gaba lineup Review: Jones Soda GABA Lineup

Review: Code Blue Recovery Drink

Billed as “the world’s first complete recovery drink,” Code Blue launched earlier this year with the goal of pre-de-hangover-izing the youth of America. (As with most modern hangover remedies, the idea is to drink this stuff after drinking alcohol — or during, or even before — and you’ll feel fine the next day.) And I say youth because it’s unlikely a grown man would chug a bottle of this stuff the before bedtime. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.

Let’s start with the blue. The bottle you see is opaque, but it really needn’t be: Code Blue is the color of Windex, tinged darker perhaps with a bit of cobalt blue tempera paint.

Next there’s the taste. It’s fortunately not like Windex at all, but I’m struggling to describe it properly. Lots of sweetener (agave nectar) is the key component, with a vague, fruit-and-chemical aftertaste. Imagine Gatorade watered down then cut with vegetable oil and you’ll have an idea of what Code Blue tastes like. Take the company’s advice and drink it ice cold — preferably in a glass and on ice, as the bottle warms up quickly. When Code Blue rises past fridge temperature it loses its modest charms.

The ingredient list is full of healthy-sounding curiosities: reduced glutathione (a big antioxidant we’re told), prickly pear juice (promotes liver function), and a host of vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes (a proprietary blend). A 12-oz. bottle has no caffeine and just 60 calories. Oh, and I should point out that it’s not carbonated.

The big question, of course, is how well it works. On this point I should give Code Blue props. It isn’t easy to get a whole bottle down, but I found it did indeed help hangover symptoms — at least modestly — when consumed either at the end of the night or the next day. Of course it’s hard to say whether a glass of water and an Advil would have done the job just as well, but considering that Code Blue might actually be healthy to drink, I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

B- / $3.49 per 12-oz. bottle / drinkcodeblue.com

code blue recovery drink Review: Code Blue Recovery Drink

Review: Good Earth Coffee

Been checking out the three offerings from new organic coffee outfit Good Earth. Again, this isn’t a coffee-centric blog, but I drink enough of it to know a good cup from a bad one.

The Good Earth brand dates back to 1972, dedicated to healthy and delicious food and drink. Now delving into coffee, the 100% Arabica coffees are all blended from various sources — a medium-roast Sienna Blend from South America and Africa, a dark-roast Mystic Blend from South America and Asia, and a decaf Sedona Blend (dark or medium roast available) from South America only.

Good Earth’s major failing is that in all it’s blends it is too light in flavor. The Sienna Blend (rating: C) is extremely light, with just a bare hint of traditional coffee and light sweetness. The Mystic (rating: B) fares better, quite a bit smokier and offering some cocoa character, but a little charred and chalky on the finish. Tried the Sedona medium blend (not the dark), with similar comments as the Sienna (though perhaps with a slightly deeper flavor profile).

The coffees are widely available. Probably not to You may want to try a cup or two to see if they’re to your liking before you stock up on pounds of the stuff.

about $9 per 10-oz. bag / goodearthcoffee.com

good earth coffee Review: Good Earth Coffee

Review: Drinkin’ Mate Hangover Defense

There’s good news and bad news about Drinkin’ Mate, another entry into the growing category of hangover prevention remedies.

First the good: Compared to the field, Drinkin’ Mate is the best-tasting hangover preventer around. It’s an effervescent pill (like an Alka-Seltzer). Just drop it in a few ounces of water, and you get a fizzy, fruity drink that goes down pretty quickly and painlessly. Made primarily from guava leaf extract, it’s a bit tropical and a lot berry-like (the only version seems to be “wild berry flavor”), very sweet (thanks to shots of sorbitol and sucralose). Unlike some of those nasty, syrupy hangover cures, you won’t have to choke this one down before you go out. (The company also says you can take it after drinking to avoid a hangover.)

Now the bad news: For me, Drinkin’ Mate did absolutely nothing to prevent a hangover. The one I’ve been nursing today is the outright worst in recent memory, which makes me wonder how effective guava leaf could possibly be at fighting off the headache from a half-dozen glasses of whiskey and wine. The only other real active ingredient here is sodium bicarbonate, pretty tame stuff that would have no hope against a major alco-binge, at least it didn’t for me.

As always, these remedies are often a shot in the dark, and some work for some drinkers and not at all for others. Your mileage may vary, but while I didn’t get any benefit from Drinkin’ Mate, at least the act of drinking Drinkin’ Mate didn’t make me want to throw up on the spot.

C / $24 for 12 tablets / drinkinmate.com

drinkin mate Review: Drinkin Mate Hangover Defense

Review: Reed’s Raspberry Ginger Brew

Take a standard Reed’s Ginger Brew and add 20 percent raspberry juice and what do you get? A nicely refreshing drink that offers the best of both the ginger and fruit juice worlds.

To be honest, that 20 percent raspberry goes a long way, overpowering the ginger component more than you’d expect — although it doesn’t make a specifically raspberry impression, more of a vague red-berry character. It’s sweet but not cloying, with a big berry finish.

Worth a shot in lieu of standard ginger ale — or instead of cranberry juice — in any cocktail, just to see how it turns out… and also very pleasurable on its own.

A- / $19 for twelve 12 oz. bottles / reedsgingerbrew.com

reeds ginger raspberry brew Review: Reeds Raspberry Ginger Brew