Spiked seltzers are trendy right now, but in our experience many of them aren’t exactly packed with flavor. Crook & Marker, a health-conscious alcohol brand from Bai founder Ben Weiss, is trying to address that with their own spin on the original ready-to-drink classics, spiked tea and lemonade. But Twisted Tea or Mike’s Hard Lemonade these are most certainly not. Crook & Marker are sugar free (they’re made with Stevia), have less than 1 carb per can, are certified organic, and naturally sweetened. They are non-GMO and vegan. Hell, they’re even kosher.
We’ll get to the spiked lemonade later this summer, but today we’re kicking things off with a look at the spiked tea expressions from Crook & Marker, which come in a variety pack featuring lemon, peach, raspberry, and traditional sweet tea flavors. At 4% abv and less than 10 mg of natural caffeine in each can, the chances of incurring a Four Loko hangover are minimal here. Thoughts on each flavor follow.
Crook & Marker Spiked Sweet Tea – The aroma is lemon-forward, not artificial but not fresh-squeezed either, like the lemon juice you get out of that lemon-shaped bottle. A subtle, not overly sweet, black tea note lingers under the citrus. The palate is clean and crisp with an easily discernible sweet tea note and only a touch of the lemon from the nose. The finish lingers with a refreshing sweetness that doesn’t come across in any way artificial. Sweet tea good enough for slightly-boozy porch sittin’. A-
Crook & Marker Spiked Peach Tea – The nose on this one screams peaches. Like the lemon in the sweet tea, it’s a bit inauthentic, but anyone who loves Haribo peach candies will gravitate to this one. No sign of any tea aroma. The palate has a well-balanced sweetness, but the alcohol is a little more aggressive here. The peach notes are clean, but they turn a bit sour into the finish. B
Crook & Marker Spiked Lemon Tea – I’m confused. I swear there’s lemon in the sweet tea, so what is this? It’s definitely more lemon-forward on the nose, that same bottled lemon, which adds plenty of brightness. There’s just a minimal trace of tea underneath, so I guess that’s the distinction. The palate offers a quick burst of lemon squeeze, juicy with the same balanced sweetness. It’s pleasant and clean. My only real complaint is that the lemon favor fades rather abruptly on the finish. B+
Crook & Marker Spiked Raspberry Tea – The nose on this one may be the best balanced of them all, with tea and red raspberry clearly detectable. The raspberry note skews a little tart though, almost cran-raspberry. On the palate, that cran-raspberry is consistent, more sour than sweet until the finish, when the Stevia turns things a touch too saccharine. B