Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails

For this special Spirits Edition of Tasting Notes, we comfortably ease into the second half of the workweek with the help of a few cans of Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails (Los Angeles, California).

Founded by Matthew Kaplan and Ethan Lazar – lifelong friends and LA natives – and inspired by their time studying abroad in Spain, Costa Brava Cocktails is a new lineup of craft cocktails packaged in “vibrant 12 fluid ounce [cans] that [capture] the spirit of Los Angeles’s sun, surf and sand lifestyle.” Crafted to be “a unique twist on a classic cocktail,” Lemon Drop is a delightful mix of premium vodka and “a light lemon kick” that comes in at just “6.7% ABV, [contains] only 130 calories, and [is] gluten-free, without sacrificing the great taste.”

Costa Brava Cocktails is currently self-distributing Lemon Drop in Los Angeles, California. You can expect to find this new offering available in 4-packs of 12 oz. cans at “select West Los Angeles liquor stores and on-premise locations.” Costa Brava Cocktails are also available for direct purchase (in states where legal) from the company’s online store.

Alright . . . now that we are all a little more familiar with the background info on Costa Brava Cocktails and Lemon Drop, let’s pop the top on a can and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails

Appearance: A gentle pour from a slim 12 oz. can into a tall highball glass produces a pristine, colorless Lemon Drop that is completely devoid of any foam or froth on top. When held to direct light, nothing changes in the color department and the presentation remains the same. The liquid is perfectly clear and filled with large, fast-moving carbonation bubbles. If we had to sum up the look in a few words, it basically looks like a super clean sparkling water.

Aroma: The aromatics are a muted, but a note of fresh lemon and a bit of lemon-lime soda fill the nose with each inhale. A slight amount of vodka booziness settles into the background, but it is very reserved. All of the expected notes are accounted for.

Taste: The first thing to hit the palate is a gentle pop of high-quality vodka. Seriously, it is like straight-up, real deal vodka. This is mellowed out quickly as bright lemon notes bloom alongside a touch of sweetness to create an incredibly satisfying lemon soda-like quality. The experience closes with a refreshing wash of sparkling mineral water.

Mouthfeel: Extremely light in body with a wonderfully bright carbonation presence, this cocktail is exceedingly refreshing and easy-drinking. Crisp and clean, there is nothing aggressive, overwhelming or overly sweet about this offering. The 6.7% ABV is expertly tucked away and provides zero warmth or indication that this is an alcoholic beverage (well, other than the vodka presence in the flavor). Aftertaste is just a bit of lemon soda.

Final Thoughts: The most striking thing about Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails is the very real presence of vodka in both aroma and flavor. All too often when it comes to canned cocktails, they tend to taste like watered down offerings with no real hint of the advertised booze contained within. That is not at all the case here. Premium vodka is quick to make itself known in each sip and that really drives home an actual cocktail experience.

Combine that with Lemon Drop’s ridiculously refreshing citrus notes and high level of drinkability, and you have the perfect canned cocktail option for drinking around the pool, at the beach, on the back porch during a barbecue or gathering, or just when you want a quick cocktail without the hassle of having to mix something up on the fly. If you have been on the hunt for something different to add to the fridge or cooler, Lemon Drop and Costa Brava Cocktails really need to be on your radar. Prost!

Ghost Train Brewing Co. Releases OhEmGee Portable Craft Cocktail

Ghost Train Brewing Company (Birmingham, Alabama) has officially announced that it will release OhEmGee, Alabama’s first and only portable craft cocktail, in late July 2020.

Not to be mistaken for a hard seltzer, OhEmGee is a legit craft cocktail that combines Ghost Train’s award-winning Proven Spirits Vodka with an infusion of lemon and lime. Coming in at just 7% ABV, 90 calories and 2 grams of carbs, OhEmGee is a “bubbly beauty . . . rocking the crisp, light mouthfeel you would expect from a vodka & soda, with a hint of fresh lemon and lime to keep things interesting.”

OhEmGee officially debuted in the Tasting Room at Ghost Train Brewing Company on Monday, July 20 with availability in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans. OhEmGee is currently only available at the brewery and there is no word at this time as to when or if it will hit distribution. Prost!

Vital Information for OhEmGee from Ghost Train Brewing Company

Release – Launching July 20, 2020
Style – Canned Craft Cocktail
Featured Spirit – Proven Spirits Vodka
ABV – 7%
Calories – 90
Carbs – 2 grams
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. cans
Distribution – None. Brewery only for now

Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Tea Arrives Just in Time for Summer

Pabst Brewing Company/Pabst Blue Ribbon (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) has officially announced that it will introduce Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Tea in early July 2020.

The latest representation of Pabst Blue Ribbon’s “ongoing commitment to creative experimentation,” Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Tea is “deliciously effervescent with a natural peach flavor, it’s a uniquely Pabstidian evolution of the seltzer market, and a perfect alternative to artificial and over-sweetened products.” Weighing in at a low 4% ABV, 100 calories and 3 grams of carbohydrates, Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Tea is “a new take on traditional summer libations . . . [that] delivers the simple pleasure of sipping a refreshing iced tea with a twist.”

Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Tea is rolling out now with availability in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans. You can expect to find this new offering at select retailers located in the following 26 states: Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Prost!

Vital Information for Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Tea from Pabst Brewing Company

Release – Not Beer Series; launching early July 2020
Style – Hard Tea
ABV – 4%
Calories – 100
Carbs – 3 grams
Added Ingredients – Natural peach flavor
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. cans
Distribution – Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin & Wyoming

Costa Brava Cocktails Launches with Two Zero Sugar, Zero Carb Offerings

Costa Brava Cocktails (Los Angeles, California), a new line of sugar-free, zero carb premium vodka canned cocktails from LazKap Beverages Inc., has officially launched in Southern California with the release of two flavors: Lemon Drop and Vodka Cranberry.

Founded by Matthew Kaplan and Ethan Lazar – lifelong friends and LA natives – and inspired by their time studying abroad in Spain, Costa Brava Cocktails is a new lineup of craft cocktails packaged in “vibrant 12 fluid ounce [cans] that [capture] the spirit of Los Angeles’s sun, surf and sand lifestyle.” Lemon Drop and Vodka Cranberry, the brands’s first two releases, both come in at just “6.7% ABV, contain only 130 calories, and are gluten-free, without sacrificing the great taste.”

“We have been best friends since we were 9 years old. Our junior year of college, we were lucky enough to spend a semester studying abroad in Barcelona. One of the last days of our trip was spent at a beach in the Costa Brava of Spain. Embarrassingly, we had put on so much weight abroad that neither of us wanted to go shirtless. When we returned home to Los Angeles for the summer before our senior year at UMASS Amherst, we knew we had to make a change. Even though we cut sugar and carbs from our diets and began working out every day, one thing held us back: we enjoy socializing, which sometimes includes having a few drinks with friends. We soon realized that there were no SUGAR FREE AND CARB FREE alcoholic beverages on the market that lived up to our standards of quality and taste. There was a gaping opportunity in the alcohol market, so we got straight to work. Through a tremendous amount of trial and error, we developed Costa Brava Cocktails, a great tasting line of premium canned cocktails that contain ZERO SUGAR and ZERO CARBS.”

Matthew Kaplan, Co-founder of Costa Brava Cocktails

Costa Brava Cocktails is currently self-distributing Lemon Drop and Vodka Cranberry in Los Angeles, California. You can expect to find both of these new offerings available in 4-packs of 12 oz. cans at “select West Los Angeles liquor stores and on-premise locations.” LazKap Beverages Inc. plans to expand its the distribution footprint for Costa Brava Cocktails in the coming months with a “full Southern California rollout, which will be a runway for national expansion.” Prost!

21st Amendment Brewery Launches SOMA Hard Seltzer Brand

21st Amendment Brewery (San Francisco, California) has officially announced that it will introduce its SOMA Hard Seltzer brand with the release of four flavors in June 2020.

Meticulously crafted with “the same level of innovation as [21st Amendment’s] acclaimed beer portfolio,” SOMA Hard Seltzers – named after the brewery’s home in the South of Market (SoMA) neighborhood – are “clean, crisp, all-natural” seltzers that are “brewed using a natural fermentation process and unfiltered.” With launch flavors such as Watermelon, Guava & Passion Fruit, Mango and Black Cherry, this new line carries on the brewery’s long-standing infatuation with thirst-quenching fruits. All flavors of SOMA Hard Seltzer come in at just 4.6% ABV, 100 calories, 2 grams of carbs and 0 grams of sugar.

“SOMA Hard Seltzer is brewed with our craft roots in mind. We spent six months working to get the flavors and taste just right. Unlike other hard seltzers, 21st Amendment’s is made using a natural fermentation process giving it a cleaner flavor. SOMA Hard Seltzer is NOT made with grain neutral spirits, and then diluted with water. Many hard seltzers made that way have a metallic and artificial taste. SOMA Hard Seltzer is brewed with Virginia Dare natural flavors, a 90-year-old New York company making wonderful products for the beverage industry,” says Shaun O’Sullivan, Co-Founder and Brewmaster.

Nico Freccia (Co-Founder/CEO, 21st Amendment Brewery) adds, “SOMA Hard Seltzer is wonderful for the active on-the-go individual who is looking for a craft ‘better-for-you’ beverage. It does not fill you up with its 100 calories and 2 grams of carbs with zero sugar.”

All four launch flavors of SOMA Hard Seltzer are rolling out now and will be available Year-Round. You can expect to find these new offerings available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans at craft-friendly establishments located in Florida, California and throughout the rest of 21st Amendment’s 30-state distribution area.  Prost!

Taffer’s Mixologist Brand Adds Line of Elevated Hard Seltzers

Exclusive Mockups for Branding and Packaging DesignTaffer’s Mixologist (Los Angeles, California), a new brand from renowned hospitality, nightclub and bar expert Jon Taffer, has officially announced that it will launch a new line of hard seltzers called Taffer’s Mixologist Sparkling Craft Cocktails in September 2019.

Created in response to the “193% spike in sales year-over-year for hard seltzers” (according to this 2019 Nielsen survey), Taffer’s Mixologist Sparkling Craft Cocktails is a new series of low-calorie, low-carb hard seltzers developed by Jon Taffer and Taffer’s Mixologist co-founders, Sean Kane(co-CEO), Jay McGraw (co-CEO) and Jennifer Pullen(CFO & COO) of Launched.LA.  Meant to be a high quality sparkling craft cocktail experience, each offering from the Taffer’s Mixologist Sparking Craft Cocktails line is made with only the finest quality ingredients (“All sparkling craft cocktails include these ingredients: carbonated water, OTS orange wine, erythritol, natural flavor, citric acid, stevia.”)

This new line of hard seltzers will launch with the following seven elevated flavor profiles:

The following flavors are available in September:

  • Cucumber Jalapeño: Cool with a kick, spicy yet refreshing – it’s the perfect mix of fresh and fun.
  • Pineapple Coconut: Best sipped while closing your eyes and dreaming of a tropical beach vacation.
  • Strawberry Basil: A dangerously delicious seltzer that perfectly balances berry, basil and bubbles!

The following flavors will be available later this year:

  • Cherry Lime: Sweet and a hint of sour – a nostalgic flavor combination that’ll keep you forever young. 
  • California Lime: The original crowd-pleaser. Your taste buds will thank you.
  • Grapefruit Moon: Sweet, tart, and super refreshing – it’s a citrus sensation!
  • Taffer’s Original (Elderflower): Floral, meet fizzy: it’s a match made in heaven.

Each flavor of Taffer’s Mixologist Sparkling Craft Cocktails has only 100 calories per 12 oz. can, zero grams of added sugar, 3 grams of carbs, and 5% ABV.

Cucumber Jalapeño, Pineapple Coconut and Strawberry Basil will all launch in September and the other four flavors are expected to be introduced later in 2019.  You can expect to find Taffer’s Mixologist Sparkling Craft Cocktails available in 4-packs of 12 oz. cans (suggested retail price of $7.00 per single flavor 4-pack) at retail stores located in Florida, California, Nevada and Texas.  Prost!

TaffersMix-logo-black

Tasting Notes – CBD Beverage Edition: VYBES | Blueberry Mint

VYBESPourFor this special edition of Tasting Notes, we round the edges off a rough week by winding down with a CBD beverage from VYBES (Los Angeles, California).

Newly available in the Central Florida area thanks to Sunshine State DistributingVYBES is an organic beverage made with CBD sourced from the hemp plant.  Since hemp-based CBD does not contain THC (the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana), VYBES products are completely legal in Florida.

VYBES beverages come in five flavors: Honey Crisp Apple BasilBurning MandarinStrawberry LavenderPeach Ginger and Blueberry Mint.  Each VYBES offering contains 25mg of organic Hemp CBD and “touts the ability to help consumers’ bodies naturally achieve homeostasis by regulating anxiety, stress and sleep.”

VYBES beverages started rolling out in Central Florida – Orange, Osceola, Polk, Brevard, Lake, Seminole, Volusia and Flagler counties – in late July.  You can expect to find these CBD beverages available in 14 oz. bottles at high-end retail stores and restaurants located in Central Florida, California and throughout the rest of VYBES’ distribution footprint.

Alright . . . now that we are all a little more familiar with VYBES and CBD, let’s go ahead and crack open a bottle of Blueberry Mint and get into these Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Blueberry Mint from VYBES

Appearance: Blueberry Mint VYBES pours a red tinged, pale purple in color.  When held to direct light, the majority of the liquid softens to a peach-colored tone that surrounds a pale purple core.  It does have a bit of cloudiness to it, but it remains clear enough for you to take notice of what appears to be floaties/slight separation provided by the fresh fruit (this is an organic beverage after all).  Since this is a still beverage, the only bubbles to report are the ones that appear after the initial shake of the bottle.

Aroma:  The aromatics kick off with an earthy/herbal quality that is reminiscent of honey-laced green tea.  This is quickly overtaken by fruity notes of fresh blueberries, lemon and lime.  The profile closes with a soft breeze of sweet, cool mint.

Taste: Delicately tart blueberry notes greet the taste buds and are accompanied by a touch of grape and sweet citrus. These fruity tones are balanced perfectly by an earthy note of slightly sweet iced green tea. The mint presence is complementary, and is able to gently settle into the experience without overpowering any of the flavors that precede it.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body and still, this super easy drinking beverage has a weight that is lighter than a juice but slightly heavier than an iced tea.  Thanks to a wonderful mix of sweet, tart and earthy/herbal notes, it has a nice overall balance and finishes incredibly clean. The aftertaste is all blueberry.

Final Thoughts: I actually had my bottle of Blueberry Mint VYBES after a hellacious week and a pretty rigorous workout. Not only did I find this beverage to be incredibly tasty and refreshing, but I also finally found myself experiencing a bit of solace and peace shortly after finishing the bottle.  I was able to untie the knotted thoughts that had been lingering in my mind all day, and my joints actually felt better than they had after a workout in a long time. These effects were casual and not at all overwhelming. I just felt calm, relaxed and good, and that seems to fall in line with how many folks describe their experiences with CBD.

Beyond the pleasant effects of the CBD, the drink is just delicious.  Thanks to its beautiful mix of sweet, tart and herbal flavors and aromas, it is wonderfully balanced and easy drinking.  There are no aggressive or medicinal notes at all. It simply comes across as a fruited tea that you could easily enjoy at breakfast, lunch, dinner or anytime you find yourself in need of a refreshing beverage. So, if you have been thinking about introducing CBD into your daily routine, you seriously might want to consider VYBES as a delightfully easy option to do so.  Prost!

 

Sunshine State Distributing Brings VYBES CBD Beverages to Central Florida

Burning Mandarin VYBESVYBES (Los Angeles, California) has officially announced that it has partnered with Sunshine State Distributing to launch its line of CBD-based beverages in Central Florida.

Entering the market “just days after Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation to legalize hemp farming and sales from licensed individuals in Florida”, VYBES is an organic beverage made with CBD sourced from the hemp plant.  Since hemp-based CBD does not contain THC (the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana), VYBES products are completely legal in Florida.

VYBES beverages come in five flavors: Honey Crisp Apple Basil, Burning Mandarin, Strawberry Lavender, Peach Ginger and Blueberry Mint.  Each VYBES offering contains 25mg of organic Hemp CBD and “touts the ability to help consumers’ bodies naturally achieve homeostasis by regulating anxiety, stress and sleep.”

“The legalization of hemp products in Florida allows us to give consumers what they’ve been asking for—a beverage made with CBD,” said Chris Larue, president and founder of Sunshine State Distributing. “We are excited to introduce VYBES in Central Florida. If you’re unsure of beverages made with CBD, this product will change your mind.”

With the help of Sunshine State Distributing, VYBES products are rolling out now in Central Florida.  You can expect to find these CBD-based beverages at high-end retail stores and restaurants located in Orange, Osceola, Polk, Brevard, Lake, Seminole, Volusia and Flagler counties (a list of locations currently carrying VYBES is available below). Prost!

Locations Currently Carrying VYBES 

Heavy Seas Beer Introduces E.Krispers Cider

EKrispersCanFinalHeavy Seas Beer (Baltimore, Maryland) – an extension of Clipper City Imports, a division of Clipper City Brewing LP – has officially announced the launch of E.Krispers Cider in the United States.

Developed with the use of “100% Cider Apples”, E.Krispers Cider is a traditional English-style Cider made with “thirty four different varieties of apples [that come] together to give this cider it’s refreshing taste.”  Cider fans can expect E.Krispers (5% ABV) to offer “a unique bittersweet flavor that’s fruit-focused, crisp, and balanced with a classic finish.”

To ensure that they are crafting the best cider possible, Heavy Seas Beer went “directly to the source where traditional cider apples are readily available . . . to produce E.Krispers in Devon, England under the supervision of Cider Maker Barny Butterfield, (Owner and Cider Maker of Sandford Orchards).”  This decision has made it so Heavy Seas can have consistent “access to these traditional cider apple varietals that are not readily available in the US.”

“To grow the cider market in the US, we saw the need for a brand that will have the quality of a cider made from 100% cider apples. Cider apples have the attributes of sweetness, acidity and tannin needed to produce great, nuanced cider. E.Krispers is made from those apples,” said Barny Butterfield, Owner and Cider Maker of Sandford Orchards.

 

“It is exciting to see how much progress has been made to grow demand for cider in America,” said Dan Kopman, CEO at Heavy Seas Beer. “To add fuel to the fire, we need to establish a new price point that reflects both the quality and approachability of cider as an alternative to other alcoholic beverages. We are targeting price points at $8.99 per six pack,” said Kopman. “This will attract new cider drinkers, critical to category growth.”

E.Krispers Cider is actively launching in the U.S. now and will have Year-Round availability in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans.  You can expect to find this new offering at cider-friendly establishments located throughout the Heavy Seas Beer distribution footprint.  Prost!

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Tasting Notes – Kombucha Edition: Ginger & Oak from Flying Embers

FlyingEmbersGOpourX600For this installment of Tasting Notes, we jump-start our workweek with a probiotic boost thanks to a few pours of Ginger & Oak Organic Hard Kombucha from Flying Embers (Ojai, California).

One of three Core offerings from Flying Embers, Ginger & Oak is an Organic Hard Kombucha fermented with “black tea, . . . kombucha culture with live probiotics” and “a unique botanical adaptogenic base of roots including ginger, turmeric, ashwagandha, and astragalus.”  This refreshing brew is “USDA-certified organic, gluten-free, vegan and has zero grams of sugar at a sessionable 4.5% abv.”

Ginger & Oak is available Year-Round in 16 oz. cans and 22 oz. bottles.  You can expect to find Ginger & Oak – along with Lemon Orchard and Ancient Berry – at kombucha-friendly retailers located within Flying Embers‘ distribution footprint in Southern California, “the San Francisco Bay Area, Oregon and Washington; southwestern states Arizona and Texas; and . . . the east coast via New York, Philadelphia and [the] New England area.”

Now that we are all a bit more familiar with this offering’s background information, let’s crack open a few cans and get into our first “Kombucha Edition” of Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Ginger & Oak from Flying Embers

Appearance:  Fresh off the pour, Ginger & Oak presents itself as a hazy lemonade-like yellow in color and is capped with loose bubbles that almost instantly dissipate (similar to that of a soda).  When held to direct light, the color intensifies to become more of a sunshiny yellow.  This kombucha is quite cloudy, but a peppy carbonation presence can still be seen streaming within.

Aroma:  Quick to grab your attention, the aromatics open with a pronounced herbal tea character that offers notes of bitterness, maltiness and smoke.  Ginger swiftly rushes in to brighten things with its zesty, spicy and citrus-like qualities. The added turmeric further reinforces the ginger and its citrus notes by adding a touch of orange.  The profile is rounded off with an incredibly pleasant woody earthiness.

Taste:  That herbal tea quality immediately asserts itself here as well by opening the experience with a punchy bitter note (we assume this is the ashwagandha making itself known).  That powerful note is rapidly tempered as the black tea base imparts soothing tones of caramel, leather and honey. Smoke and earth surface just before a bright burst of ginger and citrus (lemon and orange) takes over to close things out.

Mouthfeel:  On the lighter side of medium in body with a lively carbonation, this kombucha is light and easy-drinking.  Moving easily through the tart, herbal and sweet portions of the palate, it eventually finds a nice balance and finishes dry enough to keep you craving another sip.  Coming in at a low 4.5% ABV, there is no sign of heat or booziness. The aftertaste is all ginger and lemon-laced herbal tea.

Final Thoughts: If you do not drink kombucha very often, you might be taken aback a bit by the first sip of Ginger & Oak.  By the second sip, your mind and taste buds adjust, allowing everything to come together as the herbaceous, earthy and bitter notes are balanced by the black tea base and the ginger and citrus tones take things to the next level with a zesty brightness.  This makes for an incredibly enjoyable and invigorating experience that firmly engages your senses and seemingly wakes up your brain.  It is a unique but familiar experience that just leaves you feeling good and satisfied . . . and that is a winning result if you ask us.  If you are looking to mix up your libation lineup with something new/different or are already a big fan of kombucha, be sure to check out Ginger & Oak and other offerings from Flying Embers whenever you happen upon them.  Prost!