Fun frozen assets: Easy-to-find cocktails in a pouch make a party
September 23, 2012|By Margaret Sheridan, Special to Tribune Newspapers
No bartender required: You don't need a gaggle of friends for an instant party. Just reach in the freezer, snip off an end of the foil-lined pouch and pour. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
Cocktails in a pouch have bagged a thirsty audience. These single-serving pouches offer choices from margaritas and pina coladas to fruit-flavored daiquiris and sangria. Fuss-free, they're easy to find and affordable. The suggested retail price at supermarkets and convenience stores is $1.99.
You don't need a gaggle of friends for an instant party. Just reach in the freezer, snip off an end of the foil-lined pouch and pour. No blender, ice or inventory of bartender ingredients is required. No hassle in finding them, either.
They're marketed on shelves and racks in supermarkets and drugstores near the beer displays. An unopened 10-ounce pouch has a shelf life of one year. Consumer demand for these products defies the seasonal calendar.
Daily's Cocktails, a brand by American Beverage Corp., introduced a pouch line (now with seven flavors) in 2005. This month the company added two new autumn flavors, said Lisa Coker, chief marketing officer. Hard cider and spiced sangria can be enjoyed frozen, chilled or warm.
Seagram's introduced four flavors in its Escapes line this year. Two more flavors will be added in 2013, said Jennifer McCauley, brand manager.
What drives their popularity? Price, convenience and America's penchant for sweet drinks, said Dale DeGroff, a New York-based author and authority on cocktail beverages. "We grew up on soda pop. Sweet drinks. These products are a short hop away from a Slurpee. But they're not authentic cocktails. They don't contain any spirits."
Information on the labels supports this. Tequila and rum are not used, respectively, in the margaritas, pina coladas and daiquiris. The products are identified as flavored wine products or flavored malt beverages. The first three ingredients, for example, in Daily's margarita are water, high fructose corn syrup and wine.
All brands contain a mere 5 percent alcohol by volume. Because they lack spirits and contain low alcohol per volume, they can be sold in most places where beer and wine are sold.
Just for fun, seven cocktail-loving tasters volunteered to taste margaritas, pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris by Daily's, Parrot Bay and Seagram's. Their favorites? Thumbs-up to Daily's margarita (for color and balanced citrus taste); Parrot Bay's pina colada (for creamy mouthfeel and subtle coconut flavor) and Seagram's strawberry daiquiri (for its fruit flavor).
Convenience and fun sell, but there's a trade-off in taste, said Victor Baheza. "Who can afford to make an authentic margarita with quality tequila, triple sec and fresh lime juice for $1.99? You get what you pay for," said the manager and beverage director for Zocalo, a Mexican restaurant in Chicago.