We try it: Cutwater’s Frozen Cocktail Spirit Pops
Spring has come and gone, and summer is now here — but it looks a little different this year. How do we celebrate the city’s best season while stuck in quarantine?
Hello, Cutwater’s Frozen Cocktail Spirit Pops. The San Diego-based brand Cutwater Spirits recently introduced its latest, trendy product: alcohol-infused popsicles. These pops come in four flavors: Gin Melon, Lime Margarita, Rum & Cola, and Vodka Mule. Each 100 ml tube is 80 calories and has 7% ABV.
So are the cocktail pops a good fit for a social distancing summer? PACIFIC decided to find out. We tried all four flavors, and here’s what we thought.
Cutwater’s Frozen Cocktail Spirit Pops are available to purchase at the Cutwater Tasting Room, located at 9750 Distribution Ave. For a list of additional stores currently carrying the pops, email your zip code to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sara Butler, Staff Writer
Though I usually stay away from hard liquor — my go-to drink these days is hard kombucha — I was excited to be tasked with trying Cutwater’s Frozen Cocktail Spirit Pops.
As soon as I heard about the product, a distant memory washed over me: standing with friends on the hot asphalt of the elementary school playground, holding a brightly colored Otter Pop in my small hands. The childhood memory of Otter Pops feels so sweet as an adult, especially during the heavy days of a pandemic.
And now Cutwater Spirits is adding alcohol into the mix? Sold.
On a Sunday evening, I picked up the pops and stuck them in the freezer to enjoy later. But after a few hours … they were still not frozen. Huh? Soon I realized my blunder; I forgot that unlike Otter Pops, these alcohol versions would need time to prep since liquor doesn’t freeze fast. Whoops.
So I stuck the pops back in the freezer to enjoy the following night. When the time came, muscle memory kicked in as I enthusiastically ripped open the plastic top. Or at least, I tried to. My hands couldn’t get the packaging open. I finally tracked down a pair of scissors to help.
By then, my tired hands were also frozen. I determined that this retro tube — basically a long, skinny ice pack — would be perfect on a hot day outside in a backyard, pool or alcohol-friendly beach. Inside my drafty apartment at 8 p.m. during quarantine was less ideal. I thought about grabbing some gloves, but decided I’d rather brace the cold than risk getting the fabric sticky from the pop’s syrup (another distant Otter Pop memory).
Once I got past the packaging and wrapped myself in a blanket, it was time for the taste test.
The winner: Lime Margarita. While I approached the other three pops deliberately, as if I were at a wine tasting, I gulped this baby down. It tastes like — you guessed it — a lime margarita. Its flavor and consistency made me feel like I was dining in at my favorite Mexican restaurant instead of social distancing on my couch. This is the adult Otter Pop for quarantine me.
The runner-up: Gin Melon. Out of all four offerings, this one tastes closest to an Otter Pop. (At least, from what I remember.) Sure, it isn’t a bright color, but it has a fruity and sugary flavor that brought me back to my memories on the playground. While you can definitely taste the alcohol, the gin is surprisingly suited for frozen format.
Honorable mention: Rum & Cola. The first taste was a little overpowering, but after a few more, it reminded me of a Coke-flavored Slurpee from 7-Eleven. Personally, my younger self preferred Cherry over Coke Slurpees, but for coca-cola (and rum) lovers, this is the pop for you.
Not for me: Vodka Mule. Admittedly, I’m very picky about Moscow mules. This one is very spirit-forward and felt more like a frozen vodka shot than a refreshing summer treat. If I were to try it again, I would probably let the cocktail melt, pour it into a copper mug and add a slice of lime … which kind of defeats the purpose of the pop.
If you’re planning on embarking on your own cocktail pop tasting, here are a few tips.
- Make sure to buy the pops the day before you want to drink them.
- Have scissors handy. Or really long nails.
- If you have a yard or balcony during quarantine, these beverages are best served outside on a warm day. Bonus points if you have a lawn chair or blow-up pool.
- The pops may freeze slow, but they melt fast. If you’re planning on having more than one, leave the others in the freezer.
- Unlike a can of beer or cocktail in a glass, it’s hard to set these pops down in between sips/bites. Plan on engaging an activity that doesn’t involve both hands. I suggest watching TV or having a Zoom happy hour.
- If you choose the Zoom party option, encourage the other participants to buy and drink the frozen cocktails too. It’s a little awkward if you are the only one with a pop in your mouth. (Trust me.)
Jennifer Ianni, Managing Editor
I love a good cocktail, especially on a hot summer day. And I love a good easy cocktail, one that doesn’t require mixing or shaking, and is easily portable. Basically, give me all the canned cocktails. So I was excited to try out these frozen spirit pops because they’re all the fun of a cocktail without any of the work.
My memories of Otter Pops are probably similar to yours: The childhood staple was something I ate as a kid, a cold, sweet treat that, if you didn’t eat it fast enough, would result in sticky fingers (and hands and arms). As a kid, my favorite part of Otter Pops was after they melted and you could drink the liquid straight from the tube. Is there anything better?
Turns out, there is. These are Otter Pops on blast, with the addition of booze that reminds you that these are certainly not for kids. These are adult treats that remind you of being a kid again, hopefully without the sticky fingers.
First off, remember how you used to open Otter Pops? You need a pair of scissors to cleanly slice the top off. I love the feel of the scissors cutting through the slush (I’m weird). Then the first chunk of frozen slush can easily be slurped. I found these melted pretty quickly (maybe it’s my lack of air conditioning), which meant I could sip them straight from the tube without a problem. My favorite. Who needs a glass?
Actually, at times, I wished I had a glass. These suckers are cold and it hurts your hands to hold them for long. I ended up trying to prop them up a few times, just to give my hands a break. It can get a little messy.
All in all, I think these would be popular at a (virtual) summer BBQ or party for the novelty of drinking them out of a tube. Plus, they taste pretty damn good and at 7% ABV, they give you the buzz you’re looking for.
Let’s get to the flavors:
The winner: Rum & Cola. I liked most of these flavors, so picking a winner was tough. In the end, the Rum & Cola rose above the rest. I’m a fan of regular rum and cokes, so I took to this flavor quickly. Like Sara, I was reminded of the Coke Slurpees from 7-Eleven, which I loved as a kid. And as an adult with a little rum? I’m still a fan.
The runner-up: Gin Melon. I was skeptical about this one, because I’m normally not a gin person, particularly during the day, which is when I feel these would most likely be consumed. But the melon won me over. It’s sweet, but not overpowering. It’s also fruity, which makes it feel like a summer staple. I honestly didn’t even taste the gin, so that was a win-win for me.
Honorable mention: Vodka Mule. Again, I’m a fan of regular vodka mules, so I enjoyed the flavor of this one. However, isn’t most of the fun of a mule the fancy copper mug they’re typically served in? That’s the only downside to the pop version. That frosty copper mug is missed, but if you’re okay with that and enjoy mules, you’ll think this one is dandy.
Not for me: Lime Margarita. I have to confess, I’m not a big margarita person and I don’t love lime, except when it’s garnishing a drink. This one was too sour and tart for me. But if you like those flavors, you’ll probably love the Lime Margarita! Don’t let my anti-sour stance stop you. I’ll be cheers’ing you with a Rum & Cola (although we’ll have to figure out another way to ‘cheers’ with these).
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