Why canned cocktails are the perfect on-course companions
It’s the ultimate question. And it has remained unanswered for 42 years.
“How ’bout a Fresca?” Judge Elihu Smails maniacally asked Danny Noonan in Caddyshack. Before the caddie could respond, however, Smails vigorously tousled Noonan’s hair to cement their “understanding,” and the scene was over. So, I ask you now, Mr. Scholarship Winner: Do you want a Fresca?
Of course you do! And you won’t have to wait much longer to get it the way you truly want it. Constellation Brands — a beer, wine and spirits heavyweight — is partnering with Coca-Cola (owner of Fresca) to deliver a grown-up version of what Smails proffered so long ago. In the fall, canned cocktails featuring Fresca will hit the market, beginning with separate vodka and tequila versions.
“We can’t ignore the fact that we have a passionate fan base within the golf world,” says Alex Schultz, who is part of the Constellation team rolling out the Fresca canned cocktails. “It makes sense because people at golf clubs have been using Fresca as a mixer for years. Now, they’ll just be able to grab a cocktail that’s already perfectly mixed.”
It’s fair to say that pre-made cocktails with genuine spirits are tailgating on the road forged by hard seltzers, which themselves are all about a convenient, low-alcohol alternative to beer. White Claw and its ilk scratched out nearly $9 billion globally in 2021, and that growth is expected to continue.
For those who savor a well-made, full-strength cocktail, however, a golden age of grab-and-go excellence is just underway — and the people behind the drinks are very aware their approach to mixology has a natural home on the golf course.
That’s certainly the case with Jill Burns and Kelly Gasink, sisters who cofounded Austin Cocktails. When they were kids, the Dallas-born sisters spent summers at their grandparents’ farm in Minnesota. Grandpop Fred was not a country club fella, nor a stereotypical farmer. He enjoyed making divots at the local public course, where he played in shorts and Birkenstocks, grandkids in tow. At least as important to our tale, he also had a tradition on the farm. When the hard work was done, the family gathered at 1700 hours for “Cocktail Time.”
“He used ingredients from the gardens and farm in handmade cocktails,” says Jill Burns, who played on the golf team at Santa Clara University. “When we were kids, we joined in with Shirley Temples, but when we were old enough to take part in the cocktails we eventually thought, ‘We should start batching these.’ ”
Fred’s granddaughters are passionate about the taste of their drinks. Kelly is what’s known as a super taster (that’s a real thing you can test for), whereas Jill says she likes an “alcohol-forward cocktail.” Together, they opt for quality over ease. Rather than using a single supplier for the flavors in their drinks, they search yon and hither for complementary tastes. The result is legit cocktails that don’t taste like they’re poured from a can.
This summer, Austin Cocktails will debut two new tequila drinks. In the meantime, try their Fred’s Ruby Red and savor the vodka, grapefruit, mint and lime mix. And next time you swing through Austin, check to see if the tasting room at their spanking new production facility in The Yard is open.
The good news isn’t only emanating from Austin, fellow professionals. Longtime readers of Rounds know the Transfusion is a favorite, and, in Virginia, there is a new disciple of the Church of Vodka, Grape and Ginger Ale. Turner Lewis is a full-time radiologist, but during the pandemic he wasn’t going to the office, and his entrepreneurial itch got itchier. Fore Craft Cocktails “is a boot-strap effort at this point,” says Turner — but our man is making serious inroads with his Transfusion. New drinks are in the works, but as for the mother-ship Transfusion, Turner says he had an epiphany during its creation.
“I wanted real flavors,” says he. “I didn’t want a 100-calorie drink masquerading as a Transfusion. No moonshine, no malt alcohol. I wanted real vodka. I wanted it to taste like a real Transfusion.”
Can I get an Amen, brothers and sisters!
Michael Corcoran hasn’t emptied enough cans to reach the moon and back … yet. But he’s no quitter.